Symposium Great Neck 4

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-Part 2-

-Part 3-

-Part 4-

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Interviewer: I have a different take on this whole evening and maybe you want to look at it from a different perspective; one simple and one somewhat more serious. About the year 1900 Solomon Schechter came to America from England. Solomon Schechter was the first Jew permitted any university in the world to teach anything related to Hebrew, Torah Bible or Rabbinic’s across the Christian world, taught the world that Jews misunderstand everything about Hebrew, the Bible, etc. and he was the first that had the lowest ranking, he was an instructor at that time, called the Reader Rabbinic’s at Cambridge. He came to America to reorganize assembling the Jewish Theological Seminary. When he arrived in American at the ship he was met by the press, they didn’t know who he was, why he was coming here, what he was doing. They asked him, what is your goal in coming to the United States. He had a Tanakh in his hand and he said [inaudible 0:01:05.6] and he’s talking to the New York Times as well as the Forbes’ and the Morgan Gentile [PH] and he’s talking to all the press that was there and he opened up the Tanakh and he said the Tanakh with the mission which was written in Galilee and Jerusalem, ancient Israel and he said this is the Tanakh which was written in Babylonia, today he would say Mozal which is where Natadal [PH] was and this Rashi [PH] lived in France and the Tosla’s [PH] lived in German and Alfazi [PH] lived in North Africa and this Rabbi lived in Turkey. He’s going through all the commentaries which is a map of the world and then he comes to the last page and on the last page of the Tanakh, at the very end, it’s empty and he said here’s a blank page. It’s an empty page, this is the page that America has to add to the Tanakh because every Jewish community in the world has added something to the Tanakh, otherwise it disappears. So we’re supposed to fill the blank page. What is curious to me on the light level is that if this theory holds, both David Birnbaum who is from Great Neck and Danny Falio is from Great Neck and maybe this is the Great Neck page in Jewish history, maybe this is the Great Neck page in Jewish thought. If it survives and passes the test of time, and from my perspective I was the shotgun between the Kalia and Greenburg. Now we’ll talk about something serious from my perspective. I visited a Jewish patient at St. Frances hospital, which is a cardiac hospital in Rockville and I was there one day and there was a young female patient unusual, generally you find older male patients in a cardiac hospital. There was a young female patient and she had a visitor, it was either her brother or her boyfriend or her husband, something like that. So I met with the patient and I see this young fellow who is dressed like I am, he had jeans, sneakers and a sweater and no tie, sport shirt. So far enough to say I didn’t know who he was and I say to him, what is your name. I don’t know why I said that, he said Sureyadas [PH]. I said you’re a Tibetan Llama. He said yes, how did you know that? I said I know who you are and I read what you wrote. He says what’s your name, I said Kochaier [PH], he says you were in Japan, I said how did you know that. He said I was in Kildair when you were in Kildair, we never me, but he was in his spiritual evolution which eventually brings him to the Dali Llama and he is found number one, Tibetan Buddhist in America. He’s ahead of Tibetan Buddhist in American, he’s in Boston and then he says to me, Sureyadas [PH] can you make a [inaudible 0:03:58.0] for my sister? What the hell do you want? A Tibetan Llama asking me to make a [inaudible 0:04:07.8] for his sister, so I say where are you from, he said he was Bar mitzvah in Syosset. Obviously he was Jewish, it was not his wife or girlfriend that was his sister and he is Jewish and now he is a Tibetan Llama asking me to make a [inaudible 0:04:27.1]. You would know this, he’s a Bud Jew, What’s a Bud Jew? That is a correct term, there is also a Hind Jew. I want to deal with you about that term. Rather funny, David Ben-Gurion didn’t know too much about Judaism but for whatever reason he an infatuation with Buddhism, he was standing on his head and reading a lot of Buddhist text, he caught a lot of flak from the Rabbis that he said he wasn’t becoming a Buddhist, it is intellectual study, which it probably was. Anyway, David Ben-Gurion has a close friend, I hope I’m not boring you with this, has a close friend whose or new who was the Prime Minister of Burma, the Burma United Nation, head of the United Nations, he was a close friend of David Ben-Gurion and one day Ben-Gurion is with him and says, you know I have a lot of questions about Buddhism. I have a lot of intellectual questions, I have challenges I don’t know how to deal with, what should I do with it? Maybe you can help me. He said I’m a politician. I’m raised that Burma a Buddhist country, he said but I never studied Buddhism seriously and I was seriously in the Monastery, he said just because I’m from Burma does mean I’m a maven on Buddhism. He says what, if you’re serious about Buddhism, if you’re serious about Buddhism, very serious, a good intellectual question, the world’s greatest Buddhist is nearby in Sri Lanka, Sri Lan at that time, why don’t you go talk to him? He said why I should [inaudible 0:05:46.1] He schlep to Sri Lan, you know to meet a Buddhist intellectual, he says I didn’t know where Sri Lan is on the map, he says what language am I going to talk to him? Uder [PH] says, talk to him in Yiddish. Just talk to him in Yiddish. The fellow’s name is Feticher [PH], he’s from Germany-Austria. He goes to an issue with the Holocaust, turns his back on Judaism, on Christianity, on Islam, someone tells him to go to Sri Lan and there he, as a matter of fact he goes there, there is Feticher, also has a Buddhist name, and he becomes number one Buddhist intellectual in the world, not the Jewish intellectual, he becomes a Buddhist intellectual. There’s a woman who is from Germany, refugee in the Nazi times and goes with her family and survives in Chang Hi. They go to Chang Hi and she’s interested, she’s interested in mysticism and Challah [PH]. Interested in business, okay. She writes a letter, correctly so, to Professor Yirsham Shalom who is the big guru in the academic study of Jewishness and is so harshly eccentric, he really was the giant who made mysticism, Jewish mysticism an academic study. So a woman from China, a young lady from Chang Hi writes the Gar shalom of her interest in Buddhism, what should she do, how should she study it. Gar shalom writes, what’s the matter with you? Get married, have a family, make good Gvelta Fish, make good chicken soup, this is not anything for a woman to, mysticism is not for you, it’s not for woman, he says stay away from it, you have to study the Tanakh first, blah, blah, blah, throws her out. Gar shalom may be made a mistake. So what does she do, she turns to Buddhism and you can read her book. She writes in English and she is a giant.

Audience Member: So what’s the punch line?

Speaker: The punch line is, the punch line is that i.e. all the gurus when I lived overseas and the gurus tell me that you come from such a spiritual people, such a wonderful people, why all of our best followers are Jews. Now they said it to me as a compliment, but I met these young boys and girls and I saw that they were not angry, they were not bitter, but I had no message for them and our synagogue had no message for them, whether we were bagels and lox and UJA, etc., etc., etc. The message I want to say is that had it Sureyadas read these volumes 1 and 2, had Feticher read volumes 1 and 2, they probably would remain within the Jewish fault, because they could see that the Jewish way of life and whether it’s putting on [inaudible 0:8:47.0] or keeping Kosher or whatever we do, is the road to fulfill your potential, that’s your divine potential and that’s actually what we are doing and that’s actually what they are searching for within our tradition and did not find it. I would suggest that you read the books and read it seriously. You’ll learn a great deal.

For David Birnbaum philosophy, metaphysics, see also Infinity 3