A Barry Special Column
ELIZABETH APPLEBAUM ASSOCIATE EDITOR
We Need Nominees!
Q: My life is so very angst-ridden.
First, my daughter had her hair cut
to look like Jennifer Aniston's —
you know, that layered style that
everyone on the face of the planet
has. Now, all I hear is the blow dry-
er running 24 hours a day (that or the
theme from "Friends"). Then my son
started meditating. He said he finds
it a soothing respite in our troubled
world. My own boy, talking like an
ad for instant gourmet coffee.
But the point is — in case you
were wondering whether there ac-
tually is one —. I told my son that
meditation has nothing to do with
Judaism. He said I'm wrong. So
what's the story, Tell Me Why?
A: It's usually associated with
We're looking for your picks of the most interesting, successful and/or
unusual businesses or businesspeople in our community, in any category.
Please send your nominations, including the phone number of the person or
business, by Jan. 15 to:
Julie Edgar, Business Editor,
The Jewish News
27676 Franklin Road,
Southfield, MI 48034.
The winners will be included in our special business edition early next year.
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those granola-eating 1960s left-
overs, (and look, pal, I don't want
to "Give Peace A Chance"), but
the truth is meditation has been
around for years, as evinced by
its frequent mention in Kabbal-
Beginning in about the mid-
17th century, the word hitbo-
nenut (Hebrew for "meditation")
began appearing in Jewish
texts. Of course, it had nothing
to do with "000hhhmmmmm"
and everything to do with con-
centrating intensely on thoughts
of God and the spiritual world.
It was a kind of deep examina-
tion, a thorough contemplation
on one subject to such a degree
that everything else is blocked
out. Jewish meditation was, in
fact, an intellectual exercise and
not, as so often appears in hip
literature, a self-involved jour-
ney of "finding oneself"
There was no easy access to
guidelines on exactly how to
meditate, though. This was part
of the secret world of the Kab-
balists, accessible to only a few.
But novices could get a taste of
this mystical meditation
through prayer. The point was
to focus wholly and deeply on the
words, not simply recite them
and wonder when you can fi-
nally get out of services. This
way, man's thoughts could be el-
evated from the everyday world
to the Divine.
There were numerous Jewish
texts published on the subject.
One was by Abraham ben
Samuel Abulafia, a 13th-centu-
You get an idea of Abulafia's
fascinating life if you take into
consideration why, at 18, he
headed off to Eretz Yisrael. He
was in search of a mythical riv-
er, Sambatyon, where the last
of the Ten Tribes of Israel were
said to be living. Later, he trav-
eled to Rome to meet with the
pope. An "inner voice" directed
him there, where he hoped to
question Pope Nicholas III about
Christian persecution of the
Abulafia's work directs read-
ers to meditate on the various
names of God. By doing so, he
said, humans could actually
have a meeting of the minds, so
to speak, with Him.
0: I can't believe that I am actu-
ally writing you. A Tell Me Why col-
umn published some time ago
caused me so much pain I had to see
a therapist. I'm speaking, of course,
about the one in which you made fun
of the greatest singer of all time,
Barry Manilow. I'm sure you re-
ceived hundreds of calls after your
stupid column appeared, all from
people just like me whose lives have
been touched deeply and perma-
nently by that giant among men. "Oh
Mandy, you came and you gave
without taking." Just thinking about
the simple, yet profound, message
that song delivers moves me to
Anyway, my question is about Mr.
Manilow's early years. Is it true he
started out in something other than
A: What a thrill! A chance to
talk about Barry Manilow yet
again! Life is good!
Imagine this, if you dare: you
might not only have heard Bar-
ry singing in small sound bites
about the wonders of State
Farm Insurance — you actual-
ly could have been reading
whole texts! ("Buy this insur-
ance, it's really good. Give us
your money like you know you
should.") Yes, Mr. Manilow
started out as an advertising
major at City College in New
York. Lucky us, though, he
transferred after one year to
New York College of Music.
That Barry is so internation-
al! Advertising student. Musi-
cal genius and, lest we forget,
philosopher, for who but a
philosopher could have written
such brilliant words as, "I write
the songs that make the world
sing...I write the songs, I write
the songs." (OK, so what exact-
ly does he do? I still don't know!)
Send questions to "Tell Me Why"
c o The Jewish News, 27676
Franklin Rd., Southfield, MI
48034 or send fax to 354-6069.