Servant of the Secret Fire

Random thoughts on books and life in the reality-based community

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Location: New York, United States

The name I've chosen comes from "Lord of the Rings," when Gandalf faces down the Balrog in the Mines of Moria. My Hebrew name is Esther (which is related to the word for "hidden" or "secret") Serafina (which means "burning"). This seems appropriate because although I don't usually put myself forward, I do care very passionately about a lot of things. Maybe through these blogs I can share some of these passions, as well as less weighty ideas and opinions, with others.

Monday, October 09, 2006


On Rosh Hashanah the rabbi listed 13 middot, or qualities that he thought were important to cultivate. On the whole it didn’t really speak to me, so here is my list of qualities that I would like to aim for. The asterisks are for the ones that I think need particular work.

1. Chesed (kindness, compassion, also not being judgmental, snarky –  or at least so quick to be)*
2. Patience (with people, things, and circumstances)*
3. Public involvement (more than just signing Internet petitions –  I feel like I’ve been particularly bad on this over the past year or two)*
4. Use of my talents (even if all I’m going to do is keep a blog, I have to do some actual original writing, not just post excerpts from other people’s thoughts).
5. Financial responsibility*
6. Generosity (more on the selfishness front – if I am going to spend money, spend more on worthy causes, less on myself).
7. Taking care of my body, which is, after all, supposed to be a temple of God, even if it’s St. Paul who says that (getting more exercise, eating better)
8. Respect for others
9. Hope – (Over the past year I feel like I’ve fallen into the kind of “quiet desperation” that Thoreau talks about – try to think less about my own mortality, and living in the moment more)
10. Humility
11. Honesty, both with myself and with others, although always with due regard for the feelings of others.
12. Orderliness (I’ve been saying for most of my life that I need to get organized)*
13. Humor


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