Thursday, May 09, 2013

Happy Anniversary, me

May is about the time of year when I started On the Main Line. I don't know the exact date, because the April before is when I started blogging someplace else. And when I switched, I moved some of the old posts, recopied them. So either May 9 or 10 is the day I started On the Main Line. A pretty long time ago in the blogging world. To see an infant with eyes fused shut, soft and pink and squishy, covered in down and adorable turn into an immature, bright 8-year old! I love it.

in which I may present my thoughts and my own particular mishuggassen
Friday, 24 May 2005

I can be found at">On the Main Line

Thanks, if anyone is reading.

I suppose I should reflect once a year. I'm not sure what to say. A lot of good things came about for me because of blogging. I got to know so many of you via email, and also in person, and made some dear friends. I have had my eyes and mind opened in so many ways. I learned a lot. Discovered some interesting research methods. You know, independently inventing the Digital Humanities. Kidding, a little. 

I want to thank everyone, the hundreds of people who read every day, on every continent (except the proverbial Antarctica, at least so far). It's especially gratifying to me when I can see a referrer and that a person was looking at one of my posts through Google Translate. I'd like to thank the people who find the blog using funny keywords, the people who ask questions with some kind of confidence that I know or could find the answer. I have learned so much from readers, anonymous commenters, emailers - some of you don't realize how intimidating your depth and breadth of knowledge is!  I'm sorry about the drowning in email problem, and my resolution for the next 8 years is to try to become better with that. In my defense, generally I want to give queries the attention it deserves and sometimes I get overwhelmed. I will try better. I also want to thank each and every one of you who came to help when I was drowning in financial woes. I am sometimes shy, but I want to tell you very clearly: you helped me and my family survive at times. Literally. And I will never, ever forget that. 

I also want to thank those of you who keep pointing out when I did a post with a Part I, and never got around to doing a Part II. The explanation is that when I post like that, I'm trying to set a goal for myself, trying to make a placeholder. Sometimes the Part II happens, sometimes not. Part IIs may always end up happening, even it takes a long time! I also want to thank readers who have never failed to inform me when I am quoted, cited or - yup, ripped off - in various periodicals or blogs, in which I may never have realized. 

I want to reflect a little on why I blog, and why I pushed myself through funks, moments completely lacking in inspiration, and times where my interests shifted from the topics I blog about. The reason is quite simple: so I could sit here today and write this! Most blogs are short-lived, even the ones that burn bright for a time. Blogging itself may be, or supposedly is, dead. And I know that I have to adapt. My vast numbers of comments dried up years ago, even as each year my daily hits increase. So look for some changes, at least aesthetic changes, to come - hopefully soon. I have plans, publications, etc. We'll see what happens. In the meantime, I am glad I persevered. To give myself a pat on the back, I learned that I have good instincts for what others' find intriguing: it's what I find intriguing! And there are all sorts of little crumbs, some just bits of gold dust, others well-known gems, and still others rare, unknown gems which are scattered all over our vast literature, the treasures of the Jewish people. So it's been very gratifying to discover some of them, and popularize them and bring them to light. 

A few things I have learned: 

- there is no end to such treasures.
- truth is as strange as fiction.
- things were on the one hand very different in the past,
- and on the other, they were and remain exactly the same

And I almost forgot! Thanks to all the libraries and companies that digitize books and journals in free and other kinds of databases. I of course especially mean Google and, but there are many, many others. Growing up, I never dreamed that I would have a library with easily tens of thousands of books and/or sforim, each one highly interesting to me. And now I do. Millions actually, only some more or less interesting.

I also want to thank two individuals who helped me gain access to - well, I don't know if I can talk about it openly - but their confidence in me enabled an endless flow for me, to be able to access resources which I need and which I was only able access before their help, in inconvenient ways. We may not have communicated about it for a long time - but thank you.

ETA: (I wish I had remembered that I planned to include this!) I have to give thanks and public recognition to three individuals. Two of them have helped me personally, and inspired me in different ways, and one died more than a century before I was born. I mean to thank (in age order) Shadal himself, a great man whose example taught me much about intellectual honesty (striving for) and most importantly, the importance of helping others' in their scholarship. Secondly, Professor Shnayer Leiman, who while he could not teach one to be a genius, taught me something about humility, something about critical thinking, and something about checking sources, always. In addition, he has personally helped me in a very significant way. Thirdly, Prof. Marc Shapiro, who in addition to helping me more than one time in a significant way, has been a very good friend.

Oh, and Google AdSense, please explain to me how exactly I violate copyright and why you don't let me place ads on the blog? Thank you. Your automated reply won't tell me a thing.

Well, keep reading. I'd like to think that as long as there is someone to read, I will keep researching and posting. Thank you, and enjoy!


  1. Mazel Tov! Many happy returns. Until 120.

  2. Para muchos anyos y buenos!
    You are really quite impressive and I hope I meet you one day.

  3. milhouse trabajo2:14 PM, May 09, 2013

    i'm very new here, but like the blog. can you explain the name?

  4. Mazel tov. בן שמונה לגמרא (I think), anyways, onwards and upwards.

  5. Congratulations! Keep it up

  6. Happy Bloggiversary, S. I learn new and amazing things every day from your site. Please keep up the good work.

  7. I enjoy your blog a lot. I would comment more, but I feel I have nothing to really add to your interesting posts.

  8. I discovered this blog only in the past year or two, but rarely comment. I enjoy your posts and thank you for contribution to my otherwise very limited body of knowledge.

  9. Yeshivish Yeshivish4:16 PM, May 09, 2013

    Wow, I think I've been reading your posts pretty much since the beginning... You must be good to capture my attention for 8 years...

  10. Mazel Tov. While I rarely comment, I always read.

  11. Mazal Tov! Keep up the awesome stuff!

  12. Mazal Tov! I just want to say something that I know holds true for at least a few people here. Many of us, when we started browsing through the complex array of scholars and scholarship, a world to which we were, eh, not exposed, stumbled around the internet not even knowing what it was that we were seeking. All of us had our "firsts"--whether it was a Wiki article, a Jewish Virtual Library piece, some random link to an article by Dr. Leiman, etc. But many of us got a whole lot of that starter information from OTML. It was our first time seeing certain names come up time and again, certain questions get asked, certain techniques emerge for dealing with both unwarranted faith and baseless skepticism. On behalf of all of us, I thank you more profoundly than a mere comment on a blog can express.

    Aleh v'hatzlach,


  13. Kol ha-kavod, and keep those crumbs and gems coming!

  14. Keep up the good work!

  15. Yamim al yimai melech. You can google a lot better than I can, but have you tried the waybackmachine to see if it might give you a clue as to when you started

  16. Oh, I have the posts themselves. The trouble is, I copied them and didn't necessarily post them on the dates themselves; you can date a post on blogger any way you want. If you look at my archives you will see a couple of posts dated 2003 and 2004; I deliberately posted those earlier so they'd be archived that way, but I posted them in 2005 or 2006. So I'm just not sure of the exact date I began, but I know it was May 2005, and I think either the 9th or 10th.

    Thanks everyone for the very kind words! My semi-secret gigantic ego enjoys all the compliments very much.

  17. Mazel Tov and many thanks S. keep up the great work



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