Saturday, December 31, 2011

Me? Work? But I'm a ben toirah!!

One day I was at Viznitz. I met this sefardic guy. He told me that I could get a job in the store he worked at. I thought I was dreaming. Me? get a job? How could I possibly do that? I would be admitting that, at least for now, i was not going back to learning. Somehow, I went to the interview.

(for all it's worth, I had failed my first driving test, and I had promised myself that I would never fail again. At the time of my interview, I was 21 and still didn't have a license. I drove to Clifton, NJ, when I came out of the interview at 9:00 at night, my car was gone. I was like "what the f*ck to I do now?" I had no phone. what do I tell to my potential bosses. i can't call the cops. They may ask me to show them a license. That may not be the best thing for my potential bosses to see, that I had driven without a licence. I must have made up some kind of a story, and it turns out that they lived in Monsey, so life goes on.)

As can be imagined, I was glad to get the job. At least now I had something to do. At the same time, there was no way that my mind could reconcile what it was thinking with what I was doing.In my mind, I was a respected Rosh Yeshiva, long frock, sitting on the mizrach. In life I was selling TV's and Cameras. It was a long shot. What the f*ck is going on here? It would take years until there was some kind of resolution to this mess.

For now, day in day out, I'd set up the camera cases, and make sure all the product was on the shelf neatly. They taught me how to sell. I knew nothing about selling. They told me to tell the customers that " This camera usually sells for $ 150.00, but it's now selling for $ 110.00 together with the warranty!!" Now I knew that it didn't usually sell for $150.00.That seemed like an outright lie to me. I knew this world wasn't for me, they are a bunch of liars!! Over the years (of my gadol addiction) I had developed a relationship (addiction to) a certain well known Rosh Yeshiva. I got on the phone with him, and asked him what to do, about the sales pitch that I was required to use. "You can tell a lie?" He asked me. I tried to throw in another "but..." "You can tell a lie?" was his same response. I must admit that even thought I was sorely hurt by my experience in the Yeshiva world, I still had a lot or respect for this mans certainty that any kind of untruth was out of the question.

I'll never forget the day that a friends father walked into the store. I was so embarrassed. His son, Chaim was now married and in Koilel in some other state, and here I was an utter failure. I hid. I was on the sales floor but I made sure that he wouldn't see me.Many years later, when I was performing for a rehabilitation center, I saw him. He had fallen down a flight of stairs. He was not an old man and I could tell he was a little bit ashamed to have found himself in a rehabilitation center (which was primarily a center for elderly care). I reflected on my shame 15 years prior and realized that we all go through tough times in life. We all have a moment of pride and a moment of shame, a moment of smoothness and a moment of awkwardness. I realized that life doesn't work out perfectly for anyone. We all have our turn to grow and learn and adapt to change.


  1. I second s(b.) - kol hakvod to you for realizing that the truth is a moral requirement for you, regardless of your beliefs (or lack thereof).
    And same to the Rosh Yeshivah for sticking to the truth.