Friday, May 30, 2008

The Far Side...

…realizes that it has been punking out lately when it comes to this weekly posting. It realizes that anybody can go find a thought or article from some famed individual and put it up or, to be even lazier, simply link to it. It understands that this was really supposed to be something a little bit different, something that it may not always be typing up to. In this vane it apologizes and will try to return to the original, if irreverent, style that was the original objective.
//Howevah(!), it would also like it to be known that Sefer Vayikra does not exactly contain some of the easiest stuff to borrow from when it comes to a novice such as myself.
Finally, it is making a solemn vow that from this time forward it will never again type in the second person (it is using the second person, right?).//
יז וַיְדַבֵּר יְהוָה, אֶל-מֹשֶׁה וְאֶל-אַהֲרֹן לֵאמֹר.יח אַל-תַּכְרִיתוּ, אֶת-שֵׁבֶט מִשְׁפְּחֹת הַקְּהָתִי, מִתּוֹךְ, הַלְוִיִּם.יט וְזֹאת עֲשׂוּ לָהֶם, וְחָיוּ וְלֹא יָמֻתוּ, בְּגִשְׁתָּם, אֶת-קֹדֶשׁ הַקֳּדָשִׁים: אַהֲרֹן וּבָנָיו, יָבֹאוּ, וְשָׂמוּ אוֹתָם אִישׁ אִישׁ עַל-עֲבֹדָתוֹ, וְאֶל-מַשָּׂאוֹ.

(chapter 4)
17 And the LORD spoke unto Moses and unto Aaron, saying:18 'Cut ye not off the tribe of the families of the Kohathites from among the Levites;19 but thus do unto them, that they may live, and not die, when they approach unto the most holy things: Aaron and his sons shall go in, and appoint them every one to his service and to his burden;
The above pesukim warn Moshe & Aaron, and by extension Klal Yisroel for all time, that they should not allow the families of Kehath to be wiped out.

Oooookay, and why exactly should we be concerned that such a fate should befall this particular family? Also, what is so important about them that we should take extra special care to ensure their survival? Surely we should try and prevent any family line from within Bnei Yisroel from being wiped out.
I for one would shudder to think what the future of our great people would look like if certain families, who for reasons unknown are not specified in the Torah, would become lost from our illustrious family tree. What, for instance, would we do if the branch inscribed with the name of Goldish was to be broken off? To even bring myself to imagine such a time is to risk a state of melancholy not know to this world since a young man with a toothy grin and an orange 7 on his back reached into the collective chests of the inhabitants of a city on the shores of Lake Erie, ripped away their still beating hearts, held them aloft to some unknown deity to whom he had traded his soul for success in this world...

I digress, back to the Kehathites…the family of Kehath had the distinctive job of carrying the kelim (vessels) of the Mishkan (Tabernacle) which included such items as the Shulchan (table) , Menorah and Aron (the Ark) (…dun, du-dun, dun, dun, du-dun…dun, du-dun, dun, dun, du-dun, dun, dun…dun, du-DUN, dun, du-DUN, dun, du-DUN, DUN, DUN!…So, Dr. Jones, we meet careful not to look directly at the Ark of The Covenant—it’ll melt your face off).

Shoot, I did it again, once again I digress…the Bnei Kehath were aware that there was great merit in carrying the kelim of the Mishkan. However, arguments arose over who would carry the Aron HaKodesh, for there was supreme merit in “carrying” the Aron (nobody really carried the Aron, we are taught that it more carried itself and people merely walk beneath the poles as a show of respect and that so to speak the Ark carried , in a way...wait for it, wait for it... they were the original Riders of the Lost Ark...get it...oh come on, that's damn funny!...okay, maybe not).

There is a medrash that relates how it became very unseemly amongst the Kehathites, there was so much infighting, to the point that it lead to kalos rosh (an unseriousness of mind) while performing their avodah. Due to being in this state while in such close contact with items of such a holy nature, people began dying on the job – one cannot act in such a manner before the Aron.
In response to this state of affairs Aaron and his sons have to come and intercede, to set up some type of system, of who will carry what and when, to eliminate the fighting. They had to do this to ensure, quite bluntly, that everybody did not end up dead.

So now we know why we needed to worry (say that ten x’s fast) about the families of Kehath, why they were predisposed to being wiped out. And yet, it goes a little farther (further?) than that.

There is a greater idea in play here, one that is detailed quite clearly in Mesilas Yesharim (Path of the Just), chapter 20.
[That’s right. I went there, Mesilas Yesharim baby! Bet nobody ever thought they would see a mussar sefer trotted out in this spot. Well, don’t get too excited...I’m cherry picking a particular part that may not exactly be the favorite of the people at large in today’s religious climate.]
The title of that chapter is במשקל החסידות or Concerning the Weighing of Saintliness. It talks about weighing your chasidus (piety/saintliness), and making sure that you do not commit aveiros (sins) in your zeal to perform mitzvohs (commandments/good deeds). I highly recommend taking a few minutes to read through it, the whole thing is a handful of paragraphs.
We see, then, that one who would be a true Saint must weigh all of his deeds in relation to their results and in relation to all of the circumstances surrounding their performance - time, social environment, situation and place. And if he finds that not doing will go farther towards sanctifying the Name of Heaven and giving pleasure to God than doing, he must refrain from doing. Or, if one action appears good, but is bad in its results or in its complements, and another appears bad, but is good in its results, he must decide on the basis of the conclusion and the result, the true fruit of the action. This decision is left to an understanding heart and an honest intelligence, for, in view of their innumerability, it is impossible to consider particular instances. "God gives wisdom; from His mouth stems knowledge and understanding" (Proverbs 2:6).

An example of this behavior is the actions of the families of Kehath. So as we asked above: Why is it so important that they not act in this manner, why are they perhaps more important than other families within Klal Yisroel?
They are Leviim!…Kohanim! There is a responsibility that comes along with that. Even more, Kehath specifically carries the most prized of our possessions. Outside of the Kohen Gadol, who comes in closer contact with Shechinah than them?!
Yes, they-are-special! They must be preserved, must be made to act in the correct manner, in order to set an example for the rest of Bnei Yisroel. To teach the nation that there is more than simply WHAT you do…there is HOW you do it.

That if one thinks that they can lead a life of doing either one correctly without the other…well…the outcome can be deadly.

Ten Lessons

MiI has an excellent post that I think everyone should check out: Ten Lessons for Our Daughters.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

And This Is Why...

...we shouldn't allow overtired Stern students on summer break to oversleep in our apartment while we go to work.

OCD Winkie Addict

(there is no point to this post, look somewhere else for deep meaningful inspiration)

On our (lately frequent) trips to NY, i always try to pick up a few sacred food items that we can't get here (not that we get much here).... Rice cakes, Klik (specifically Krem Chalav) bars, and Winkies.

Despite the choking 'dust' particles that get inhaled too quickly, or the burning feeling that requires a drink of something stronger than water, i just can't stop eating Winkies. Of course, until i finish the bag and then I have to wait for another trip to NY. (And then it's very exciting to find a last hidden roll inside a sweatshirt or a purse)

I've realized that I eat the Winkies in a specific manner... I eat the 'bad' flavors first, and save the best for last. (Purple, Yellow, and Orange are 'bad'). I also eat two at a time, and wait for the to get melty in my mouth until the edges fall off. As if i don't get made fun of enough for being a tad "OCD".

Of course, this requires a new gchat status: "OCD Winkie Addict".... Which led me to a pretty darn funny quote by TheApple... (sorry TA!)

theapple: does that mean that you organize the winkies by color before you eat them? and that you leave over one winkie in each color so that you have a rainbow?
stam: it means i eat two at a time, worst colors first
theapple: what's the worst color? they all taste the same - sugary chalk
stam: purple, orange, yellow
theapple: i think green is the worst
stam: u just said they all taste the same :)
theapple: i did. hmm...

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Ezzie's Blog Roundup, 5/28

As the slew of [real-life] guests and visitors dies down for a while, and SerandEz have some important stuff to take care of, this blog has been and is being sadly neglected in terms of 'real' content. Thankfully, there are plenty of other wonderful blogs out there with quality content to fill your fix, and this is just some of the stuff I found really interesting the past day or so:
  • LOR pointed to the reopening of the very interesting and entertaining Pravda blog, mostly focused on pointing out the foibles and issues in the Charedi world, particularly what is printed in the Yated.
  • SoccerDad and Trep both discussed ex-President Jimmy Carter's revelation in public about Israel's nuclear weapons. This is hugely problematic for many reasons, as they note.
  • Shoshana notes an interesting piece in the NYT about the collision of science and the humanities. I actually think it's an issue for different reasons than most might, namely what we will do as science continues finding that different races and groups are more or less skilled in certain areas, and how that will affect how people are treated.
  • Via JDJ, FrumPunk has a hilarious listing of things you won't hear on a shidduch date.
  • ProfK (from Scraps) links to an interesting piece about saving vs. debt with some real numbers:
    Add another five years to the same patterns, and the results are even more dramatic. After 10 years, the person who saved $10 a day would have $46,585 in the bank, whereas the person whop spent the $10 he didn't have would be $167,470 in debt, resulting in a net worth difference of over $210,000.
  • Thought-provoking quote on ASJ.
  • Noyam has an interesting argument about same-sex marriage.
  • R' Gil discusses giving proper attribution in Jewish publications.
  • BeyondBT with an interesting post about following chumras.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

This seems like a nice thing to have.

Hat tip: Pobody's Nerfect

I don't mind the penguin look, but I'm open to other types as well.

Ya know.

Like a budgie.

Well Waddaya Know XII

Last week's question and answer:
Which part of the brain is not involved in speech?
Parietal Lobe
9 (32%)
Temporal Lobe
5 (17%)
Frontal Lobe
4 (14%)
Occipital Lobe
17 (60%)

Votes so far: 28

The answer is the occipital lobe. Broca's area, found in the frontal lobe, is responsible for the motor skills involved in speech. Wernicke's area found in the temporal lobe, is respomsible for assigning meaning to words. In the parietal lobe is an area which is responsible for grammar.
This week's question is up to the left. Enjoy!

Interesting Stuff

  • Moshe passed along this really fascinating piece (despite its length) by Emily Gould, a former member of Gawker about blogging, blogging personal information, and the like. Worth the 15 minutes.
  • R' Horowitz is speaking tonight in Brooklyn for all who are interested about The Talk.

    With everything that is going on nowadays, many parents have been asking me if, how, and when to have "The Talk" with their children -- speaking to them about privacy matters and abuse prevention in a manner that is consistent with our values of tzniyus -- before the summer.

    I will be addressing this topic this evening, and the issue of supervision of teen children, in light of all that transpired in the Catskills last summer, when I speak in Brooklyn on "Meeting Summer’s Unique Chinuch Challenges" for the Ha'Or Beacon School.

    The lecture is open to the public and will begin at 8:00 p.m. tonight, Tuesday, May 27th, 2008 at the Young Israel of Midwood, 1694 Ocean Avenue. The admission is free; there will be separate seating, and light refreshments. A question and answer session will follow my presentation.

  • JBM interviewed Frum Satire. It's interesting how Heshy differentiates the public blog life from the private one.


I think it's actually easier to do these in life than at work. Today, however, I have to do it at work, in addition to setting my goals for the upcoming year. I couldn't help but laugh at the immediate comments I got when I said that's what I'm about to do:
  • RN: "I did my job. Now give me a raise."
  • Special Ed: Self-evaluation: When you try to convince people you thought about it before you said you're doing a great job.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Writing vs. Editing

In writing, as in life, it is often far easier to find the faults in others than to see them in ourselves. In life, we almost always see the faults in others, along with knowing exactly what they need to do to "fix" the fault and just how it negatively affects them in their daily life. Meanwhile, we are either unaware of the same fault in ourselves, or choose to say "well, that's just me, deal with it."

G has so kindly referred to me as something along the lines of "Master Editor" of this blog. The truth is, I've always enjoyed editing far more than writing - I would glance at friends' papers in high school and immediately see a number of ways to improve, spruce up, or spice up even rather decent essays. In college, I did the same with papers and theses, sometimes getting paid for doing something that I actually enjoyed doing. Now, I'll take a look at posts or papers or books for people, and I'll still note which parts are unclear, which are too complicated, and which are simply boring.

And yet... my own writing is just not all that great. It's generally easy to read, and that's worth something, but it's not particularly deep, rarely written particularly well, and outside of slightly rewriting a sentence I'm in middle of, almost never gets edited. In fact, unless I was made to, I never had a "draft" in school - I just churned out the essay or paper and handed it in. Rewrite? Look for mistakes? Care to change from what I wrote the first time? These ideas always were foreign to me... best to just write it once, well, and that was it. If anything, I took my extra care in advance: While some may call this procrastination, I would generally spend time sitting with an open but empty Word document while I surfed the internet, reading, writing, checking my fantasy baseball team, and the like, while thinking about how I am going to format my essay - what it will be about, what parts I should leave out or insert, what points I wish to drive home - and then I'd start writing at about 12:30 (or 1, or 2...) in the morning and finish a little while later.

But editing... editing I can almost always do. There's something fun and interesting about editing. Perhaps it's the lack of pressure involved: If you miss something, it's not your "mistake". Perhaps it's the efficiency aspect: With very little work, a person can take something that's okay, or even decent, and turn it into something far better. Perhaps it's the ability to read or learn something new or interesting or important and take part in its getting out there for others to read. Perhaps it's a combination of all of these, really. Whatever it is, there's just something about editing that's fun and interesting that I enjoy even more than the writing itself.

Thanking Those Who've Made it a Holidy Weekend

As we're all enjoying our Holiday Weekend Jameel has taken a minute to help us recognize the sacrifice made by the members of our Armed Forces.

"The beauty and serenity of Virginia’s rolling hills and awe inspiring views of Washington D.C. clash with today’s reality of national loss, where grief is raw and in your face. You step over grass sods still taking root over freshly dug graves. You watch a mother kiss her son’s tombstone. Two soldiers put flowers and a cold beer next to the grave of a fallen buddy. A young son left a hand-written note for his dad. “I hope you like Heven, hope you liked Virginia very much hope you like the Holidays. I also see you every Sunday. Please write back!”

The rest is just as powerful.

I just want to take a minute to thank the guys I know, and everybody else for their sacrifice and devotion on our behalf.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Stuff From Shabbos

And the award for most memorable line(s) goes to... Erachet! For making a complete and utter fool of herself on more than one occasion. Best of the best:
  • "Why is the Talmud Bavli wearing tights?!"
  • "Is that a keyboard [on the couch]?" Pobody's Nerfect: "Yes." Er: "Who plays the keyboard!?" PN: "Not THAT kind of keyboard!" Er: [pause] "Oh!" Ezzie: "Wow, you seriously need to sleep."
  • "Sniffer!"
  • While being talked to at table Friday night, 98% asleep: "So how do you know Serach & Ezzie?" 'Huh? [blank stare] Um, we're friends.' "Do you go to Stern?" 'Huh? [blank stare] Yes.' {goes back to sleeping with eyes open}
  • "It might be go!?" 'Um, that says 90.' "...oh."

Friday, May 23, 2008

What Students Have

I wasn't much of a school person, though I always enjoyed campus life and having friends around. But I must admit that there's at least one aspect of it that I miss tremendously: The End of the Year. Forgetting all the parties and fun and hanging out "one last time" for about a month and a half; there was that last little bit of time, where everyone's packing up, and you start thinking back over the last year and all that has happened - everything you've learned, everything you've gained, all that has changed... it's really something. In the working world, there really isn't any 'good time' to do this - every week, every month, flows one into the next, and you never get that feeling like "here's a stopping point, let me sit back and just think for a bit".

I'm sure some people will point to holidays, vacations, Yomim Tovim, and the like as opportunities, but they're really not - if you're working full-time, and especially if you have other responsibilities, you simply don't have the time to let your mind slow down like that. (Not to mention that you have no vacation days thanks to the Yomim Tovim.) You're rushing to make Yom Tov, then you're rushing to make up work from it, and you're traveling to see all the family you never really get to see, and you're catching up quickly with friends who you don't really have time to talk to... it's never ending. It makes you miss those school days with their 3-month summers and clear-cut semesters and goals and guidelines and assignments, if only to have that ending to just stop and reflect.

On that note, I particularly appreciated this beautiful post by my good friend Moshe about the lessons he's learned this past year, and on a similar note, these posts by Erachet, the Apple, and Chana. Check them all out.

UPDATE: And SJ, just after I posted this. :)

The Far Side... going linky this week.

--Culled from the Hirhurim round-up--

Please see the following worthwhile pieces from Rabbi Breitowitz and also one from Rabbi Frand...

What??...I'm shouting?!...Hold on, let me turn the music down...

Sorry about that, where were we?

Rav Frand's piece is fairly topical given the current state of affairs in Eretz Yisroel. However, you will notice that it was written in 2003 so please do not take it to represent any sort of stance. It is what it is, his customary "big picture" approach to Klal Yisroel and Judaism.

In the spirit of Lag Baomer Rabbi Breitowitz's two pieces tackle an old argument in a well written, thought out and clear headed manner.

And yet, as a commented at Hirhurim...
With all due respect to Rabbi Breitowitz (and I mean that, these two links give a good representation), his two articles are a crystallization of much of what is missing in today's orthodox education.

His two articles are well written and contain clear, level-headed thinking...hence the danger, because there is a glaring omission.

Where is article No. 3!? The logical third piece should lay out "Entering the Torah-only World: Pros and Cons", just as the second does so well for the professional world.

Alas, I see no link 3.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Ezzie Posted the "Angriest Drivers", Here are the Dumbest

The Nation's Dumbest Drivers

Jersey is #1, with MA, MD, and DC somewhere in the rest.

Where does YOUR state fall?

(update: Link worked for me on two different computers... maybe it IS just you)

No Jew Scotsman...

...(see what I did there?) would actually wear this Tartan as it lacks one of the two colors that truly define Judaism: The black of "Black&White" (and the white is only included as part of the Blue&White of the Isreali flag know what, I think I'm gonna leave that one alone).

However, you have to give this person points for creativity and originality.

Ach, it's na' a skirt I tell ya''s a Kilt! It takes a real man to be able t...oh, who am I kidding.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Two Sides of a Coin

(Hat tip: Shoshana) This post by Gila is profound, excellent, and extremely thought-provoking. Excerpts:
Life is not fair but we desperately wish to think it is. We are not all equally blessed…but who on Earth can comfortably stomach the concept that he has been shortchanged by G-d? This is why we spend so much time justifying reality. That is why we put forth so much effort inventing and then trotting out our "this is really a good thing, this is for the best" mantras. I am no different from anyone else. In respect to the bombing, if not in respect to various other aspects of my life, I have my own collection of mantras. I was blessed. What happened to me was for the best. I am a better person for what happened. If G-d were to come to me today with an offer to repeat this period of my life, but without the bombing, I would turn Him down. Usually, these mantras satisfy my craving for blessings. Nonetheless, every so often, I find myself questioning the fairness of it all. ...

I was discussing with a friend the health of a third woman we are both friends with. This woman underwent difficult fertility treatments in order to have her first child. In the course of checkups to prepare for a new round of IVF, it was discovered that she had cancer. She spent the next year in treatments; as of that time she had been given a clean bill of health though it was not clear if she would be able to bear any more children. My friend's take on all this was similar, though not identical, to that of Michael's friends: if it were not for the fact that our friend had fertility problems, and that doctors insist on such a careful check before starting fertility treatment, the cancer never would have been caught so early and her cure would not have been nearly as assured. Ergo, our friend was lucky. I took the part of Michael. I found this type of logic ridiculous. Our friend had to suffer through fertility problems and cancer. She should not have had to go through either, much less both, and certainly not both by the age of 30. How can you possibly define this as luck? This should not be.
On a separate note, R' Horowitz's son is engaged - mazel tov!

Yeshivat Rambam Auction

In one of our favorite cities of Baltimore, MD, there is a wonderful Jewish day school called Yeshivat Rambam (with kids from Early Childhood through 12th grade). My sister has worked there for 6 years, has 2 kids enrolled, another starting next year, and really loves it - both for herself, but more importantly, her kids.

This year, on June 15th, from 6:00-9:00pm, they are holding their first auction in an effort to raise funds for the school, in addition to a very nice blood drive earlier in the day. They'll be having an auction for adults in the evening and a kids' centered auction (for little kids and teens) in the afternoon, which will also feature a magic show for the kids. This is the first time in Baltimore that they had an auction geared just for kids with prizes that they are interested in winning and are very low cost tickets ($2, $4, $6, $8, $10). The larger, regular auction also has low price tickets with the tickets ranging from $5 - $30 a ticket. It will be at the Park Heights JCC with great food in the evening: Sushi bar, potato bar and smoothies to name just a few.

If you're not in Baltimore, you can go online and order easily at The prizes are really impressive, with a lot of support from the Baltimore community in making this auction possible and open to people from everywhere to take part in and help support the school. One great supporter even started a Facebook page about it. The support and appreciation people have for the school is wonderful, and they now need more support to continue to grow and bring the school to an even higher level.

Here's more information about Yeshivat Rambam; and here is all the ordering info for tickets, including the discounts available the earlier you buy tickets online. And of course, here is a list of the frequently asked questions. If you're still looking for more information, you can contact Rambam directly:
Via Phone: 410-358-6091 x206
Via Email:
Finally, here's the link with all the info. Please support this very worthy institution, and have fun!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Questions about questions

I have a question. Well, I guess it's not really a question but...okay, a question. So I've been blogging for a little over a year now and there have been times where I've written or read posts with these deep philosophical questions. It's always kind of fun to discuss them, but even more than fun, it's really frustrating. I guess what I'm wondering is...from the opinion of those who have been blogging far longer than I have, what is the value of asking questions with no answers? What is the value in discussing them? Doesn't it just create further frustration? I find myself sometimes unable to sleep at night because all these philosophical things are bothering me so much. And the more I discuss them, the more they're on my mind. And I guess I like having them on my mind, but it's so frustrating to work and work and work at them and never go anywhere but in circles. Where do these questions lead? What becomes of them? What is their value? What is the good in talking about them if we can get nowhere? How can we find answers that will satisfy us enough to move on? Or are we not supposed to move on? Are we supposed to try to find answers, or are the discussions themselves worth enough?

And the weird thing is, I keep thinking that if, somehow, we did find answers, they would be completely unsatisfying - almost anticlimactic to the intense discussions that surround the questions. So do we really want answers, or do we want discussions? But discussions that lead nowhere? Or do they really lead somewhere?

I'm not even quite sure what I'm asking. It's just been bothering me.

California, Gay Marriage, and Law

A few worthwhile posts on the issue:
  • LWY is focused more on how this will play in the national elections;
  • Noyam is more intent on the Defense of Marriage Act;
  • and BrightLightSearch has a rather excellent essay on the subject in general, focusing on this case in specific only to start. It's a great read (whether you agree or not).

Fuzzy Math

In a post yesterday, ProfK made a point that reminded me of a discussion that we had here on Shabbos:
Along with the aforementioned "laws" are two others: 1) the whole is equal to the sum of its parts and 2) no part can be greater than the whole. This is where things get a little sticky in the frum world. There are those who act as if these principles are false when it comes to religion.

If the whole is equal to the sum of its parts, then there is no "whole" without all the parts. We have Klal Yisroel--let's call that our whole. There are any number of parts that make up that whole. They are not all identical but they are all parts. Because there can be no whole without ALL the parts, every part has value. Try paying for something that costs $1.00 with only 81 cents. There are some parts of Klal that are clearly not happy with this state of things. Not only do they feel that other parts of Klal have no value, but they don't seem to consider them parts of the whole at all. Some parts seem to feel that if the other parts disappeared altogether the whole would be strengthened, not diminished. Some parts seem to feel that unless all the other parts are exactly like them then those different parts cannot belong to the whole.
On Shabbos, we were discussing the Charedi world - particularly in Eretz Yisrael - and the economics thereof. Included on the guest list were two brothers with opposing views: One half-jokingly suggested cutting off the charedi world completely when it came to finances, while the other was clearly upset by this remark.

Now, I'm more than a little biased: I have 40 charedi relatives, including more than a few who are directly benefited by the government, living in Israel. I'd like them to be able to live in a much more comfortable fashion, without question. But as I posed to this brother... who exactly should be paying for this?

It is very simplistic to argue that which I've heard many times before, that the Charedim are doing their share of supporting the country by learning. Whether this is true or not, and even this brother seemed to feel that it should be limited to a much more select group, this is a line of reasoning that simply will not fly among the rest of the country. This is true for a few reasons, but primary among them is the lack of feeling by the rest of the country that the Charedim include them in any other way into their lives. It is hard to completely cut yourself off as a group from everyone else for everything but money - to treat almost everyone else as a subgroup of Judaim, while simultaneously announcing that your group deserves to get handouts from everyone via the government. And while it's very easy to wave off the government as anti-Torah, but without showing them why they should be pro-Torah, it's impossible to expect them to give money toward it.

While thinking of governments, we found it interesting later in the day to read 3:2 in Pirkei Avos later that day: "Pray for the welfare of the government, because if people did not fear it, a person would swallow his fellow alive." According to R' Yonah (via Artscroll), it is a call for Jews to take an interest in public issues. Meanwhile, Mili D'Avos notes that it is a continuation from 3:1, which calls on people to recognize where they come from (a putrid drop) and where they are going (to a place of dust, worms, and maggots) so as not to sin. While that works when it comes to sinning against God, it doesn't when it comes to man - after all, he is coming from the same nothing and heading to the same fate, and a person might feel they have "earned" a higher stature. To counter this, R' Chanina says that it is only fear of governmental intervention that can stop someone.

It is interesting that communal problems often start where groups seem to at best ignore, at worst outright defy governmental guidelines and decide for themselves what should be happening. If groups within the Jewish community wish certain things for themselves, the way to go about it is not to try and force it on the rest of the community, even as they don't take part in the whole. It has to come by working from within, by understanding the give and take necessary to get whatever it is they desire. This needs to be done on a personal, religious, communal, and governmental level, or the splits that are already all too clear will lead to a level of abandonment in which neither side will feel a responsibility to help the other recover from the mistakes they warned about.

Common Sense

Monday was the yahrtzeit of my Uncle Marvin, discussed previously on this blog. I think that it ties in well with what most of the posts in this roundup, particularly the best of the bunch, remind me of: Common sense. Not only did he have it, but more importantly, he instilled it into his children, who are instilling it into theirs. There's something to be said for finding people with it - whether as a spouse, teacher, employer/employee, etc.

On the lack of side, there's this group:
  • Wolf discusses an article saying that loshon hara causes... science. Oy.
  • Meryl and Dave both discuss a suicide bomber who was shot by Israeli soldiers when they realized what he was. It's interesting to read the retelling of the story by different Palestinian news outlets... and just how quickly it changes for the worse. Sick. Worse yet, people on this side of the ocean buy into this garbage.
  • ProfK discusses those who can't do the math: When you exclude someone who shouldn't be, then you don't have a whole group. I actually want to discuss something similar later, we'll see if I have a chance.
  • and RafiG notes that some posters in RBS are likely actually fakes posted by the other side, in hopes of drumming up backward support for their cause. This isn't smart because not only is it easy to verify, but if you get seen, it's exponentially more inflammatory.
On the common sense side, however:
  • Life of Rubin links to and praises a very nice editorial on VIN News regarding R' Horowitz, in response to the letter to the editor in Mishpacha (and the subsequent post that was thankfully eventually taken down by Yeshiva World).
  • RafiG has a couple of truly amazing stories that are worth checking out.
  • Sephardi Lady has no true solution, but discusses the need for more exercise among kids in the frum community, tying it loosely to shidduchim and ED's.
  • and Treppenwitz has another IDF heals Palestinian story, which rarely get enough press.
The best of them all for today, however, is this post by West Bank Mama: You Don't Need To Give Up Your Common Sense To Be An Orthodox Jew. Check it out.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Well Waddaya Know XI

Last week's question and answer:
Which part of the brain is involved in deja vu?

Which part of the brain is involved in deja vu?
Frontal Lobe
11 (22%)
Parietal Lobe
6 (12%)
Occipital Lobe
12 (24%)
Temporal Lobe
21 (42%)

Votes so far: 50
Poll closed

The answer is the temporal lobe; in general, this part of the brain integrates information and forms our picture of reality.
This week's question is up to the left. Enjoy!

Presidential Caption Contest...

...upon the return of the most powerful man in the free world from the most volatile region on the planet.

You know the rules -- Smart & Funny are the only criteria.

"No kiddin'!? So Spielberg came all the way over here to take a look at this and STILL decided to base the new Indiana Jones movie on those ridiculous crystal skulls?!

What an idiot!"


Some Jews need help

Here's my response to this:

5 Shiurim @ 2 hours a piece = 10 Hours

10 or 20 Shekel X 5 Shiurim = 50 or 100 Shekel

Another way to spend 20 hours:

5 Minchas @ 15 minutes (say a nice long Shemona Esrei, ask Hashem for everything you need) a piece = 1.15 hours

8.45 hours @ a trained certified licensed therapist

50 or 100 shekel getting to and from the therapist.

A few things I've learned so far in life:

You can't be happy with God unless you're happy with yourself.

You can't be happy with yourself unless you know why you're not happy.

And you can't know why you're unhappy unless you know what's wrong with you.

Now let me clarify. I'm not by any means trying to be facetious. I honestly believe that trained and learned and up to date Psychologists/Psychiatrists do a lot better job figuring out what's wrong with us than we can. That's in fact exactly what they are trained to do. I don't get paid to figure out what's wrong with me. I get paid to be an accountant. If I have problems in my life that I can't figure out or I can't readily and easily solve in an every day sort of manner, I go to a shrink, and they tell me what's wrong with me.

And then once I figure out what's wrong with me, and I work on it, and I feel better, then I can go work on my relationship with God and tikkun and my yiddishkeit and my emunah and all that stuff. And where do I go to for that? Well first, the Big Man Himself (through prayer) and then this neat little book he gave us back on some mountain called the Torah. And I read all the wonderful seforim that his righteous disciples wrote up ('cuz that's what they get paid to do) specifically for people like me who have trouble in those areas that I just mentioned.

I'm not saying it's all black and white and I'm not saying it's this simple. But I am asking who is this woman to go preach a method of overcoming serious trauma and getting closer to Hashem when it seems as if she's qualified in neither of the above.

It's great if it works for you or for them or for some people. That's all fine and good. Well you know what, I got something else you may want to try. His name was Jesus Christ. All you have to do is believe that he was your lord and savior and that he died for your sins, and your entire life will change. That belief alone will promise you a great many blessings and grant you wonderful mental and spiritual security. It in fact will guarantee your safe passageway to heaven. And it's as simple as believing. That's all I ask is that you believe and put 10 shekel in this jar.


I just made you a Christian.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Our Hero in Damascus

Today marks the 43rd yahrtzeit of Israel's Master Spy in Damascus, Eli Cohen, ה"יד

Reads about this modern Israeli hero over here at the Muqata who gave his life for Israel.

Shavua tov,


The Yeshiva World Strikes Again

Two guys go read the comments on The Yeshiva World. A cynic will say these comments can't get any worse, an optimist says of course they can.

Turns out the optimist was right.

And I doubt they'll be taking this one down because of insulting comments.

Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy was hospitalized Saturday morning after suffering a seizure in his Cape Cod home. Kennedy was brought to Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, where he spent the day undergoing tests to determine the cause of the seizure....

  1. better him than one of ours.Refuoh Shleimo l’cholei Yisroel.

    Comment by Proud of KAJ-WH TIDE — May 17, 2008 @ 9:49 pm

  2. Good luck to the malach hamoves with Teddy.

    Comment by Joseph — May 17, 2008 @ 10:20 pm

Read the rest of the comments here

Friday, May 16, 2008

Charitable Bloggers

I'd like to note two J-bloggers who are doing something on behalf of important charities and could use your support; Neil Harris and Diana (Princess D'Tiara). While I've never met Neil, just from our e-mail conversations it is clear he's an incredible mensch; he is biking on behalf of Chai Lifeline. Diana is walking for ATIME, which is an incredible organization that helps women and families in cases of infertility, miscarriage, and adoption. Both Diana and we ourselves have good friends who have been helped out by ATIME; far more people are affected then we often realize. Please, if you can help in any way, support these causes.

Ezzie's Blog Roundup, 5/16

  • Indexed shows how most articles, and really any piece of opinion writing (think blogposts), begin.
  • Jack has a really adorable story from bedtime with his son - covering boys, girls, love, and all the good stuff.
  • An interesting collection of stories in the 5TJT of R' Henoch Leibowitz.
  • Sephardi Lady questions the odd budget of another letter writer.
  • Daled Amos notes Bush is being blasted for blasting appeasement. Pay attention to who is saying what here; kudos to Bush for speaking out.
  • Life-of-Rubin wonders where the outrage is when it's Jewish kids being attacked.
  • Via Batya, a great guest editorial in the New York Times by David Brooks today, taking Obama to task for his naivete.
  • The YU Vent crunches the numbers and wonders why YU charges more than double what they did just ten years ago, questioning what exactly they've added that is worth the increase.
  • MiI exposes another odd cult in Israel, this one in the Religious Zionist community. These things are really freaky.
Have a wonderful Shabbos!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

'Twas Bound to Happen

Good old Yeshiva World. (thanks Wolf for pointing it out)

...after all, chas v'shalom someone point out the problems within the frum (particularly the yeshivish) community, especially if that someone is a Rav with some measure of respect who comes from that community. This is why what R' Yakov Horowitz does is so impressive: He's putting himself out there to get lambasted by people like this for simply doing what is right.

My favorite comments so far: (emphasis mine) [NOTE: YW is deleting comments, so some may have disappeared.]
  • i think tk is one 1000% right. i have a son in ytv he is doing great. he has a great frum class. im not saying there is no problem kids. but we are not in the brink of disaster.every genaration we call these kids something else.years ago trouble makers,now we call them at risk.just blend them in with the rest of the kids and they will be fine.
  • FYI- The Agudah told me three weeks ago, upon my inquirey, that they have nothing to do with Rabbi Horowitz.

    Project No was in fact started by them, but have lost all contact with him.

  • anyone ever read his articles?
    so much hatered

    never seen anything like it before.
    some expert.

  • old news.
    the guy has been running around like daas torah since the jewish observer allowed him to write his piece 10 years ago.

    some mystake man.

  • I have a better question.
    I have yet to see his credentials for his claim as a velts expert.
    Where did it come from?

    Which expert did he get his “shimush” from.

  • I agree with the letter writer.

    He kiseder writes total kefira.


  • Actully,I am proud that Rabbi Tikotsky had the guts to stand up birabim and sign his name to this thing.


    May Hashem repay you!

    I have been screaming for the longest tme about him.

  • the guy is a “VELTS” MALSHIN!

    He has numerous times belittled gedolim.

    No Lashon Hara here.

    This is toeles big time.
    Keep people away from all his material.

  • I propose that “Rabbi” Yehuda Levin, and “Rabbi” Yaakov Horowitz team up and open their own newspapers, PR companies etc etc.

    They are the two most bitter individuals on the face of the planet.

    Nothing is ever good. Everything is treif, rabbeyim are bad, yeshivos are bad, schools are bad, parents have no clue how to raise kids, gedolim are corrupt…..blah blah blah blah blah..

    ANd by the way, I am sooooo right….and you all know that I am too.

    Let them get a life and manage a warehouse or something.
    Start shlepping boxes for a living.

    Enough of this hatred.

    I’m sick and tired of it.

I love the spelling, the claims with no backing whatsoever, the egos... all of it. Amazing comedy.

My "Shidduch List"... it stands right now. Let's see...what to do, what to do...

Snow White

--Thin, Pretty, Need to find out about family, Superior "wife" skills, Motherly, will keep a nice home, immature???, find out about living situation (what's with all the roomates)


--Thin, Pretty, No mother-Father remarried, $$$, Step-mom is difficult, aidel, kindhearted, good with kids, commited to her work, looking for a guy to take care of her


--Short, Too young??, outgoing, likes to have fun, find out if she has any real friends,

Sleeping Beauty

--Thin, Pretty, JAPy??, looking for her "prince" to come and save her, bland personality,

Jessica Rabbit



--Thin, Pretty, Dad is a mover/shaker VIP, No mother, very close to her family, needs to live close to home, little ditzy, creative, not career motivated


--Thin, Pretty, kind, baalas chesed, very friendly, find out about the family, broken engagement


--Thin, Pretty, No mom, Very nice father-influential in the community, $$$, outgoing, sheltered??, very much her own person, rebel streak


--Thin, Pretty, sheltered childhood, sweet, very traditional, parents are very involved, open to new things

Yeah, I think you're right...definitely need to find out more details before deciding who's next.

Unless, of course, I hear that the Rabbit girl is available!!!

**If anybody can act as a reference for one of the above names please feel free to fill in any blanks**

New York vs. the World

A few pieces, sent by different people, are a nice reminder of the differences between New York City (and the tri-state area, really) and the rest of the world.
  • 1) Alternate side parking. Firstly, can we have this "indefinite suspension" here in Queens? Second, I've yet to see those machines "clean" a single darned thing. It's solely meant to take money from the people and give it to the government, in case the city and state taxes weren't high enough.
  • 2) Road rage. My brother would love this one. Just as a note: Cleveland is the 5th nicest when it comes to road rage; the other top cities are Seattle, Portland, Minneapolis, and (slightly surprisingly) Pittsburgh. On the angry side, it's DC, NYC, Miami, Boston, and (slightly surprisingly) Baltimore. But that does explain something about at least one contributor here...
  • 3) Cost of living. Hey, look. I'm with others on this one. If you think New York City is the center of the universe, by all means, don't let me convince you otherwise. Stay here! Enjoy! If you don't, however... run for your life. (And your future economic, emotional, quality of life, kids', etc. sakes.)
New York. Eh.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Yeshivish Gmail

I received the latest "Feiner Baby" e-mail update from a friend today.

You know how is gmail 'reads' a date or time it will suggest adding something to your google calendar?

Well, check out what Gmail 'read' in my email and suggested to me...

Breaking News: Rocket Slams into Ashkelon Shopping Mall

Dozens hurt -- Some seriously including a 2 year old girl.

LiveBlogging coverage over @ The Muqata.


...I can only hope that in some way my previous forays into a similiar type of commenting contributed to this (I do not mean in any way to take a position...I think they are both equally right/wrong):

See this post & Comment #52.

Original Post-

Dear Friends,

I am a single girl aged 21, who is still awaiting my bashert, while almost all of my friends are married.

To my friends: I happily went to all of your Simcha’s, your Lechaim’s, Vort’s, wedding’s from beginiing to end, and helped out in all your wedding preparations.

Why is it, that the minute your wedding is over, our friendship is over?? How many nights did i spend talking to you, helping you prepare all that you needed, and all i get is a slap in the face?

I understand you don’t have as much time for me as you used to, but all I’m asking is for a two minute phone call, an email, a text - just to let me know that you are thinking about me.

You had a baby 6 months ago, and I called you to wish you Mazel Tov. Did you not have the decency to invite me over for a few minutes to see your little one? I am trying to be Don Lekaf Zchus, but it is so painful. We all chipped in for a present for you, for your wedding, and when I call you to chip in for someone else, why are you always complaining?? Did we not do the same for you? Yes, I know some will argue that you are on a Kollel budget - well, we are not millionaires either, and we manage to pay the 10 dollars.

Another thing is that when I do finally get to speak to you, you are busy interrupting every minute with tidbits about the chicken you are making as you speak to me. People like to feel important, like they have your undivided attention. if you are cooking, that is not a good time to be speaking to someone else!

Last but not least: Before you got married, you were busy saying how you will “Redd” Shidduchim to me - and all the other single friends. The minute after you get married, you changed your tune. No it’s ”I don’t know, my husband doesn’t know anyone.” Do you know how painful that is for a single girl to hear? What do you mean your husband doesn’t know anyone? (And I’m talking to my friends whose husbands learn in BMG, with over 4,000 bochurim) is there not 1 boy out there for me?

Or how about when I ask you to ask your husband to push a shidduch? The response I get is either “my husband doesn’t feel comfortable”, or “my husband is shy”. What happened to everything you said before you got married - how you would help all your friends? If you weren’t planning on helping them, you shouldn’t have said anything to begin with!

I can go on and on with story’s about how inconsiderate some (I write some, because there are a FEW select friends who are not like this) friends are to their single friends.

I think i speak for many single girls out there.

A frustrated & pained girl in Shidduchim.

Aaaaand a response from the comments-

Dear Friends,

I am a married man aged 29, who is still awaiting for my bashert (my wife actually) to get off the phone, while almost all of her friends are married, they somehow always find time to talk on the phone even now with 3 kids.

To her (my wifes) friends: She happily went to all of your Simcha’s, your Lechaim’s, Vort’s, wedding’s from beginning to end, and helped out in all your wedding preparations, including grounding me for the 4-5 hours at home to watch the kids which meant calling over my Chavrusa to learn night seder at home, as well as figuring out how to change a dipper and prop a bottle, while she was attending your simchas.

The minute the wedding is over, you understand why she didn’t have time before hand to help much, and that what she actually did happily was not that easy to do.

You understand she doesn’t have as much time for her as you used to, but all I am (the husband) asking is for the 2 minute phone call, not be just when I come home from Kollel/Work.

She had a baby 6 months ago, and you called her to wish her Mazel Tov. She did have the decency to invite you over for a few minutes to see her little one, but lacked the energy to take on guests. Neither would I let her do that for the same reason. I am trying to be Don Lekaf Zchus, you as a friend just need someone to call every so often, but it is so painful, that every day it happens when my wife needs to attend to something, during supper or when she is busy with the kids. You all chipped in for a present for her, for her wedding, and when you call her to chip in for someone else, she is complaining because to run a house with rent/utilities and what not means an ever declining bank account and ever increasing Credit card bill. Yes you did pay for me. But you have got no clue what it means to live on a Kollel budget - well, you are not millionaires either, but you managed to pay the $10.00 while we didn’t.

Another thing is that when you do finally get to speak to her, you are busy interrupting her every minute while she is doing the chicken as you speak to her. People like to feel important, like they have your undivided attention, and so does that poor chicken in that pot, it needs a womans attention or else the family wont have what to eat. if she is cooking, that is not a good time to be speaking to you so you should call her when she is not cooking, not working not busy with the laundry, not busy with her husband, not busy with her kids. I guess thats only on Shabboss after age 60.

Last but not least: Before she got married, she was busy saying how she will “Redd” Shidduchim to you - and all the other single friends. The minute she got married, she changed her tune. No it’s ”I don’t know, my husband doesn’t know anyone.” I really don’t. Neither does she have the time, she would make the time if she would know where to start. But the real reason she said then that she would redd you shiduchim was because she was as immature then as you are now. Yes she knows how painful it is, but she ain’t a shadchan, she tries here and there, but it never yet worked out. When she says her husband doesn’t know anyone. It’s because I don’t. Even though I’m in BMG, with over 4,000,000 bochurim (BTW, the real number is a little over 1000, the rest are married) as far as I can see in the Bais Medrash where I sit (around 600 seats with around 150 being singles) theres not 1 boy out there for you. Here is the math, (remember most of the math is on what you said you want):
5% of those bochurim are too chassidish for you.
1% is really really chassidish (long payos).
14% you went out with and they or you said no.
20% is not that big into midos (tooo brisk or whatever).
40% are not big enough Torahdige boys for you.
So we got 30 bochurim left, I really don’t know those 30 bochurim.

And when you ask her to ask me to push a shidduch? The response you get is either “my husband doesn’t feel comfortable”, no I really don’t. Or “my husband is shy”, I am. What happened to everything she said before she got married - how she would help all your friends - is that she tries, but life takes people to unexpected turns. Grow up it will happen to you as well. If she wasn’t planning on helping you, she wouldn’t have said anything to begin with!

I can go on and on with story’s about how inconsiderate some (I write some, because there are a FEW select friends who are not like this) friends are to their married friends.

I think i speak for many married men out there.

A frustrated married husband that can’t understand why these pained girls in Shidduchim don’t understand that people can’t be there 24 hours for them like they used to before they got married.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Raider of the Lost Ark?

This is really interesting:
German researchers claim to have found the remains of the palace of the Queen of Sheba — and an altar that may have held the Ark.

The discovery, announced by the University of Hamburg last week, has stirred skeptical rumblings from the archaeological community.

The location of the Ark, indeed its existence, has been a source of controversy for centuries. ...

"From the dating, its position and the details that we have found, I am sure that this is the palace," he said.

The palace, that is, of the Queen of Sheba, who is believed to have lived in the 10th century B.C.

After she died, her son and successor, Menelek, replaced the palace with a temple dedicated to Sirius.

The German researchers believe that the Ark was taken from Jerusalem by the queen — who had a liaison with King Solomon — and built into the altar to Sirius.

Ezzie's Blog Roundup, 5/13

Well, this is certainly going to be interesting...
  • Bad4 gives grades on her Shabbos. At SerandEz. I think we passed...
  • LWY, on a related note, discusses why shidduch lists are not only not evil, but perfectly fine.
  • RafiG shows why mothers should not be sitting baseline at basketball games. (Watch the video and read the comments.)
  • IsraellyCool has the details about the woman who was killed in Israel yesterday. Didn't know anyone was killed? Me neither. Oy.
  • Treppenwitz's son's surgery seems to have been successful, bH, and it's an interesting look into the goings-on at an Israeli hospital.
  • Jameel posts an Ani Iparon story. Hilarious!
  • Sometime commenter Bob Miller asks what to do on a long Shabbos afternoon when one lives "out of town" at BeyondBT.
  • JoeSettler notes that there's only one country that has more trees in 2008 than it did in 2007. Yes, it's Israel.
  • And students everywhere should be wary - some places are starting to not allow laptops to be used for anything but taking notes while in class. (gasp!)
Check it out.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Feds Raid Postville AgriProcessors Complex

(Hat tip: ND)

Up to 700 arrests were made as federal authorities surrounded and raided Agriprocessors' (Rubashkin's) complex in Postville, Iowa. They were looking for illegal immigrants.
The ICE agents entered the Postville plant to execute a criminal search warrant for evidence relating to aggravated identity theft, fraudulent use of Social Security numbers and other crimes, said Tim Counts, a Midwest ICE spokesman. Agents are also executing a civil search warrant for people illegally in the United States, he said.

Immigration officials told aides to U.S. Rep. Bruce Braley that they expect 600 to 700 arrests. About 1,000 to 1,050 people work at the plant, according to Iowa Workforce Development.

Chuck Larson, a truck driver for Agriprocessing, was in the plant when the agents arrived. “There has to be 100 of them,” he said of the agents.

Larson said the agents told workers to stay in place then separated them by asking those with identification to stand to the right and those with other papers, to stand to the left.

“There was plenty of hollering,” Larson said. “You couldn’t go anywhere.” When asked who was separated, Larson said those standing in the group with other papers were all Hispanic.
Guess we'll see what this means.

The Greatest Opportunities

In a similar vein to G's post from last week, R' Horowitz asked his readers to name three of the greatest threats to yiddishkeit today.

We're going to pose a similar question here: Identify three of the greatest problems or opportunities within today's Orthodox Jewish world.

I'm sure many people are thinking "What's the point? It will just sit here on some blog, a few people will read it, and nothing will happen. Same old thing." After all, much of what is discussed in the J-blogosphere or at Shabbos tables or in shul or wherever is simply ignored. Lots of people read, they nod, and... nothing happens. Once in a while, someone speaks up a little more publicly, people grunt in assent, and then... nothing happens again. Why is this any different?

Honestly, I'm not sure it is. Maybe it will all be ignored. But I've been discovering more and more lately that as these issues are discussed more and more widely, people are finally opening their eyes and ears and actually doing something. Some have found ways in which they can make small changes on their own. Some have actually brought issues to those who need to hear them and challenged them to change - whether in schools, shuls, or within the community as a whole. People have found that they're not the only ones who think Issues A and B are important, and that with enough people bringing them up, it's forcing others to stop and do something about it. Many who have in the past either cowered in the face of or ignored the problems of their friends and neighbors are now speaking up, making suggestions, and offering ideas and help.

On top of that, specifically in this instance, someone will be taking your suggestions and utilizing the best ideas as part of a submission they are giving. This blog will also try and continue to follow up on these issues as best as possible.

A couple of points. For the problems you identify, if you think there is a realistic solution, please post it. If you think there are ways to minimize the issue, please post those. If you have identified a problem but can't think of a way to solve it, please say so. If you agree with something someone else has posted, note that you think that it is an important issue as well.

So as not to steal the spotlight, I'm going to post my own list in the comments; please add your own.

Well Waddaya Know X

Last week's question and answer:
This drug is known on the streets as "angel dust":

9 (12%)
PCP (phencyclidine)
53 (72%)
2 (2%)
2 (2%)
Ecstasy (MDMA)
7 (9%)
From Shragi: The answer is PCP. Phencyclidine (commonly known as PCP or angel dust) was developed in 1956 as a potent analgesic and anesthetic agent. It was soon dropped from use because patients reported effects such as agitation, excitement, delirium, hostility, and disorginization of perceptions, but PCP continues to be used as a street drug principally because of its hallucinogenic actions.

This week's question is up to the left.

The Not So Mordy Show

1. Carry roll of pennies to help with not cursing Did
2. Don’t miss any minchas or maarivs Didn't do
3. Find a new chavrusa Didn't do
4. Learn more Pirkei Avos Didn't do
5. Continue to say no to my yetzer hora Did

School: Didn't do
1. 8 Discussion Board posts and 2 and ½ chapters of reading for His I
2. 9 Discussion Board posts and 5 chapters of reading for His II
3. Write His I paper
4. Write His II paper
5. Write 2 Lit II Papers

Work: Didn't do
1. Find other job

1. Continue to not waste time Didn't do
2. Check out thumb knife, interchangeable screw driver, and Klein wire strippers Didn't do, Did, Didn't Do
3. Clean gear (after final FAST team class on Thursday night) Did

1. Get new shoes asap Didn't do
2. Finish new V3’s Didn't do
3. Try some V4’s Didn't do
4. Get more webbing Didn't do
5. Start climbing (more) outside again Definitely DID!!!

Dating: Didn't do
1. Make some calls
2. Go on some dates
3. Find the right girl
4. Marry her

1. Muster up some guts
2. Ask girl out
3. Go on a couple of dates
4. Marry her before she changes her mind)
Out of the question

1. Fix the laptop or just buy a new one already! Didn't do
2. Help more around the house Didn't do
3. Keep room clean Didn't do
4. Clean car after fire house gets new vacuum (hehe) Didn't do
5. Continue to wake up early Definitely didn't do

Life's hard.

Details on request.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Bragging Rights

There's something to be said for consistently kicking everyone's behind at every game played. Last week, yours truly creamed a trio of Boggle experts at their own game; this week, a whole group of guests fell at Apples 2 Apples. Y'all know who you are... HA!

(Nothing like being a sore winner. :) )

Friday, May 09, 2008

Why Be Jewish

R' Gil discusses briefly the different arguments kiruv professionals and others use in dismissing them before noting the Chief Rabbi of Great Britain R' Sacks' essay on the subject which he finds somewhat more compelling. Excerpt from R' Gil's discussion of it:
The Chief Rabbi makes two points. The first is that each Jew has a responsibility to his ancestors to continue their heritage. Failing to do so is a serious neglect of duty. I know some people who find this powerful but I don't think that this is enough to motivate me to keep all of the laws of the Torah.

His second point is, to me, extremely powerful. Each Jew has an opportunity to be a part of something bigger, to transcend his own personal abilities and join a group spanning the world and the centuries, to not only follow in their footsteps but to add to their accomplishments -- to add a unique letter to their Torah scroll. Perhaps you can do that with other religions but as someone born Jewish, you have a unique opportunity to join the famous Jewish story and add your own chapter to it. If you have to ask why, then this argument is not for you. However, I believe that in this modern world of lonely disconnectedness, this is a powerful and attractive argument.

Yes, it is an emotional (rather than intellectual) argument. It is particularly effective in that sense. Of course, to most (I hope) people, Judaism still needs to be intellectually justifiable and satisfying. I believe it is. Certainly coming from R. Sacks, a man of great intellect, the argument has significant force. It also has the advantage of avoiding what I believe are the irresolvable arguments over proof and disproof.
It's certainly an interesting piece, and while I'd have to read it more carefully to form an opinion, I like Gil's point at the end which I think is the most important facet of kiruv, and truly, the continuity of Jewish life in general:
It will pique their interest and then it is the job of the Orthodox community to demonstrate the beauty of Orthodox life and the continuity it represents with the past and the future.

The Far Side...

...will once again be in transit today, and so we return with more words of wisdom from Rav Y. Frand (if it seems I got to this well whenever I need something...well, I do. I'm a fan, talmidim can be like that:):

Kohen Gadol: High Potential versus High Risk

A regular Kohen [Priest] may not marry a divorcee. However, unlike a regular Kohen, a Kohen Gadol [High Priest] may not even marry a widow. A Kohen Gadol must marry a woman who has never before been married.

The Moshav Zekeinim al haTorah (a Biblical commentary from the authors of the Talmudic Tosfos commentary) suggests a reason for this restriction on the Kohen Gadol. Had the Kohen Gadol been allowed to marry a widow, we would have been afraid of the following scenario: Perhaps the Kohen would have his eyes on a married woman, who he really wanted to marry. When he went into the Holy of Holies on Yom Kippur to utter the explicit Name of G-d (Shem haMeforash -- which has supernatural powers capable even of killing people [Rashi Shmos 2:14]), he might have in mind the husband of the woman who he wants to marry -- and thereby cause his death. To avoid this potentially life-threatening situation, the Torah commands the Kohen Gadol to only a marry a woman who was never previously married.

This reason is literally mind-boggling. Yom Kippur is the holiest day of the year. The location is the holiest spot on earth. The Kohen Gadol is going to utter from his mouth the holiest of syllables. And what are we afraid of? We are afraid that he might be thinking "I wish so-and-so would drop dead, so I can marry his wife!"

To make the matter even more astonishing, this interpretation is quoted in the Moshav Zekeinim al haTorah in the name of "HaChossid" -- the pious one. (Rav Bergman says this probably refers to the Rokeach.) This interpretation came from a person who was famous for his piety and holiness!

Rav Bergman writes that we learn from this Tosfos that there is no limit to the depths to which people can sink. This very person, who is ostensibly the holiest man in the Jewish nation, on the holiest day of the year, at the holiest place in the world, might have such evil and perverted thoughts. Such is the nature of the human being.

If this message is thoroughly depressing in terms of the wickedness of man's spirit, we need to contrast it with that of a different teaching of Chazal [our Sages].

The Medrash in Parshas Acharei Mos asks a question about the pasuk [verse] that describes the Kohen Gadol's entrance into the Holy of Holies. The pasuk says, "And no man shall be in the Tent of Meeting" [Vayikra 16:17]. The Midrash asks: "Was not the Kohen Gadol, himself, a man?" The Midrash quotes the opinion of Rabbi Avahu in the name of Rabbi Pinchas that when the Kohen Gadol entered the Holy of Holies he was not human, he was like a Heavenly Angel.

If the Kohen Gadol does everything properly, he transcends the level of humanity and rises to that of a Heavenly creature.

The first Medrash says that the Kohen Gadol can be thinking the most malevolent of thoughts when he enters the Holy of Holies. According to the second Medrash, the Torah testifies that a Kohen Gadol is capable of escaping all human limitations when he enters the Holy of Holies. How do we reconcile these two Medrashim?

The answer, Rav Bergman suggests, is the power of Torah and Mitzvos. As human beings, we are capable of the worst. There is no limit to the depths to which people can sink. Never think, "but we are speaking of civilized people". One only needs to read the Holocaust literature to understand that this is no argument. Human beings, without Torah and without Mitzvos and without Kedusha [Holiness] can think the worst of thoughts... _IN_ the Holy of Holies, _ON_ Yom Kippur. But by virtue of Torah and Mitzvos, a person can become elevated and transcend humanity. The Kohen Gadol can achieve such heights as well. This is a very, very, sobering thought.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Science & Torah Point to Ponder

Why is it that if you assert that nature has changed (nishtana ha'teva), you're frum, but if you say that nature has evolved, you are an apikores?

Hespedim for R' Henoch Leibowitz: Live

The feed to watch the hespedim (eulogies) from Chofetz Chaim in memory of the Rosh HaYeshiva, R' Henoch Leibowitz zt"l, is They are going to be from 3:30-5:30pm and from 8:00-10:00pm today. You can go to the Yeshiva at 76-01 147th St. in Flushing, NY to watch them live. There is seating for both men and women available.

My brother called and said you can also listen live by dialing in to (712) 432-1001; the access code is 475 061 618#.

Also, via YW, there were or will be hespedim in numerous other places around the world over the coming weeks:
-Last night in Chicago, Milwaukee, and Los Angeles.

-This Thursday night at 8:00PM in Ramat Bet Shemesh, Israel – maspidim Rabbi Hillel Waxman, Rabbi Elimelech Kornfeld (rav, the Gra Shul of Ramat Bet Shemesh) Rabbi Moshe Dov Harris.

-Next week: Sunday night (May 11) at 8:30PM in Houston Texas, maspidim Rabbi Yehoshua Wender, Rabbi Shlomo Adelman, Rabbi Eliezer Kessler, Rabbi Yisroel Helprin, Rabbi Dov Nimchinsky

-Tuesday night (May 13) at 8:30PM in Chesterfield Missouri, maspidim Rabbi Dovid Fromowitz, Rabbi Shmuel Wasser, Rabbi Aaron Winter, Rabbi Yitzchak Staum.

-Wednesday night (May 14) at 7:45PM in North Miami Beach, Florida, maspidim Rabbi Binyomin Luban, Rabbi Kalman Baumann, Rabbi Eliyahu Rabovsky, Rabbi Dovid Sharfman, Rabbi Avraham G. (Yingy) Yachnes

-Wednesday night (May 14) at 8:00PM in Cong. Ohev Shalom, Dallas Texas, maspidim Rabbi Aryeh Rodin, Rabbi Shlomo Pacht, Rabbi Eliyahu Kaufman, Rabbi Yaacov Cohen

-Thursday night (May 15) at 8:00PM in the Five Towns of Long Island, maspidim Rabbi Aryeh Z. Ginzberg, Rabbi Dovid Weinberger, Rabbi Shaya Cohen.

-Wednesday night (May 21st) at 8 pm sponsored by the Vaad of Queens and the greater Queens community, maspidim Rabbi Hershel Welcher, Rabbi Shlomo Shapiro, and others.