Thursday, July 9, 2009

Three of These Things are Just Like the Others

On my way to the bakery today, I paid a visit to Rabbi Boruch Klar at his Lubavitch Center of Essex County in Livingston, NJ. Boruch, before he was Boruch, was Brian Klar, an activist in Ceasar Chevez's band of quasi-militant unionists. There's a photo of Klar in his office--sandwiched between a bumper sticker welcoming Moshiach and a deli menu--of a hippie Klar circa 1967 with a sign imploring one not to eat grapes.

I first encountered Klar in '82 as he did shlichus at Fairleigh Dickinson University in Madison, NJ, where I was an undergrad. Some dickhead had kicked down his sukkah and I kicked down the dickhead. So Klar and I became pals. Then, eleven years later, he stopped talking to me because I turned in one of his colleagues at the Rabbinical College of America in Morristown for abusing children (though it was Klar who first complained to me how this teacher was hurting kids; people are strange). But despite all that I like Klar. It's hard to dislike him; believe me, I tried. Sincerity, regardless of its pole, tends to tug my heart strings. If I'd known Klar in '67, I'd likely have flushed my grapes. At age six, I flushed all sorts of shit.

Klar's boss, on the other hand, is Moshe Herson. Moshe Herson is what Kurt Vonnegut described as a wrang-wrang, a person who steers people away from a line of speculation by reducing that line, with the example of the wrang-wrang's own life, to an absurdity. Observing Herson in action, it was only too easy to say good-bye to Lubavitch forever. Well done, Moshe Herson, well done.

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