Friday, December 31, 2010

Ponderous Parsha Point...

...okay so - when we last left our heroes The Almighty had instructed Moshe to present himself to the King of Egypt as His messenger and request a three day escape into the wilderness for Bnei Yisroel to pray/sacrifice to G-D. This week the request is denied in triplicate and all manner of makkos ensues.

The thing is...Three Days? Really? Is that what the plan was? As best I recall when the nation ends up leaving they don't plan on coming back. So what's the deal? Is there a grand lie/subterfuge going on here? And if so why? (Also, why at some point does the request change to the more common "let my people go", as in forever?)

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Talmud as Business Model?

Today's Freakonomics linked to a really interesting article in Newsweek about how Chinese discuss Jewish business acumen:
Jewish visitors to China often receive a snap greeting when they reveal their religion: “Very smart, very clever, and very good at business,” the Chinese person says. Last year’s Google Zeitgeist China rankings listed “why are Jews excellent?” in fourth place in the “why” questions category, just behind “why should I enter the party” and above “why should I get married?” (Google didn’t publish a "why" category in Mandarin this year.)
Ironically, also today, a friend told me how another friend commented to him that now four guys in the same group of friends have all worked for people who ran various (some still alleged) illegal financial schemes - also, all Jewish. Not sure if those are related, but certainly interesting, and makes you think how there are two ways to go about life.

Do yourself - and more importantly, anyone who will be impacted by you - a favor, and pick the right one.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The IFL on NYT

This is in honor of Da Kirsch, who plays for the Pioneers in the Israel Football League. My mom sent me this video from the New York Times about the league's growing popularity. Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Ponderous Parsha Point...

...וַיִּפֶן כֹּה וָכֹה, וַיַּרְא כִּי אֵין אִישׁ; וַיַּךְ, אֶת-הַמִּצְרִי, וַיִּטְמְנֵהוּ, בַּחוֹל. -- And he looked this way and that way, and when he saw that there was no man, he smote the Egyptian, and hid him in the sand

Rashi -וירא כי אין איש: עתיד לצאת ממנו שיתגייר -- In the future there would not be anybody from this person who would convert

Question - Of course when he looked into the future he didn't see any converts from this person...he was dead, how could he have produced any converts?

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Ken Robinson on Education (Again)

If you've been reading this blog for a few years, you may recall my favorite video. Here's another, slightly different approach to a related topic - kids' education.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

RIP, Rapid Robert

I think my Dad will appreciate this one. The best piece I've seen on Bob Feller is Joe Posnanski's on SI.
Bob Feller died Thursday in Cleveland of acute leukemia. He was 92 years old. He grew up on a farm in Iowa. He played catch with his Dad. He played baseball for the Cleveland Indians when he was young. And when he was no longer young, he traveled the country promoting baseball and himself and America and all the things he believed in deeply. He signed more autographs, probably, than any man in baseball history — so many that an autograph dealer once joked that a baseball without Feller’s autograph was rarer and more valuable than one with. Bob Feller leaves behind family, friends, a detailed baseball record, countless stories and little confusion about how he felt about things. And he threw a baseball harder than any man who ever lived. At least that’s what my father told me.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

In My Hat...



...Everybody's looking for G-d. Oh. Oh.
Aint that the reason you came to this KluB. Oh. Oh.
You aint gonna have a chance with Him. No. Oh.
Got a better solution for you now. Oh. Oh.

Just stay with me now. Say the word and you'll grow.
I'll be your teacher. I'll show you the ropes.
You'll see a side of life you've never known.
I can see you growin' now, growin' now.

In a hat, I see you lookin' to me.
In a hat, you fulfill my fantasy.
In a hat.
You'll be screaming no.
In a hat, you're growin' now.
In a hat, you're growin' now.
In a hat. Yeah. In a hat. Oh yeah.

Some dudes know all the right things to say.
When it comes down to it, they show the way.
Instead of talking let me demonstrate. Yeah.
Get down to business lets learn all day.

Just learn with me now. Say the word and you'll grow.
I'll be your teacher. I'll show you the ropes.
You'll see a side of life you've never known.
I can see you growin' now, growin' now.

In a hat, I see you lookin' to me.
In a hat, you fulfill my fantasy.
In a hat.
You'll be screaming no.
In a hat, you're growin' now.
In a hat, you're growin now.
In a hat.

Borsalino. Ay-oh. Come on. Ay-oh. Ay-oh.
Yeah put it on your head, on your head right now. Ay-oh. Ay-oh. Come on.
You'll be looking all right when you turn that brim down.

Just learn with me now. Say the word and you'll grow.
I'll be your teacher. I'll show you the ropes.
You'll see a side of life you've never known.
I can see you growin' now, growin' now.

In a hat, you see how you want to be.
In a hat, you fulfill your fantasy.
In a hat.
You'll be screaming more.
In a hat, you're growin' now.
In a hat, you're growin' now.

In a hat, you see how you want to be.
In a hat, you fulfill your fantasy.
In a hat.
You'll be screaming more.
In a hat, you're growin' now.
In a hat, you're growin' now.
In a hat.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Ponderous Parsha Point...

...so the Prince of Egypt tells our ten intrepid travelers that they dare not return to the land of the River g-d without their youngest brother firmly in tow. Okay, that's a problem because Father does not let said brother out of his sight. Great tension ensues.

The question is...why? Why such worry? Why all the grand statements by everyone involved? What's the big deal - simply grab some kid, throw a pair of tzitzis and a yarmulka on him and pass him off as the younger brother. How hard could it have been to pull off such a ruse? They don't know that it's Yosef back in Mitzrayim. As far as they know it's a crazy ruler who for some reason is picking on them.

So why not pass off another as Binyomin, it would seem to be a no brainer way to solve all the problems at hand.

---Yes, there is a clear answer---

Thursday, December 09, 2010

PSA: Mesila Course in Baltimore (Sunday)

I saw this post at Orthonomics; if you're near Baltimore, check this out. Mesila is a very good organization and I'm willing to wager you'll gain something tangible from going.

PSA: Seminary, The Jewish Family's Approach to Money

This is a Public Service Annoucement (that I did not put up in a timely manner). One of my readers alerted me to a course being given by a Rabbi Fishel Mael, Phd through Mesila in Baltimore. The course is advertised as "a practical course for couples under 30."

The course will be given Sunday evening, December 12, 2010 at 7:30PM. It is slated to run 2.5 hours and RSVP should be given to mesilabaltimoreoffice@gmail.com. The location of the course is at Bais Haknesses Ohr HaChaim on Clarks Lane.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

The War on Chanukah

Absolutely brilliant: The Colbert Report.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Daily/Colbert - War on Hanukkah
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorThe Daily Show on Facebook

Sportsman of the Year- Giving Publicly and Privately



I especially liked the part how he not only gave publicly with his name on stadiums and projects he helped support, but also had time to pump up a small group of middle-school kids.
Read the article here

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Solid Woot Gelt

Hat tip: Jughead

This item on Woot is okay, but the description is priceless:
We were recently reading in Alfred Kolatch’s JEWISH BOOK OF WHY about the Hanukkah custom, reportedly dating to medieval times, of playing card games late into the night. Now, we like a hand of Texas hold ‘em as much as the next person, but we’d never heard of this tradition. Obviously, we’ve been hanging at all the wrong JCCs.
Plenty of rabbis have frowned on these games, Kolatch claims, but no less a big-shot than Rabbi Levi Yitzhak the Berdichever spoke up in favor of them, arguing—get this—that marathon gambling sessions would help condition yeshiva students to stay up late, a skill they could then use during long nights studying the Torah.
OK, far be it from us to second-guess Big Berdi. But honestly, that sounds like some serious rationalization to us. Look, it’s cool with us if you want to play Canasta ‘til dawn. It’s better than cool. It’s great. Call us up, deal us in, we’ll bring the soft drinks. But don’t give us this Torah-study training cover story. Because you know what would train you even better to stay up late studying Torah? Staying up late studying Torah.
This shirt is for anyone who’s celebrating straight through the holiday like a sufganiyot-fueled party machine, and doesn’t need a pious excuse. Come on, turn up the music! Fry up the potato pancakes! Wiggle like a glow worm, dance like a spinning dreidel! Light this year’s Hanukkah candles at both ends, kids—because we’re halfway through the awesomest eight-night-all-night party ever.
Besides, there’ll be plenty of time to catch up on sleep in a few days when everything closes for Christmas.
Wear this shirt: to protect your torso from spattering latke grease.
Don’t wear this shirt: with latke-grease spatters all over it, though.
This shirt tells the world: “Salsa, swing, disco, horah, whatever, I feel like DANCING.”
We call this color: IsRoyali Blue

Believeland

A surprisingly good piece on ESPN by Wright Thompson on Cleveland (and Lebron James' impact on the city psyche). Excerpts that I really appreciated:
We've heard a lot about Cleveland's reaction to "The Decision," seen video of burning jerseys, read Dan Gilbert's nutty letter, but the reaction I heard again and again, all over Cleveland, almost without exception, white and black, rich and poor, is the reaction of the steel mill workers hanging at this bar in Garfield Heights. People were mad at the theatrics. The Decision. Toying with the emotions of a city that's known nothing in the past four decades but sporting heartbreak.
I ask a dozen or more people what they think, and all of them say: It's not that he left for greener pastures; it was how they thought he showed them up. They think he rubbed their noses in it. "I was all right with him leaving," Crowder says. "I didn't like the way he did it."
Everybody says that. I've heard it from the owner of a steakhouse, The Lancer, that's a gathering place for the African-American community. I've heard it from a homeless guy who cleans the Cavs' arena. I've heard it from a right wing radio host and hipster liberals and architects and ex-cops and a James Beard Foundation Award-winning chef. If you talk to regular people who pulled for LeBron, you'll hear a nuanced opinion that doesn't jibe with the hysteria we saw from afar. To a man, that's what these guys at the Venture Inn say.
These dudes work hard for a living and don't ever begrudge someone doing what's best for himself. Life ain't easy in the world. It's hell near the furnaces. They wear long johns in the heat -- a few minutes inside, they soak with sweat, which cools them off. At closing time, guys head to the bar for a beer. "You order two," a steelworker cracks, "and you pour the first one on your head."
They feel lucky to have work. The jobs that still exist might not for much longer.
"This town is dying," a customer says. "If I could leave, too, I think I'd be out."
"Why?" the bar owner asks.
"The future's not bright in Cleveland," he says.
That's why they understand. Many of their sons are the first generation to not find work in the mines or the mills. Their own children, when faced with LeBron's decision, made the same one. So the men at the Venture Inn aren't angry. They get it.
"I'm proud of my son," he says.
So, they don't mind the leaving. Their fathers and grandfathers moved to find the best jobs. They provide for their families despite the odds and surveys and television documentaries that tell them their way of life is dead. They are proud people, which is why they did not like being the foil in The Decision.
"The way he did it was f---ed up," says Lenny Sofranko, a steelworker for three decades.
These guys have a code.
They think LeBron broke it.
Best:
Take Eric Barr. He's a Browns fan. He grew up in Connecticut, but his dad worked in a factory and loved the Browns, which made his son love them, too. The things the team represented meant more than geography. So Barr bought season tickets, and he drove 500 miles to every game until, a few months ago, he quit his job, left behind a steady check and benefits, and moved to Cleveland. He still hasn't found work. He lives out of a suitcase. He is lonely except for the few hours he communes with other fans on game day. He plays solitaire. He spends his days at a library looking for jobs. The money's gonna run out. Things seem bad. He wonders why he did this. He's 33, alone, with no furniture, no job, no future. But a few days ago, a glimmer of hope arrived. He got a call from a fellow Browns fan. Guy lived in Tennessee and read about Barr in the paper and wanted to do something. The Samaritan gathered oak and cut it into boards, smoothing each one, carefully putting them together, using his own hands to build someone he'd never met a bed. Then he delivered it to Barr. A man ought to have a bed. The Browns fan refused to take any money. All he wanted was a promise from Barr: When you're on your feet, do something kind for a stranger. That's what loving sports really means: giving part of yourself to someone you'll never know because the giving makes you feel good. At their worst, sports fans in a place like this can be crazier than the craziest ex-girlfriend. But at their best, they create a community.

They are willing to do something kind for a stranger.

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