One of the things we talked about in the Devar Torah Workshop is that no matter how well you organize your thoughts and how well you deliver your message, there may be people who just won’t get it. They may be distracted, bored, or – let’s be diplomatic here – lacking the ability to comprehend.
Then of course there are those who fall into their own unique category. For one surreal example, this past Shabbat I delivered emergency fill-in devar torah for seudah shlishit, after which I was blamed for the Holocaust.
I suppose some background is in order. For various reasons due to Thanksgiving no one was slated to speak during seudah shelishit. At some point during shaharit I reminded myself that I spoke last year and figured out a way to tweak the old message and even have it tie in to Thanksgiving. Granted, it was not one of my best efforts, but I thought at least it was passable.1
When I went to sit down down, and older gentleman and prominent figure in the shul come over with the obligatory “yasher koach” and asked if I attended the shul’s annual Kristalnacht event. I hadn’t. The gentleman then ranted that no young people came because we have no interest and don’t care about the Holocaust, and had we cared more back then we could have prevented it.
For the moment, let us ignore the specific implication that our current apathy towards shul events precipitated the most horrific genocide in our people’s history. Rather, I simply intended to demonstrate that as admirable of a goal it is for a speaker to connect with the audience, there are times when you should just let it go.
1. Hopefully I will get a chance to write it up at some point.
Oh, I thought there was something about the content of the devar torah that provoked the outburst. From your description though, it sounds like it may have instead been a somewhat random tirade that just happened to be close in time to the “yasher koach.” Then again, I wasn’t there.
I also thought that you were going to say tat something within the content of your Dvar Torah was controversial. Often times after speaking in front of crowds (whether they be your home town or not their are detractors). It’s rough….I definitely feel you.
Daniel – It was definitely the unrelated tirade, though I’m sure given enough time and beer I could make some sort of connection.
I don’t think the devar torah was controversial itself, though I will admit that I’ve misspoken on more than one occasion resulting in unintended messages.