I hope to meet Ruchama one of these days.
It's been about nine years since I read a blog posting in Pearl Adler Saban's Pearlies of Wisdom, a great blog back then when blogs were all the rage.
I recall Pearl extolling the virtues of Ruchama King Feuerman, an established author and writing mentor who sought a small circle of students intent upon searching out and developing one's "writing voice".
Long story short. After submitting a piece to Ruchama I had written not long before, I joined the first of what became five telephone conference classes led by Ruchama in which she taught five or six other writers how to better their writing skills with an eye toward publication.
Some of the best education I've ever received.
Not so much an emphasis on content selection, you were pretty much free to write about whatever. I was working on a book at the time and shared it with the class. Technique. That was Ruchama's focus-to transform a "magnificent mess" into a book.
So it was from the "get-go" that Ruchama's use of language, "how she says it" rather than "what she has to say about it" defined what I sought from her class.
Her gifts are many. She scans the scenery of life's moments with as fine an eye for detail as an electron microscope examines the smallest interstices of G-d's microscopic handiwork.
By the end of the prologue in her newly-released novel In The Courtyard Of The Kabbalist, Ruchama captures my undivided attention. And for any writer to have that kind of effect on me is a rarity-not because my readership is of any special importance. I just happen to fall asleep a lot after around the seventeenth word.
As an illustration of my "seventeenth word reading disorder", I have another writer in mind whose first book was simply a smash! I mean this author spoke to me. I waited two years for his second book, first novel.
I did. I really did try to get beyond page 5, several times. And every time I awoke from a "that book-induced" nap, I muttered to myself, 'maybe next time, maybe next ...' "
It's been five years since last I tried, but I digress.
Ruchama wastes no time in fashioning "Rebbe Yehudah", a kabbalist with "a gift for analyzing difficulties of the soul." For me Ruchama's "Rebbe Yehudah" confirmed my long-held belief that The Master of the Universe places individuals such as Rebbe Yehudah along the way to serve as candles for the rest of us, to enlighten our way, as it were. Or if you prefer, a giver of himself, a discreet guide to those who've seemingly lost their way along the way as happened to Isaac, a young man from New York who, upon his mother's death, sells his business, packs up his stuff and makes aliyah.
Through whichever lense you view Rebbe Yehudah, you can't but love him. Beauty comes in assorted packages.
It took me by surprise. I would have never thought Rebbe Yehudah to be a tattoo-bearing Jew. Frankly, it hadn't occurred to me. A Yemenite or a tenth generation "Yerushalmi", but the scene I have in mind reminded me of one from a story by Hanoch Teller.
You know the one I'm talking about, right? With the soon to be orthodox convert at the mikveh on Erev Yom Kippur, the guy with the tattoos all over his body. He felt embarrassed when an older, sort of frail fellow approached him: "Oh, I've got one of those," he said with a faint smile. "You stay by me."
Then there's Mustafa, but don't get me started. I will tell you a secret, however, if you promise to tell everyone. I think you'll find a special place for Mustafa in your heart.
Gotta go at 6:05 a.m. Triplets "daddy duty" coming up. Oh, lest I forget, thank you Ruchama. Readers, download the Kindle version of In the Courtyard of the Kabbalist by Ruchama King Feuerman now, right now, please.