[Introduction by Mel Scult: I think we are all surprised when great people turn out to be like the rest of us. Here is a very ordinary day in the life of Mordecai Kaplan . He was impatient with himself because of something he could not find and was also suffering from the annoyance of a bad tooth ache. What interests me is that Kaplan cannot help but think in transcendent categories. He opens this daily report by saying that even though the divine should help us endure the worst that can befall us he often doesn’t endure his trials as well as he might. Rabbi Kaplan we welcome you to the human race.]
Wed. January 25, 1950
I often speak of religion as that which enables a person to be and do his best and to bear the worst that may befall him. If trying to be and do one's best is religion, I can say I have some religion, but if bearing the worst that may befall one is religion, I have mighty little of it. It doesn't take much to upset me, although I try to control myself. I say this apropos of the way I have been behaving the last two days.
Last Monday afternoon I began having excruciating pain in my teeth which were under the dentist's care. The temporary cap & filling which had put on two of the teeth seemed to be the source of the trouble. Then when Lena came with the new broadtail coat which she had bought at bargain price, I was about to give her $200 of the $400 I had saved up for the weekly $6.00 weekly allowance I had been taking for myself. I looked for the envelope in which I kept the money and which I would always put into one of the books of the Journal which I always keep in the safe, and there was no envelope. I had never told Lena about those savings, and I wanted to surprise her.
The frustration at not finding the money, and the tendency of my thoughts to revert to the question where I might have put it kept on interfering with the lessons on Philo and on the Midrash that I was preparing for the Tuesday session at the Seminary. I went to sleep after 1.00 midnight trying to calm the inner storm of physical pain and mental distraction from the subjects I had to teach next day. During the night I was wakened a couple of times by the pain in my mouth. Fortunately I had arranged with the dentist to have him attend to me before I had to be at the Seminary. He completed the work on my teeth. That relieved me of the physical pain, and I was glad that I got back just in time for my first hour in Midrash. I noticed a few men were absent I joked about it and proceeded to teach.