Running Into Rabbi Yitz Ethshalom At Ralphs

Sunday night.

I hire someone to install wordpress for me on a website I’m running that’s registered and hosted at

Five hours later, wordpress is still not installed because the server keeps cutting out.

In a rage, I switch the domains to my host namecheap.

I drive off to the Cinema City Film Festival.

Yelp. Gruff. Rrrr. I forgot about the dog in the back I’m babysitting.

It yelps all the way to Beverly Hills where I park near the luxury home I lived in the back off for 14 months (1994-95) until my roommate stopped paying the rent.

I’m late to the red carpet.

I hate being late.

On the way home with a griping dog in the back, I stop by Ralphs.

As I stand in line, I look over and there’s my former Torah teacher Rabbi Yitzhak Etshalom.

Oy ve! We’ve only spoken once in the past six years. It was unavoidable. I was coming out of shul where he’d just given a lecture. He had to shake my hand.

"How are you?" he asked.

"I’m fine, thank you," I said. I didn’t say "Baruch HaShem" because I remember him making fun of that response when you’re asked how you’re doing.

So I want to say hi but he looks like he’s got a lot on his mind. What if he doesn’t want to talk to me? What if I betrayed him? What if I look over at him and he sees me and then his features give away his true feelings?

This is the life I chose — alienation from most of those I want to be close to in exchange for near total freedom with my blogging. But when I run into my former Torah teachers, I feel terrible. I can’t look them in the face. If they catch my eye, my features start to crumble. If I over-recompense and try to be stern and still, then my face twists up in the most horrifying sneer.

There’s Levi, sneering at Torah and the sages once again!



Fricken hell!

I look away and push off.

Martin Buber and Emmanuel Levinas would not be proud of me. That face to face, heart to heart communication thing is excruciating to me.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been covered in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and on 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
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