Today was the Second Annual Ariel Avrech Memorial Lecture.
Rabbi David Fohrman used the story of Joseph and his brothers to explore the notion of forgiveness; The question he posed was whether forgiveness is possible when someone has done something absolutely horrible to you. How can you forgive an egregious injustice? He essentially proved that that by acknowledging the very imbalance in a relationship head-on, you can repair the damage but by denying the hurt you caused, or denying the pain you feel, the relationship never can recover. Rabbi Fohrman engaged the audience in a real Socratic give and take. As soon as I can I will set up a link so you can purchase this amazing talk directly from Rabbi Fohrman.
It was a bittersweet day for Karen and me. We distributed the Book of Ariel at the lecture. We met old friends, made new friends and silently celebrated our 28th anniversary.
I leave for Oakland tomorrow morning where I’ve been asked to deliver a talk about “The Hebrew Kid and the Apache Maiden” to the American Association of Jewish Librarians. When I return I will blog more about the lecture and post some pictures.
Karen adds: Ariel hand picked Rabbi Fohrman for us. He had attended his lectures and knowing our taste, passed on several of his tapes to us. He was right. I loved Rabbi Fohrman’s analysis of the Ten Commandmants and The Story of Adam and Eve.
Years passed. When the time came to choose a lecturer for this year I racked my brain to remember the name of the lecturer that Ariel told me about who also was a professor at Johns Hopkins. I went through his hundreds of tapes. This was a task I had avoided since his death. None of the tapes rang a bell. I used an old trick of going through the alphabet before I went to sleep, sort of counting sheep, hoping to toggle some circuit in the old memory bank. Nothing worked. Finally, one night I beseeched Ariel, saying, “Please, do your old mother a favor, tell me the name of the rabbi you liked so much, you know, the one with the sophisticated, but frum world view.”
Then it came to me. Coincidentally, that week, the name was confirmed. Rabbi Fohrman was writing a column in the Jewish Press, and his e-mail and all his contact information was now available to us.
Such was providence.
The lecture was a success and a wonderful tribute to Ariel. As we dropped Rabbi Fohrman off for his return flight I broke into tears thinking how much Ariel would have enjoyed getting closer to Rabbi Fohrman as we did today. Nothing makes sense in the face of Ariel’s absence.