On this coming Motzei Shabbat, my friend Bruce Scher, the Academic Dean of Rochelle Zell Jewish High School is receiving a well-deserved honor for his many years of work at the school. All four of my children attended and graduated from the school between 2001-2014 (which, at the time, was called Chicagoland Jewish High School) and benefitted from Bruce’s close involvement in their academic and personal growth. I’m so grateful to him for everything he did for Jessie, Matt, Rebecca and Joshua and for his friendship. We are all better people for knowing Bruce.
As anyone who knows him will tell you, Bruce is the most relentlessly positive person you’ll ever meet. Every time I see him, when I ask how he is, he replies “Fabulous!” And, irrespective of whatever he might be dealing with, professionally or personally (that might be anything but “Fabulous!”), he means it every time. He is the quintessential “glass-half-full” person and, as a “half-empty” person myself, I envy his positive outlook and uninhibited joy for life.
So, I’ve written a poem in Bruce’s honor, entitled How Fabulous, the Half-Full Glass. It’s not a parsha poem, per se, but when I think of Bruce, I’m reminded of the famous Talmudic rabbi, Nahum Ish Gamzu, whose mantra, no matter what transpired, was “Gam zu letovah!” This phrase, translated as “this too is for good!” might as well be the modern-day equivalent of “Fabulous!”
How Fabulous, the Half-Full Glass
–After Bruce Scher
To the glass-half-full person, the contents of the glass
taste better than the exact same contents taste to a
glass-half-empty person. Which is to say, the difference
between the taste of orange juice, fresh-squeezed by
someone who had an excellent night’s sleep (a young man
who, on the way to work at a diner, notices that the sunrise
is especially fabulous that day. And, who decides that this
is the day he will, finally, ask out that cute girl, the one
who comes into the diner every morning and orders nothing
more than dry toast and a cup of tea. Is she a poor student?
Is she watching her weight? That would be crazy, she is perfect.
And he has a plan: he’ll bring her a muffin, the biggest one he
can find, and a glass of fresh-squeezed orange juice. Then, he’ll say
the words he’s practiced a hundred times: On the house, enjoy.
The orange juice is fabulous. I squeezed it myself. Though, what he’ll
really be thinking is, What, my love, shall we name our children?).
Yes, the difference between how that tastes and oily, bilge-water from
a ship that makes port in a place where the rule of law is not respected.
You’d think one sip of such nasty brew would turn the glass-half-empty
person into the opposite, but the market for bilge-water is inexhaustible.
You probably want to know what happened in the diner that morning,
but that’s a private matter between husband and wife. Although, to this day,
whenever the sunrise is especially fabulous, he will bring her the biggest
muffin he can find and, to wash it down, well, you can figure out the rest.