The term “memoir” used to be reserved for thick, comprehensive volumes written by noted individuals nearing the end of their lives. Personal accounts of lesser-known people, however intriguing or expansive, were labeled “narratives” (as in slave narratives); and collections of shorter entries were called “diaries” or “ruminations.” With the advent of self-publishing, blogging, email blasts and publishers eager to experiment with new formats, memoirs have come to include a range of writings by authors from all stages and walks of life. Thus, a memoir might be a lengthy autobiography of a famous personality, but might also be an assemblage of brief reflections by anyone with an interesting point of view.
It is in this latter category that we find The Elephant in the Room: Torah, Wisdom & Inspiration for Life, a compilation of breezy musings culled from “The Short Vort” emails of New York area rabbi Ron Yitzchok Eisenman. In seventy-six short essays averaging two pages apiece, Eisenman gives his idiosyncratic and proudly frum insights into the world around him. The observations are alternately sad and humorous, aggravating and uplifting, and draw out hidden yet apparent insights from everyday experiences. This is what is meant by the elephant in the book’s title—a metaphor for an obvious truth that goes overlooked or unaddressed.
In popular usage, the elephant idiom also describes Read the rest of this entry »