Friday, March 30, 2012

Who Really Sees

Sweet Friends Shalom:-)!

Let's learn a shtickel Navi [Shmuel Aleph 16].

Shmuel is told by Hashem to annoint a new king. He was to go to Yishai, have a feast [Jews and food...] and wait for instructions. He goes to Yishai and sees his son Eliav and says "He must be the one!"


Hashem says "Don't look at his appearance and tall stature for I have rejected him. כי לא אשר יראו האדם כי האדם יראה לעינים וה' יראה ללבב - Because it is not as man sees, for man sees what his eyes tell him and Hashem sees to the heart.

Then Yishai presented each one of his seven sons in front of Shmuel and each one was not chosen. So Shmuel asks if there are any more. Yishai says "Ahhhhhh, there is the youngest one. He is looking after the sheep". They call Dovid and HE was the one. Shmuel annointed him as king and went on his happy way.

What a story! We think we know somebody. We don't!! Yishai THOUGHT that all of his sons were candidates to be king except for little Dovid. Dovid was an afterthought. He was completely off. It was Dovid who was the true King of Israel.

When you see a simple Jew, maybe before you stands a great hidden tzaddik/tzadekes. When you see someone who looks impressive - don't automatically assume that the external appearance reflects an internal reality. Be humble. We don't know. Some people think that they do. "I am a good judge of character" is an oft heard refrain. But the Navi says otherwise.

כי האדם יראה לעינים וה' יראה ללבב.

Wonder of wonders.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Not Feeling Well

Sweet friends, I am nauseous [pronounced "nawshes" and for the life of me I don't know who decided on that spelling]. An article in The Jewish Press suggesting that girls undergo plastic surgery for shidduchim. Are men that superficial? Some are. There is a serious problem in our educational system when some [not all, chas vishalom] yeshiva bochrim are so fixated on a girl's looks. That is the exact opposite of what the Torah teaches. שקר החן והבל היופי! Everybody knows the pasuk but some boys go for the שקר and הבל. Please chevre - let's look for what really counts in a girl. נשמה! Leave the Hollywood shmutz for Hollywood.

Plus I had a really rough week baruch Hashem [besides the bar mitzvah] and that just sours my mood more. So as I write I decide to be bi-simcha and so I become. It helps to hum a nigun. It also helps to count your blessings. Like the ten fingers with which I type. Two kidneys. A pancreas. Two good working eyes and a pair of glasses to help them along. A cardiovascular system. Lungs. A stomach. Oxygen. A heart.

A lot of heart.

Baruch Hashem:-).

A zise shabbos tyere yidden and don't forget to daven for Yosef Chaim Yisaschar ben Chaya Mushkit.

A Thought On Tzav

Rabbi Zweig from

"Moshe brought Aharon and his sons forward and he immersed them in water"

The Rambam in his Magnum Opus, the Yad Hachazaka, records the laws of the
Kohanim in the section of Klei Hamikdosh - Vessels of the Sanctuary. The sheer
brilliance of his work is not limited to the content alone; his classifying and
codifying of the precepts are unparalleled. Why does the Rambam see fit to
include the laws of the Priesthood under the penumbra of the Vessels of the

The Torah relates that Moshe immersed Aharon and his sons in a Mikveh. He
then dressed Aharon with his Priestly vestments. Moshe anointed the Tabernacle
and all of its vessels. Only then did Moshe dress Aharon's sons.[1] Apparently,
they were waiting unclothed until Moshe completed anointing the Mishkan. Why did
Moshe not clothe the Kohanim prior to anointing the Mishkan?
The Kohanim were a function of the Mishkan, akin to the vessels of the
Mishkan. They drew their sanctity and sense of purpose from it. Therefore, prior
to donning them with their vestments, thereby completing their consecration,
Moshe first consecrated the Mishkan. It is this message, that the Kohanim were
vessels of the Mishkan, which the Rambam is conveying by including the laws of
the Kohanim in the section of Klei Hamikdash.

Your Eyes Were Once Mine

Thanks to M.S. for sending me the following story.

The following story is from a shiur given by Rabbi Zecharia Wallerstein.

There was once a young lady who was blind and she was looking for a shidduch. As a blind girl, it was very tough for her. Eventually, she was set up with a boy who fell madly in love with her, and he married her and he took very good care of her. One day he was listening to the radio and he heard that there was a doctor in the United States that dealt with blind people - this doctor performed eye transplants. The man researched it and he got himself on a list for an eye transplant for his beautiful Chana. The only problem was that there was a twenty year wait. He saw his wife was very broken. A month later, the man runs into the house exclaiming, "Chanela! It's a miracle - You're next! They found a donor for you!" She didn't ask how he did it or what he did, but she knew she was going to get eyes.

The day before the operation, as the eager couple sat in the hospital room, the man turned to his wife and said. "Chana, I have to tell you something. Not only are you blind, I'm also blind. I never wanted you to know that because I never wanted you to pity me. However, I thought I should tell you now so that you won't be shocked once you get your sight."

Chana started crying. The next day Chana received her eye transplant, and it worked. Her eyes slowly began to heal until finally she was able to see more and more and more. For the first time in her life she saw light, colors, and people.

Once she saw that her husband was in fact blind, she told herself that after all those years of being taken care of, she would now take care of him. Or at least that's how she thought it work. In her eagerness to see theworld and experience all of the things she had never been able to dobefore, she began to develop resentment for her blind husband who could not participate. Eventually the marriage began to dissolve. She didn't have the hear tot tell him in person, so she called him one day."Chaim, it's just not working. I can't live with you anymore ... I want a divorce." Chaim was shocked. "I'm sorry Chaim, but I want to see the world and I can't do that with you." Chaim sadly agreed to pack up and leave. "I"ll be out by tonight," he murmured.When she came home that night, she saw a letter on her bed that her husband had left her. She carefully opened the letter - "Dear Chana, I really and truly love you and I've always loved you. I respect your decision to leave me... but I have one big favor to ask you. Take care of those eyes, because not long ago they were mine."

There's a pasuk in Bereshis which says "Va'yitzer Hashem Elokim es ha'adamafar min ha'adama va'yipach apo nishmas chaim - Hashem created man from dirt and He blew into man His soul of life" Hashem gave us a transplant - He gave us His neshama. But all too often we forget this. What do we do with this holy soul? We tell Hashem "Thank you,the soul is great! But I have to see the world, I have to be busy with everything else but You." Never forget that Hashem gave us our "eyes" - and he expects us to use them wisely, to serve Him lovingly and sincerely, to care for our fellow yidden, and to reach our unique potentials.

What To Do

Sometimes we find ourselves at a crossroads in life and don't know what to do. We know that most decisions have spiritual implications so it is worthwhile to solicit the opinion of someone who is both highly knowledgable and his behavior reflects the Dvar Hashem. This is called a "Rebbe". עשה לך רב. This Rav can help restore a sense of clarity and even if ultimately one realizes that an incorrect decision was made [we are all human and err - even Rabbanim, even the Beis Din Hagadol in the Beis Hamikdash, which is why there is a special korban brought when the community followed their errant ruling] one may still be at peace because all that could be done to make the correct decision was in fact done.

What some people do is they solicit the opinion of various Rabbanim. This might be a good idea because it gives one a more broad perspective but what it casues in many is absolute confusion.
So for such people the best approach is to decide on a given question to ask ONE Rav and to do whatever he decides.

In areas of strict halacha I think that this is definitely the right approach. But even in the grayer areas it is often the wisest thing to do to decide on one person. Life is confusing enough as it is without making it more confusing.

So, How Was The Shiur?

לע"נ אסתר בת שמואל

Lashon Hara question: A friend goes to a shiur and you want to know how it was, is it permitted to ask? The problem is that it is really asking for lashon hara because an answer such as "lousy" or "boring" would constitute lashon hara. The Rambam rules that any speech that would cause the subject to feel pain constitutes lashon hara. Saying someone's shiur is boring would definitely cause the person pain if he hears about it.

It would seem then that one should avoid such a question. If one wants to know about the shiur and the person asked is careful about lashon hara then maybe one should ask "What did you learn in the shiur?"

If asked about a really boring shiur I think it is permitted to respond "It didn't resonate with me." I don't believe that it is lashon hara to say that you didn't connect to it. Also, if you disagreed with what was said it is permitted to repeat what was said together with your differing approach [stated respectfully].

I am just thinking out loud and this all requires more thought and research.

עיין בספר שו"ת לחפץ בחיים עמוד צח

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

"A man can no more diminish God's glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word, 'darkness' on the walls of his cell."

I think that people believe on some level that G-d will disappear if they just ignore Him.

He won't.

The Power Of Observation

Have you ever watched someone else? Millions of times. Do you know that when watching others we are involuntarily affected and influenced and that psychologically something happens inside of us that make us more likely to repeat the behavior we witnessed? [That is why it is so dangerous to expose children to popular entertainment. Watching others kill and steal creates new murderers and thieves].

Remember sweet friends, just as you observe others, so others observe you. You affect others in ways you will never know. So pay heed - you can change peoples lives.

Cool Stuff

I received an email looking for "cool stuff" on the part of the hagada that says "יכול מראש חודש". If you have anything pass it on:-).

Quote Of The Day

Thanks E.B.!

"It’s not how much or how little you have that makes you great or small, but how much or how little you are with what you have.”

Rav Shamshon Refael Hirsh

More On Graphology

A graphology story I heard from the Rebbe Shlita: There was a very wealthy talmid chacham in Toronto named Rav Avraham Price who had a photograph of his Rebbe the Holy Imrei Emes of Ger. The problem was that the picture was a little fuzzy so part of the Rebbes face wasn't clear. He hired a famous gentile artist to make a color portrait based on the photograph. The artist asked him if he had anything the Rebbe had handwritten. Rabbi Price had a letter the Rebbe had written him and he gave it to the artist. Based on the handwriting the artist filled in the unclear parts of the Rebbe's face. Meaning he was able to determine what he looked like based on his handwriting. When a chossid saw the portrait [I think it was the Rebbe's son] he stopped cold in his tracks. He said that for a second I thought the Rebbe was right here in the room.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

When Communication Begins

Tonight after the bar mitzvah the phone rang. My wife answered and gave me the phone.

"Is this Rabbi Ehrman?"

I denied it. "No, it's Ally Ehrman".

"This is "So and So". Did you say "X"?

He sounded angry.

"Yes, I did".

Why deny the truth?


He sounded angrier.

"What you should have done is ........"

"Well", I replied, "I respect your right to have a different approach but that is the way I do things". My voice was soft and calm. [It isn't always but Baruch Hashem this time it was.]

"No. That's wrong!! I spoke to Rabbi X in America about you."

Oh - you told on me?

"Listen, I was asked my opinion so I gave it."

"Well that's not the way you do things. I just called you up to tell you that. Bye."


I want to share a line with you that I once heard and recently shared with someone with whom I am close. "Communication begins the moment you stop talking." Meaning, when you stop talking, you begin LISTENING. The gentleman who called me had no interest in understanding why I have this approach to this issue. He just wanted to tell me how wrong I am. I used to agree with his approach but life has taught me that my new approach is far more effective.

If he would have listened an amazing thing would have happened.

He would have learned something.

Love and blessings...:-)

The Greatest Gift Of All

Well the bar mitzvah is over and Baruch Hashem it was beautiful. The simcha and ruach were incredibly elevating and inspiring.

Something that I thought a lot about. Almost everybody brought presents. That is really kind. Presents cost money and people work hard for their money. But I don't care much for presents [I'm not sure my son feels the same way...]. I am looking for heart [see name of blog]. Or at least a present that comes from the heart. I am by nature a seeker of heart. I was very conscious of who came with heart and who didn't. It was amazing how many people could only stay for a minute because they "had to run". Being in a rush is usually a function of what is important to a person. Nobody is ever in such a rush that he goes home halfway through his own wedding. "I have to run" means to me "My heart is really not into this simcha".

Sweet beloved friends - I am not going to change the world. All I can do is redouble my efforts to give other people MY heart.

That brings me to another point that my life experience has taught me. Sometimes you want to give someone your heart but in order to receive a heart you have to open your own. Some people are not capable or willing to do that.

I have only one word to describe this phenomenon.


Feeling The Simcha

Sweet friends - shortly I will be leaving for my son's bar mitzvah. Of course I am filled with gratitude to Hashem for giving me a son and keeping him healthy and enabling me to raise him in Yerushalayim [for the first time in my family in two thousand years!!]. The custom in these parts is that many people who attend smachos just drop in for a minute to wish mazel tov and move on.

There are bli ayin hara countless smachos every day. Brissim, bar mitzvahs, bas mitzvahs, weddings, and then more children and more smachos כן ירבו. It is really difficult to make it and spend time at all of these events.

The problem is that people never really engage themselves in others people's smachos. For their own smachos they invest preparation time and money. They then stay from beginning to end, enjoying every minute. But for others, they rush in and out and often don't feel much simcha at all and just come out of obligation.

The Rebbe Shlita often laments this fact. He stresses how important it is to really experience the joy of others.

This brings us back to an oft repeated theme on this blog. "Narcissism". The world revolves around me. A common malaise. The "avoida" tyere, precious friends is to break loose and begin to experience others as you do yourself.

The Torah has a term for this.

It's called ואהבת לרעך כמוך.

May we always share smachos beloved friends:-)!!

PS - Always appreciate feedback. I often wonder what people think. מכל מלמדי השכלתי.

Monday, March 26, 2012

The Extra Seat

On my trip back home sooooo many interesting things happened to me. Life is never boring.

I got on the plane and had an aisle seat. So far so good! But the gentleman sitting next to me was seemingly a big fan of soft drinks, junk food and other weight enhancing foods ["weight enhancing" - I LIKE that term] and I found our closeness a bit much for two people who just met. [Reminds me of the black lady at the checkout counter at the Food Emporium on 68th and Broadway whom I thanked for taking my order and she replied "OK, have a good night sweetheart". And I'm thinking "I don't really think we are advanced enough in this relationship that you should be using such terms of endearment for me".] Also, I had an interaction with him about his bags in the overhead compartment and I found him to be a disagreeable sort and didn't crave spending the next 10 hours and 15 minutes cuddling up with him.

So I searched a different part of the plane for an open seat and lo and behold I found THREE adjoining seats wide open. AHHHHHH! So I sat down and arranged my sefarim, laptop and food I had brought along. Was this going to be a great flight! No internet, no telephone, nobody to talk to [I happen to love talking to people but I also need to learn like an alcoholic needs his fix. An Allycoholic [?]. Just free time to learn. Mamesh shomayim in shomayim.

What a masmid! What a tzaddik!! Shteiging away on a transatlantic flight! I salute myself!! I keep using exclamation points.


Sorry to disappoint. After just minutes I collapsed from exhaustion due to the lack of sleep I have been suffering from for the last ... 25 years. I did that for most of the flight. Sorry you can't use this story for my eulogy [I should live a long life - as should you]. ".... and then he slept and slept!!" Nothing to get excited about.

I had an interesting question I always ask myself. If you order one seat is it permitted to stretch out on two? I once read that when Rav Aharon Kotler would take the bus to and from Lakewood he refused to use the adjoining seat for himself because he hadn't paid.

I don't think you should learn halacha from stories. Maybe the story isn't true. Or maybe he was being strict with himself but it's really permitted. It's hard for me to believe that the bus company cares if the passengers spread out on an extra seat if it's not being used anyway. Same with the plane. So it would seemingly be permissible.

I haven't seen anything in the sefarim about it and if anyone has any sources I'd appreciate knowing about them.


Love and blessings sweet friends.

A Nike Ad From The 90's

"Life is not a spectator sport."

[See previous post.]


A quote I saw as someone's [A.C.E. which may or may not be my initials] status message:

“People of our time are losing the power of celebration. Instead of celebrating we seek to be amused or entertained. Celebration is an active state, an act of expressing reverence or appreciation. To be entertained is a passive state--it is to receive pleasure afforded by an amusing act or a spectacle.... Celebration is a confrontation, giving attention to the transcendent meaning of one's actions.

Ohhhhh boooy! Our society is sooooooo entertainment oriented and it's unfortunate. People are missing out on being active and creative. Sitting on a couch for 8 hours watching football may be pleasurable [especially Dolphins-Jets in Joe Robbie Stadium] but it doesn't give a person a sense of self-worth or accomplishment which the human being craves far more than watching a 38 yard field goal go left of the uprights.
The moment a person learns the value of time and the purpose of time, life becomes a far more rewarding and fulfilling experience.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Drop It!

Today I went to deliver the money many fine Jews had donated to the widow and her 12 children. Before I left, my wife asked me "Did you bring the gelt [i.e. money]?" [My wife and I converse in a combination of English, Modern Hebrew, Rabbinic Hebrew, Yiddish, Aramaic, Yeshivish and words I randomly make up that I hope she can figure out from context. "It made me zubbyshubbby!"] I also heard the word "Guilt".

NO!! I don't want to bring my guilt along. Enough already. Some people have and others - have it more. This pervasive sense of guilt, of "I've done something wrong". It is quite destructive and saps one of the vitality needed to be creative and constructive in our world. I walk around with memories of "sins" of commission or omission for days, months and years and frankly it robs me of the menuchas hanefesh for which I yearn. It doesn't consume me and thank G-d I have tremendous simchas chaim but we want shleimus - don't we?

After this exchange with my wife I decided to DROP IT. Just let myself be. No more guilt. Gelt - yes. Guilt - no. When I say shmoneh esrei I will feel guilty as I say סלח לנו but right after I finish the bracha I will feel that my slate is CLEAN! Hashem loves me and wants to forgive me.

You too....

Are you ready and willing to join me???
The 17 year old victim of the attack on Ozar Hatora has relapsed and is again in a coma.

Please recite tehillim perek 121 קכא.
His name is Bryan Aharon ben Lea.

יקריב מכם

אדם כי יקריב מכם קרבן להשם - When a person from among you brings a korban to Hashem.

It can also be read - When a person brings a sacrifice, from among you to Hashem. From yourself. מכם. One must sacrifice himself to Hashem.

Every time you overcome your natural innate desires in order to follow the will of Hashem it is a korban. Every time you want to say something you shouldn't and refrain from doing so, it is a ריח ניחוח - the most pleasing smell to Hashem.

Beloved friends - how very difficult it is to sacrifice your will, but doing so is what brings you close to Hashem. קרבן means קרב נו"ן. You get close to the 50th gate. The highest of high.

Love, blessings and tomid bi-simcha!

The Viznitzer Rebbe Ztz"l

Rabbi Shlomo Aviner:

A great Rabbi of the Nation of Israel has been taken from us: Ha-Admor of Viznitz, Ha-Gaon Ha-Rav Moshe Yehoshua Hagar. He is not just the Chasidic Rebbe of Viznitz, he is the Admor of all of us. Why? Because 99% of what he displayed self-sacrifice for during his lifetime is not particular to Viznitz, or even to Chasidut, but is Klal Yisraeli. There is no difference today between a Viznitz Chasid and another G-d-fearing Jew.

It is true that his Seudat Sheshilis was an experience full of passion, but passion is not something created by the Baal Shem Tov. Passion needs to be the possession of the entire Nation of Israel. Rabbi Yehudah Ha-Levi already wrote in the Kuzari (2:50) that one should not think that his joy and dancing and singing on Shabbat and Yom Tov is less important than fasting. And the Rambam, at the end of Hilchot Sukkah Ve-Lulav (8:15) says that joy in the service of Hashem is in and of itself service of Hashem. The Baal Shem Tov did not invent something new – rather, he reminded us of something that was forgotten. How much passion one should display has been disputed, but the passion of Ha-Admor of Viznitz was certainly proper for the entire Nation of Israel.

Besides being full of passion, Ha-Admor of Viznitz was also great in Torah learning. A great scholar, a great Masmid. He was particularly expert in the book Ketzot Ha-Choshen. Though not everyone has the ability to learn that sefer, everyone must learn Torah. Ha-Admor’s example is for all of us.

Ha-Admor also established many educational institutions: institutions for children and adolescents, Yeshivot, women's seminaries, and Kollels. Everyone must learn, teach and spread Torah. This too applies to all of us.

Ha-Admor of Viznitz was also very careful in "Shmiras Einayim". He established the Mehadrin buses (in which men and women sit separately). One should pay attention, by the way, to the word "Mehadrin": we are not obligated to observe such a stricture, but it is praiseworthy to do so. When a bus is relatively empty, there is no problem, but when it is packed with people, there is no place to look without seeing improper things. "Shmiras Einayim" is not a stricture, but a basic law. According to the Rambam, it is a Rabbinic obligation, and according to Rabbenu Yonah, it is a Torah obligation (see Beis Shmuel on Even Ha-Ezer, chapter 21). But according to all opinions, one must guard his eyes. And all of this has nothing to do with the Chasidut of Viznitz - it is Klal Yisraeli. Ha-Admor was personally very strict in this matter, and he is a worthy model for all of us.

Ha-Admor of Viznitz is also connected to all streams of Chasidic Jews. In addition to his son, Ha-Rav Yisrael Hagar, who is his successor as Chasidic Rebbe, and another son who is the Rosh Yeshiva in the Viznitz Yeshiva, he has one daughter who is the Rebbetzin of the Belzer Rebbe, a second daughter who is the Rebbetzin of the Skverer Rebbe and a third daughter who is the Rebbetzin of the Satmar Rebbe.

It is true that the custom in Viznitz is to wear white socks on Shabbat and to have the buttonhole on the right side of the hat. But one must not think that Viznitz Chasidut is a Chasidut of white socks and right-side buttonholes. This would be ridiculous. Chasidut Viznitz is about increasing passion, increasing Torah learning, increasing education and increasing modesty. And all of these things are Klal Yisraeli.
Ha-Admor of Viznitz is therefore the Admor of All of Us, and we must learn from his example.

May the soul of Ha-Admor ztz"l continue to be bound up in the bonds of the living with all of the righteous.


Dovid Hamelech said עומדות היו רגליך בשעריך ירושלים - Our legs stood at the gates of Yerushalayim.

Yerushalayim is SOOO holy that when a person arrives he can't just walk in. He is first frozen in his tracks and only then can he enter. First he stands and then he enters.

[Heard from Rav Baruch Simon in the name of the sefer "I Forgot Which". (Meaning he quoted the sefer but I forgot which..)]

Emunas Chachomim

Reb Zelig Shtitzberg was a legendary Gerer Chossid in Yerushalyim. One Shabbos morning his wife gave birth to a girl but the doctors informed them that the baby is not viable and will not live. He ran to his Rebbe the Heilige Beis Yisrael [Rebbe Yisrael Alter - Moro Vi-Rabo of Mori Vi-Rabi Shlita] to tell him the news and the Rebbe responded by bursting out with a big "mazel tov". Even though all he said was the standard bracha it didn't faze Reb Zelig. He walked out of the room with great joy and told everybody that he had a baby girl and sat down to enjoy the Shabbos morning kiddush.

It goes without saying that this girl is today a grandmother to many...

זכות הצדיקים יעזור ויגן ויושיע!

["ספר "כי אתה עמדי]

Tears Of Joy

The pasuk says בשמך יגילון כל היום - In Your Name they will rejoice all day long.

How utterly fascinating that the first letters of this pask can spell בכיה - crying. A person should feel such euphoric simcha in Hashem that it causes him to cry from joy.

[Rebbe Nachman]

Sweet friends - would you like to be in such a place? It takes work...

Yosef Chaim Yissochar ben Chaya Mushkit

An added named for Chaim Feigenbaum. Please daven.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

A Heartfelt Plea from Mrs. Chava (Eva) Sandler of Toulouse

My heart is broken. I am unable to speak. There are no ways for me to be able to express the great and all-consuming pain resulting from the murder of my dear husband Rabbi Jonathan and our sons, Aryeh and Gavriel, and of Miriam Monsonego, daughter of the dedicated principal of Ozar Hatorah and his wife, Rabbi Yaakov and Mrs. Monsonego.

May no one ever have to endure such pain and suffering.

Because so many of you, my cherished brothers and sisters in France and around the world, are asking what you can do on my behalf, on behalf of my daughter Liora and on behalf of the souls of my dear husband and children, I feel that, difficult though it may be, it is incumbent upon me to answer your entreaties.

My husband's life was dedicated to teaching Torah. We moved back to the country of his birth to help young people learn about the beauty of Torah. He was truly a good man, loving, giving, and selfless. He was sensitive to all of G‑d's creatures, always searching for ways to reveal the goodness in others.

He and I raised Aryeh and Gavriel to live the ways of Torah. Who would have known how short would be their time on this Earth, how short would be the time I would be with them as their mother?

I don't know how I and my husband's parents and sister will find the consolation and strength to carry on, but I know that the ways of G‑d are good, and He will reveal the path and give us the strength to continue. I know that their holy souls will remain with us forever, and I know that very soon the time will come when we will be together again with the coming of Moshiach.

I wholeheartedly believe in the words of the verse: "The L-ord has given, and the L-ord has taken away; blessed be the Name of the L-ord." I thank the Almighty for the privilege, short though it was, of raising my children together with my husband. Now the Almighty wants them back with Him.

To all those who wish to bring consolation to our family and contentment to the souls of the departed: Let's continue their lives on this Earth.

Parents, please kiss your children. Tell them how much you love them, and how dear it is to your heart that they be living examples of our Torah, imbued with the fear of Heaven and with love of their fellow man.

Please increase your study of Torah, whether on your own or with your family and friends. Help others who may find study difficult to achieve alone.

Please bring more light into the world by kindling the Sabbath candles this and every Friday night. (Please do so a bit earlier than the published times as a way to add holiness to our world.)

The holiday of Passover is approaching. Please invite another person into your homes so that all have a place at a Seder to celebrate the holiday of our freedom.

Along with our tearful remembrance of our trials in Egypt so many years ago, we still tell over how "in each and every generation, they have stood against us to destroy us." We all will announce in a loud and clear voice: "G‑d saves us from their hands."

The spirit of the Jewish people can never be extinguished; its connection with Torah and its commandments can never be destroyed.

May it be G‑d's will that from this moment on, we will all only know happiness.

I send my heartfelt condolences to the Monsonego family for the loss of their daughter Miriam, and I pray for the speedy recovery of Aharon ben Leah, who was injured in the attack.

Thank you for your support and love.


רחל בת חנה גיטא

Please keep davening for a refuah.

The Ravages Of A Stroke

Mitch Albom from The Detroit Free Press:

She is in there somewhere.

I can see her, behind her own eyes, which, after the strokes, always seem to be squinting. She grips the table and bites her lower lip. Often she looks away, as if observing an invisible fly.

"Back here," I say. "Back here, Mom."

She turns her head back, her body slumped in the wheelchair. At times she doesn't appear to hear me at all.

But now and then she makes eye contact and smiles, and when that happens, she comes alive in a cascade of memories.

My mother.

She is in there somewhere.

I know it. My father knows it. My brother and sister know it. We just want her to tell us. To confirm the fact. To blurt out in that wonderfully strong voice that used to holler down the street when it was time for dinner, "Yes, I hear you. I hear all of you. I hear everything -- including the jokes. I am who I always was. I just don't speak much anymore."

We hunger for those sentences.

We wait.

If you have elderly parents, or a loved one with any form of brain damage -- a stroke, a closed head injury -- if you have relatives who suffer from dementia, Alzheimer's, or any number of afflictions that rob you of who you used to be yet leave your body intact, then you know what I am talking about. The maddening tug between living and being "alive."

What kind of world is this for her, I ask? To be on the outside of all conversations? To be wheeled away from dinner tables she used to dominate? To be spoon-fed her meals at age 81? To have a bib as standard clothing?

"This is not who she is!" you want to scream to the heavens. "Restore her dignity! For mercy's sake, at least let her speak!"

After all, ours was always such a noisy relationship, filled with laughs and lectures and late-night bull sessions, united always by her greatest gift: communication.

We were talkers, our family. We didn't sit in silence. Who sat in silence? There was always food to be passed, opinions to be expressed, love and pride and gentle criticism to be lavished, and stories, so many stories, of our childhoods, of their marriage, of the old days in Brooklyn, this crazy uncle, this nutty aunt. Silence? Who sat in silence?

But now we sit in silence. We visit by holding hands, or squeezing a knee, or locking fingers, or kissing her white hair and saying we love her and melting when we see her try to form the words "I love you, too" -- voiceless, just a mouthing. We cling to it like gospel.

Stroke is the leading cause of serious, long-term disability in the U.S. Which means millions of people out there have experienced a suddenly-lesser version of themselves.

In my mother's case, it was gradual, small episodes, cerebral ischemias, followed by a bad fall, a severe "incident," then who knows how many more? Doctors are unclear on this stuff. "Could get worse. Might get better. Could reoccur. Might not." The brain, true to its design, mystifies.

So we sit and we visit and we talk in repeating, child-like ways -- "You hungry, Mom? You hungry? Hmm?" -- the way she once talked to us as infants, and we find the scariest part is not that our mother's voice is missing, but that the memory of it is beginning to fade.

I have not heard her speak in several years, not the way she used to. That timbre and optimism. It's gone. It's hard to conjure. It's been replaced by slow, coughing rasps, or a barely whispered "yes" or "no," as her head turns to look at that invisible fly.

You want a probe, a scope, some magical device that can weave through her brain and find her in some hidden cavern, smartly dressed, setting the table and blowing you a kiss.

"Hi, Mom," you want to say.

"Hi, sweetie," you want to hear.

She is in there somewhere, behind these squinting eyes and biting teeth. What was that game we used to play as kids? "Come out, come out, wherever you are"? But we are no longer kids, even if she is always our mother, and we miss her terribly, even as she sits right in front of us.


A fascinating story related by Rav Yitzchak Zilberstein Shlita: A young couple had met, liked each other and decided to get engaged. The girls father said "Not so fast, first I want a sample of his handwriting." The father was a graphologist. Graphology claims to be able to reveal everything about a person's character based on his or her handwriting.

The boy was NOT happy but in the end he relented because he saw that otherwise the girl wouldn't marry him. When the father saw the handwriting he was quite impressed. The handwriting analysis indicated that the boy had a gifted mind and exemplary character ["great middos" in the vernacular]. The father agreed to let the shidduch go through and a wedding was planned. Shortly before the wedding the boy started feeling very guilty. It turns out that he had submitted the handwriting of a different boy who was a masmid and tremendous baal middos. His question was is he obligated to reveal his trickery which would quite likely cause the wedding to be cancelled.

In will not tell you Rav Zilberstein's answer because לעניות דעתי it's PASHUT that he must tell, if not according to the strict letter of the law then certainly according to the standards of mussar and derech eretz.


Can we trust graphology? This brings me to my personal history. About 20 years ago I went to a graphologist and in MINUTES it was clear that this man knows me better than anybody else in the world. He saw it ALL! All from my messy handwriting. I was blown away.

Some time later I met a young lady whom I considered marrying. I took her to him and had her handwriting analyzed and once again - SPOT ON! I brought her to various Rabbanim for their "haskama" but what he saw they didn't see. [Note: I won't tell you if I married her but I will say that she is the mother of my children and is presently in the kitchen washing the Shabbos dishes under the assumption that I am working on the Shev Shmatsa. If she reads this she will know that I took a break to blog about graphology. Hope she still likes me. Anyway, we see that the graphologist gave a great report.]

Sixteen years or so later I was having issues with a child of mine and I brought in his handwriting to find out what was going on inside of him. Once again - a precise characterization. Punkt! [Exact in Spanish].

I found all three visits extremely helpful. Know thyself. Know thine Kallah. Know thine child. Three huge boosts in Avodas Hashem.

In my opinion graphology is one of the wonders of creation and should be used to our advantage. I actually considered studying it myself but there are SO MANY Rebbe Akiva Eigers I want to get to so I don't think it will happen.

It costs but it's worth it. Oh - and make sure the graphologist has a reputable name.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Hesped For Rav Scheinberg ztz"l

My favorite part was from the 45 minute mark. Thanks to Reb Yisrael for the "mareh makom".

The Rebbe's Limited Authority

The Mishna teaches עשה לך רב - everybody must make for themselves a Rebbe. Thank G-d many people follow this dictum. The Rebbe may be the Rav of the community or a Rebbe in Yeshiva or a local posek.

The problem is that many [most?] people draw a metaphorical line in the sand and say "until here I will follow your words but not beyond." Whether it pertains to personal matters or halachic issues people are not willing to completely commit themselves to following the Rebbe's words. If it is too inconvenient or difficult or uncomfortable to follow what he says, people find a different Rebbe - or no Rebbe at all. But if the Rebbe is the conduit of dvar Hashem it is difficult to justify ignoring his words just because it is tough to follow them.

Example: Rav Shach [and many others] decried the common practice that a boy not marry a girl unless promised an apartment and long term support. In his lifetime and after the practice continues despite the fact that many consider him their Rebbe.

I am a very small person and am not fitting to be anybody's Rebbe. When people ask me if someone is my talmid/a I will always deny it. Who do I think I am?? Despite this some people have considered me their Rebbe. But I never let it get to my head because I know that just about everybody will quickly jettison me if I become inconvenient. A "Fair-Weather-Rebbe" if you will. Everybody has their red lines where if the Rebbe crosses them they will no longer listen. Not because they believe that Hashem is on their side but because it is in their eyes too difficult to follow his dictates. My own policy is that I never impose my opinion on anybody but I am amused [not sure if that's the right description] by how people will profess allegiance to the Rebbe because he represents for them dvar Hashem but only as long as it fits with their general plans.

Am I being too harsh??

I don't know but that's the way I see it.

For me it's great. Keeps me humble....

Quote Of The Day

"Excuses are like kneecaps--everyone has them."

A friend who just emailed me in the name of his father.

Shiur From America

I was fortunate enough to speak seven times when I was in New York but this is the only shiur I recorded. I always feel that being there is so much better than hearing a recording. [Not that what I say is so good to start with, but for whatever it's worth, when my neshama is in the room there is a greater impression.]

Still, here it is....

No One Left

Pastor Martin Niemoller in response to the horrors of the Holocaust:

First they came for the Jews and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for the Communists and I did not speak out because I was not a Communist.
Then they came for the trade unionists and I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for me
and there was no one left to speak out for me.

copied from here

Wednesday, March 21, 2012


I would love to see you at my son Avi's Bar Mitzvah celebration on Tuesday ד' ניסן March 27th in the Old City of Jerusalem opposite Moriah bookstore next to the steps leading down to the kotel.

It starts at 4:00 pm. There will be food and much simcha which will only be enhanced by your presence.

May we always share smachot and all the better if it's in Yerushalayim Ir Hakodesh.

Please consider this a personal invitation. I love every one you, children of Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov!

Love and blessings!:-)


The Power Of Praise - Baseball Mitts

Wouldn't it be funny if the next President of the US would have the same name as a baseball glove?!

That was off the topic but just a thought I had...

And to our point....

There was once a man who could barely eke out a living. For years he struggled to meet his most basic expenses. After he passed away his home was repossessed and the new owners started renovating. Under the floor in the basement they found a number of chests with gold, silver and jewels worth tens of millions of dollars. Ayyyyyy yiiiiiii yiii! His life would have been sooooo much more enjoyable had he only known. He could have drilled, gotten the money and life would have been an absolute pleasure.

When someone receives praise what is happening is that the person is learning what "treasures" he possesses which enable him to live a more fulfilling life. Our special qualities are what enable us to fulfill our purpose in this world and to feel accomplished, successful and self-actualized. Most people [all people?] don't fully appreciate their "gems" and they therefore never really become what they are capable of becoming.

There are many ways to show love. Interestingly, when the Rambam [deyos 6/3] codifies the mitzva to love your fellow Jew one of the examples he gives is יספר בשבחו - he praises his friend. That is one of the greatest expressions of love because love means facilitating the spiritual growth of the beloved. By praising someone else you are doing this.

I also believe that you shouldn't wait for other people. Praise yourself [verbally!] and start appreciating what unique gifts you have been endowed with in order to bring more good to this world.

Criticizing or belittling others makes them feel that they are bad people. The result is that they don't accomplish what they should because they don't think they have it in them.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012


We all know of the custom to celebrate the Shabbos before a wedding that is called by Ashkenazim "aufruff". Now that is a funny name. Reminds me of something a dog might say.

The custom in these parts is that the chosson's friends all get together and throughout Shabbos exchange many high fives and hugs. At meals they rise in turn and tell funny stories about the chosson from their childhood. I am usually asked to speak because the chosson wants to give me kavod and make me feel good. Problem is, I have no funny stories to tell about him. I never went to school or camp with him and our relationship usually revolved around learning. Not so much "funny" stuff going on in the beis medrash. So I am tempted to collect all the funny stories and tell them at different aufruffs about other chassanim - but that would be less than honest.... Plus they'd catch me "So I remember at Morasha, one summer late at night, the chosson and I cut the ropes off all the boats in order to let them loose and they floated to the middle of the lake. I then quickly disappeared, called the division head and the chosson was standing there and caught red-handed. He was kicked out of camp. I was promoted for telling on him." Laughs. Someone whispers - "Hey Ehrman, the chosson never went to Morasha." Woops.

What is the purpose of telling all these stories?

First of all, there is value in laughing. It is therapeutic.

Second, it gives the chosson a sense of perspective as to how far he has come. He used to be an immature little kid and now he is a ben torah about to build a holy home with a bas torah. He is no longer a high school hockey star but a serious, spiritually motivated seeker of what is eternal. Knowing how much you have grown is a boon to further growth.

Before the Jews entered the land of Israel, Moshe Rabbeinu gave a long mussar shmooze reminding the Jews of their misbehavior in the desert. It wasn't a particularly funny speech but it did give the Jews a sense of perspective of where they were and what they must become.

At my aufruff I had no childhood friends as it took place in Israel and I grew up in New York. So I missed having a comical perspective on how far I had come. But I had it with the Rebbe Shlita. He once called me up at a tisch to sit next to him. I couldn't refuse. So there I am at the head table next to the Rebbe Shlita and I'm thinking something like "Ally Ehrman, Camp Lavi color war general [summer of '87 if I recall], backup MTA point guard [very backup...], rabid Mets fan, follower of the Cosby Show, unsuccessful student [my mother won't let me tell how bad..], barely a friend in the world [maybe that's another reason I had none at my aufruff], with posters of "gedoilim" such as Bernard King and Jesse Orosco in his bedroom, pool player in Miami Beach on Pesach, etc. etc. now sitting next to the holiest man on G-d's green earth." To quote an old advertisement "You've come a long way baby."

So that was sort of like an aufruff speech [without the funny stories]. But here's the kicker [this is going to be painful for me but I am going to write it anyway]. I say to myself "Have you really come far?? Maybe the Rebbe called you up for the same reason the boys ask you to speak at their aufruffs - to give you kavod and to make you feel good. But you are really a zero." That being the case - I must GET TO WORK. Sweet friends - I have to return to Hashem and become a true, sincere Jew. This is not to bring me to melancholy, G-d forbid. This is to elevate me from the mud in which I am mired. I will then be clean and pure.

I like that idea.

Clean and pure.

I hope you'll help me....

What I Love About ...

What I love about caller id - I know who is trying to avoid me.

What I love about my "non-wrinkle" shirts that I have been washing [in my pseudo-bachelor existence the last week] - they wrinkle more than a 135 year old great great grandmother.

What I love about riding the New York subways - getting out alive. Some scary dudes out there.

What I love about all the hustle bustle in the City - it reminds me of how fortunate I am that my chelek is in the Beis Medrash.

What I love about learning Torah - it NEVER gets boring and there are always new layers of meaning to discover.

What I love about life - that if one chooses to love, life is bliss.

הכל בחביבותא תליא - It all depends on love. Zohar Hakadosh

חיה אסתר בת פייגע יענטע - רפואה שלימה


Quote Of The Day

Oyyyyy Raboysai!! This one made me laugh out loud.

Instead of getting married again, I'm going to find a woman I don't
like and give her a house.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Don't Let It Spread

People are advised to go for routine checkups to make sure nothing is wrong in their bodies. If something is found in its earlier stages it is much easier to treat than after it has developed more fully. A localized cancer is much easier to treat than it is after it has spread, chas vichalila.

Is this a medicine blog? That would be silly as I know nothing about medicine and almost never take any on principle.

This is an Avodas Hashem blog and that was a mashal.

The nimshal is - if one is in a marriage and there are small but "malignant" problems, if not treated swiftly they will develop into full-blown problems and by then it will be too late. Most couples [says John Gottman] go to therapy approximately 6 years too late.

The person to whom this post is intended knows who he is. Please pay heed!


Aish Kodesh in Woodmere at 1:45-2:30 today [Tuesday].

הכרת הטוב

I thank everyone on both sides of the Heights for the tremendous turnout. I am so small and can't believe so many people came to hear me so I have decided that you came to make me feel good.

It worked.

Thank you!!

חיה אסתר בת פייגא יענטע

Young mother of four needs רחמי שמים מרובים.

Judaism And Psychology

Dr. Morris Mandel from the Jewish Press.

Many times I have been asked if there was a conflict between religious principles and psychotherapy; if religion and psychiatry were at odds. It was always my belief that if one did enough research he would find accepted psychiatric beliefs in the writings of our great rabbis and scholars.

Alfred Adler, one of the disciples of Freud, in many of his writings, stated that happiness depended on satisfactory conditions in three areas of life, Society, Sustenance and intimacy. It was his clinical opinion that the neurotic could be diagnosed from his failures in these three areas. He felt that an individual must be social minded, must be aware of the people around him and must want to mix and be part of a growing community. The person who withdrew from human relations was the one who was on his way to mental and emotional failure. Let us read what this great psychoanalyst had to say about “The Social Feeling.” In Understanding Human Nature, Adler writes, “We may now understand that any rules that serve to secure the existence of mankind such as legal codes and education, must be governed by the concept of the community and be appropriate to it We can judge a character as bad or good only from the standpoint of society. The criteria by which we can measure an individual are determined by his value to mankind in general. We compare an individual with the ideal picture of a fellowman, a man who overcomes the tasks and difficulties which lie before him, in a way which is useful to society in general, a man who has developed his social feeling to a high degree. He is the one who plays the game of life according to the laws of society. In the course of our demonstrations it will become increasingly evident that no adequate man can grow up without cultivating a deep sense of fellowship in humanity and practicing the art of being a human being.”

Our own sacred writings are just full of good, practical psychiatric advice along the same lines. What psychiatrists and psychologists are now discovering has been uttered hundreds, if not thousands of years ago. “Man was not intended to live alone, but as a member of society” is advice that can be read almost anywhere in our writings. Ample illustrations are offered by our rabbis as to just what this rule entails. “A person is a unit in the body of humanity,” they claim, “and this fact creates many duties for him with respect to his relationship with his fellowman. His life is not his own to do with as he pleases. His conduct affects his neighbors as their conduct affects him.” It is like a company of men on board a ship. One of them took a drill and began to bore a hole under him. The other passengers were worried. One said to him, “What are you doing!” He replied, “What has that to do with you? Am I not making the hole under my seat!” “Yes”, they retorted, “but the water will enter and drown us all.”

“An isolated life is not worth living”, advised Choni the Circledrawer (HaMa’agel). Since the life of a man has grown more complex man’s requirements are so many that he must realize how much of his comfort he owes to the toil of others. In Ecclesiastes 9 the advice is given “Two are better than one.” “Separate not yourself from the community” (Avos 2:5) was the advice of Hillel. Cooperation and mutual assistance are essential factors in life, as a proverb tells: “If you will lift the load I will lift it too; but if you will not lift it, I will not.” The ethical wills of some of greatest rabbis contain a wealth of good advice as to how an individual can be social minded. In 1544, R. Eleazar the Great published a work which he called Paths Of Life. Part of it might be called an ethical will. It advises a son, believed to be Tobiah son of Eleazar, a contemporary of Rashi, along social lines. The advice might very well be a listing prepared by a psychologist as to examples of social mindedness. He states, among many other items, the following: "My son!! Take heed to hold constant intercourse with the wise. Rely not on thine opinion. Be zealous in visiting the sick, for sympathy lightens pain. Bear thy part regularly in the burial of the dead, delivering them into the hand of their maker. Comfort mourners, and speak to their heart.

Join in bringing the bride to the canopy, help to gladden the bridegroom. Show honor to the poor, and draw out thy soul unto him. Crush not the poor with harsh words. Stop not thine ears at the cry of the poor, for he who is deaf to the appeal of others, when he crieth shall himself obtain no answer. Make not thyself too much feared in thine home. Love the wise and attach thyself to them. Walk not alone, judge not alone, nor be witness and judge at the same time.” It seems that our scholars laid down some basic rules as to social living which we could do well in following. We ought to remember that knowledge without common sense is folly; without method it is waste; without kindness it is fanaticism; without religion it is death. But with common sense, it is wisdom; with method it is power; with character it is beneficence; with religion it is virtue, life and peace."


When I was looking to get married there were no such things as shidduch resumes. Things have changed and today having a resume seems standard procedure. Some people send me these resumes to ask what I think about the person.

So I will tell you what I think. I think that resumes tell you ALMOST nothing about the person. A person is a neshama. What does knowing that she is studying speech therapy and that her mother is the mikvah lady tell you about this girl's neshama?


The boy learns in Yeshivas Toras Boris. He also has an accounting degree. What do you know about him?

Ditto, nothing. [Except maybe that he is Russian and good with numbers....]

Just some superficial information that have no impact on his ability to be a good husband.

So I am not saying we should do away with resumes. This superficial information is a good start. If he is a really frum boy from Flatbush learning in Torah Va'daas, knowing that she is a Talmudic fellow at Drisha who aspires to the Rabbinate might be an indicator that they are not compatible.

But let us not reduce people to a few empty words on a piece of paper.

It's an insult to the neshama.


Tonight after 10:00 pm maariv on the third floor of Glueck Hall. The topic will be "Torah Perspectives In Choosing A Profession".

The Geography Of Redemption

לרפואת חיים יששכר בן חי' מושקיט - נא להתפלל עליו
A well known secular Israeli writer was recently interviewed and he said that Jews living outside of Israel are "partial Jews" while he who lives in the land is a "complete Jew".
I will preface by saying that I [who lives in Israel] am a partial Jew. I am not careful enough about lashon hara, my knowledge of Torah is sorely lacking and my tefillos also leave much to be desired. [That is a very partial list...]
The honorable gentelman who made this statement might or might not be aware of the famous statement of Rav Saadia Gaon "אין אומתנו אומה אלא בתורתיה" - we are only a nation by virtue of our Torah. Hence, ignoring most of the mitzvos of the Torah makes his own Judaism suspect. Of course if his mother is Jewish he is a full fledged Jew but he could definitely become a more complete Jew if, for example, he started keeping Shabbos.
As far as what he said about living in Israel - of course living in Israel is tremendous. That is why I dream of living there. Not only that - usually when I dream I am actually there [except for last night where I didn't have time to dream because I barely slept. How could I sleep? Moshe Gavriel and Rochel Leah are MARRIED! MAZEEEELLL TOOOV!].
However, the Ramban says that Shemos is the Sefer Hageulah. Redemption? We weren't redeemed in Sefer Shemos. We were still in the desert [one more "s" in the word and deeelicious!!]? The answer is that we built the mishkan and Hashem dwelt in our tent. Meaning that having the presence of Hashem IS the geulah, regardless of your geographical location.
So the redemption can really take place at any minute of any day, any time. All one has to do is be focused on Hashem Yisborach and if you are zocheh, Hashem will dwell upon you at that moment.
The Chazon Ish once saw a very holy person whom he didn't recognize at a funeral. He was blown away by his holiness. "The shechina is dwelling upon that man. Who is he??" He was told that his name is Rabbi Dov Berish Veidenfeld, known as the Chebiner Rov, who was indeed a holy man. He asked if he has written any sefarim and was given the Dovev Meisharim, the Teshuva sefer that Rav Veidenfeld had written. He fell in love with the sefer and from that time he often had it on his table.
A similar story is told about the Chofetz Chaim. He once saw the Belzer Rebbe at a rabbinic convention. "Who is that man? The shechina dwells on his head!" He was told that is was the Belzer Rebbe but that he shouldn't be impressed because he is not careful about sof zman krias shema. "But still", said the Chofetz Chaim, "the shechina dwells on him."
We see that a person [even in chutz la'aretz] can have Hashem dwell upon him no matter where he is. So at this moment we can start our redemption process by trying to connect to the Source of All - מלך מלכי המלכים הקדוש ברוך הוא.
Love and blessings!

Unconditional Love

Rabbi Shlomo Aviner:

A mother came to me: "Our 16 year-old son acts irresponsibly. He ran away from home."

I asked her: "Are the lines of communication open between you and your son? Can he speaking freely with you?"

"No, he is mad at me."

"Can he communicate with your husband?"

"Also no."

"Is there someone in the family, he trusts?"


"Perhaps an uncle, a grandparent?"


"A neighbor?"


"A teacher?"

"No.""A Rabbi?"


"If so, he is alone. He is lost."

In our huge world, a person must have at least two people who love him unconditionally. If the love is conditional, he feels threatened. It is impossible to say to a child: "Look, I love you today because you acted so nicely."

This is not true love. We must love him even if he does not act nicely. If he acts properly, we should certainly express our love and respect, but this is in addition to the unconditional love we must convey to him. Before all else, there must be this foundation: We love you in every situation. Even if he returns from school and he was rude to all the teachers, ripped the other students clothing and broke windows and tables – it does not matter, we must love him!

Expressions Of Love

Rabbi Shlomo Aviner

Expressing love to a child is truly life saving. If a child does not feel that others love him – he is finished.We have to remember that a child's world is like a jungle. All sorts of people cause him distress and disturb his contentment.He is surrounded by friends in school, the park, home, etc., and they bother him at times, and sometimes take from him, or he feels that they are taking from him. The teacher scolds him, the neighbor yells at him. Often times close relatives visit and volunteer to educate him: "Where are your manners? A little honor for your parents! Sit up straight! Look at how you are eating! Why don't you study well? What type of grades are these?!" A huge flood of comments.

And relationships with siblings are not simple. He loves them, but they sometimes threaten to take his place. He is not alone – he has competition.In brief – a child lives in a jungle. This can be difficult. But in this dangerous world, there is a wonder drug: Love and expressions of love. Offer them generously.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Speaking of messing up [previous post] - I think I just did big time.

I love the interplay between my life and the blog.....




Shiur for women at 50 overlook terrace, apartment 2f Monday at 8:30 pm. Thank you Ariella for hosting!!!!

Topic: "Finding Your Place In The World"

[Afterwards there should be something at YU אם ירצה השם. Thank you Sy Syms for hosting!!]

Saturday, March 17, 2012

A Ray Of Mussar

I have a terrible tendency to replay events in my mind and torment myself for not doing or saying the right thing. It could be the most innocuous things. I felt that I didn't thank someone effusively enough or that I didn't smile when I saw someone or that I didn't express enough empathy or sensitivity or care [even though I felt it in my heart]. "Terrible" things like that. Sometimes the feelings continue for years and something will trigger the memory and I will once again feel badly. Or maybe somebody asked me for a favor and I said no and even though they looong ago forgot about it - I feel rotten. Every shiur is an opportunity for me to relentlessly pound myself afterwards for things I said and shouldn't have or things I didn't say but should have. Recently somebody did ME a big favor and every interaction I have with him I feel sooooo guilty because I could have once done something for him and I didn't [because I was dependent on someone else who wasn't willing to help]. Of course, I feel even worse when I actually did something wrong.

I know this isn't healthy and it is also clear to me why I have these destructive feelings but they are HARD to shake.

This past Friday I was going to use public transportation to arrive at my Shabbos destination. A VERY good friend contacted me and offered a ride. I gladly accepted and he said that departure would be at 4:00pm right outside my building.

I told myself "Al! Don't be late. He is doing you a favor." GRRREEAAT.

At 10:00am I took the subway to the Vorhand shul uptown for a pre-shabbos dip in mikva [where I was joined by a CUTE rubber ducky, wearing sunglasses]. Then I went to the kosher supermarket to pick up some food. [Nechi - if you are reading this, PLEASE save me. I can't take being wifeless anymore. I have to go food shopping in supermarkets! This is too much for me. I also wanted to buy my host's a gift as a SMALL token of my appreciation but I didn't know what was appropriate. See paragraph 1.] I get home and it's 12:00pm. I have 4 hours!!! Plenty of time.

So I learned a little and then made a few "short" phone calls. Why does a short phone call last over an hour?? [One person reading this knows about the phone call and to you I say HELLO!] Oy me!!! Well, it gets closer and closer and I hurriedly packed and to make a long story longer I leave the apartment two or three minutes late. OOYYYYY did I feel rotten. How can I have repayed him "evil" in return for his kindness. [My psychologist (i.e. me) interjects "This borders on the pathological. Completely out of proportion."]

I press the elevator button and up comes Ray, the black elevator man, a very cheery, upbeat, optimistic sort. [He also seems to have an uncanny memory for people who were in his elevator many moons ago for 30 seconds.] I told him what happened and how distressed I feel.

He said something so true I hope I can engrave it on my soul. It went something like this. "Don't worry about it. After you say 'hello, how are you doing' and two minutes pass it will be forgotten" and he smiled.

THAT is the secret!! Don't worry about it! Don't torture yourself for such minor infractions. You cause yourself many times more anguish than you made him feel. Don't walk around for years with guilty feeling for things about which the offended party [if there even was one] has long forgotten. Of course you should have tried to be on time but KEEP THINGS IN PERSPECTIVE. We are all human.

If you actually did something wrong or bad - it's not the end of the world either. Say sorry and continue serving Hashem bi'simcha. These feelings just sap your energy and distract you from what you must accomplish in your limited time on earth.

I really hope this post helped somebody [besides making all the people who know Ray laugh]. It sure helped me...

Indeed a "Ray" of mussar.

Blessings to all.....

[To those who came tonight - this was the story I promised and I thank you for coming:-)]

Friday, March 16, 2012


Woman's shiur this מוצאי שבת at 385 church ave cedarhurst at the Levine's at approximately 8:30 [although maybe a few minutes later. Once I get into Shabbos it's hard to get me out....].

I thank Aliza and her family for hosting and organizing.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Out Of Love

When a person gets צרעת he is halachically not considered impure until the Kohen pronounces him so. Why is that?

A Kohen is commanded to bless the Jews באהבה. The Kohen embodies love for fellow Jews. Only such a person can call another person "tamei". Before you criticize - ask yourself if you are saying it out of love.

Then - don't say anything. Don't worry about it, in all likelihood this person is being criticized enough. Once you have mastered not criticizing - then you can start criticizing on rare occasions out of total love.

[Based in part on the Lubavitcher Rebbe]

Quote Of The Day

"Public opinion is no more than this: what people think that other people think."

The Elephant In The Room Nobody Is Talking About

Sweetest friends - this is not an expose. EVERYBODY knows and yet it seems that so little is being done. I am referring to the heavy amount of drug use among our youth. "Youth" unfortunately continues into the 20's - and beyond. All the years I was involved in chinuch I heard countless stories of drug use among Orthodox kids. It is EVERYWHERE.

I don't think that drug use is rampant among religious girls but the boys - OY VEY. Terrible. Is anybody doing anything about it? Do parents know?? Do teachers know? Does a Rebbe know that he is teaching a tosaphos to pot-heads and maybe instead of shittas rabbeinu tam they should be focusing on cleaning up their act. Torah and avodas Hashem with drugs is not Torah and avodas Hashem. Many mechanchim and parents JUST DON'T GET IT. Some people are up their elevated perch and they don't realize that the people whom they should be influencing are in a completely different stratosphere.

These people get married and often continue their drug use and abuse. NOT a good recipe for fulfilled married life. I know of a shteibel where [a number years ago] I was told by a reliable source that the COUPLES get together during the week to smoke pot. [For the record this is a gartel and sheitel wearing type shteibel]. This is of course the PERFECT opening for the worst sins which would ultimately precipitate [I don't think I have ever used that word before so שהחיינו] a divorce. והמבין יבין.

I would love to share more but I am very careful not to incriminate individual people or institutions.

Hockey Takes On New Meaning

I saw him in the elevator yesterday. I said "Hey, how are the Rangers doing?" He flashed a big smile and said "They are in first place." We then spoke about how they might win the championship and I displayed some bekius by mentioning that the last time they took home the Stanley was 1994. He assured me that of course he was there when it happened.

You know sweet friends - I am not a sports fan anymore. I have moved on in life to a place where games don't interest me anymore.

But if it makes my poor, unfortunate friend happy that the Rangers are doing well, I can only add two words from the depths of my soul.


Don't Even Bother

Famous story I've been thinking about a lot recently.

Someone is walking along the beach and sees hundreds of starfish that have been washed ashore. As he is walking, he sees a child picking one of them up and throwing it back into the water.

The adult says to the child, " Why are you doing this? There are hundreds of starfish on the beach. What difference does this make?”

The child replies, “It makes a difference to that one.”

The truth is that we would like to help everybody: Every orphan, every widow, every sick person, every sad or lonely person etc. etc. but we will never succeed. Too many needy people out there. So why bother, right?

The answer is that we must sometimes think small. Just help ONE person. Then another ONE. The initial attitude is that you want to change the whole world but when it comes to myseh, the only way to live is to think about individuals and help person after person. After 120 years of this you will have left the world a much better place than you found it when you arrived.

Isn't that why we are here??

You can start...... now:-).

Quote Of The Day

No one has yet realized the wealth of sympathy, the kindness and
generosity hidden in the soul of a child. The effort of every true education
should be to unlock that treasure.

[Read the sefer Chovas Hatalmidim for more...]

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

שערי דמעות לא ננעלו - The Gates Of Tears Are Never Locked

חיים יוסף מאיר בן הענא - boy from Lakewood hit in the head with a baseball bat.

בנימין דוד בן יהודית גיטל

משה אברהם בן אלכסנדרה סימון - baby in hospital.

Getting A Spiritual High On A Plane

A plane ride is a time of spiritual elevation. I mean, you are mamesh mamesh in the clouds. In shomayim! Thankfully, you get to come down [as opposed to those who go to shomayim and don't return...].

Example - davening. On my latest trip I brought along a sefer called Shearis Yosef [Vol. 7] and lo and behold he has an article about minyanim on airplanes. He is opposed to the practice. So were Rav Shlomo Zalman, Rav Ovadiah Yosef, Rav Soloveitchik and many other luminaries. One may not conduct a public tefilla if it will disturb the sleep of others. What a great tefilla - no tefilla bi'tzibbur so as not to wake others. A bein adam lachaveiro'dike tefila! So you daven privately and wonder of wonders - nowhere to go!! People always seemed so rushed to get somewhere but on a plane it's either your seat or the restroom. Neither of them particularly exciting. So you can just daven and daven. You don't have to keep pace with anybody else [i.e. skip in order to keep up]. Ah mechaye.

Learning - You can learn and learn without interruption [unless they come around with those "facial tissues" which for the record I never take]. No telephone, no cell phone, no internet. Pure learning.

סור מרע: You can eschew the various forms of entertainment that are so deletorious to the soul. You can also eschew chewing gum but that's besides the point. [If you think I wrote this post just so that I can use the word "eschew" you may have a point..]

Teshuva - You can think "Large metal bin 35,000 feet above the Atlantic. Never met the pilot. May he is a druggie and we are goin' down". This will prompt you to do QUICK TESHUVA!

Abolishing The Evil Decrees

A Torah from the Holy Noam Elimelech on his yahrtzeit:

And to a cubit finish it from above.
(Bereishis 6:16)

The Gemara in Shabbos (119b) says: “He who prays reciting the verse
‘Vayechulu...’ regarding the completion of the world’s creation with Shabbos
becomes a partner with Hashem in the act of creation, as it says, ‘Vayechulu...
— And Heaven and Earth were completed’ (Bereishis 2:1) — do not
read ‘vayechulu,’ completed, but rather read it as ‘vayichlu,’ they finished it
together [meaning to say that Hashem and man finished it together].”

This can be explained as referring to the Tzaddik, who nullifies harsh decrees
and judgments by elevating them back to their source, thereby sweetening

[The source of everything is ultimately Hashem and His divine attributes.
Hashem is absolute good and mercy, so all decrees and judgments — even
those perceived as evil — are rooted in sources of holiness and good, as it says,
“All bitter things have sweet roots” (Ramak, Tomer Devorah, ch. 4). So, for
example, love of money and lust has an original source in love of good and love
of the divine. When a person overcomes his urges and desires and uses them for
a higher purpose, such as diverting those desires to love of Torah and Hashem,
he is elevating these attributes and returning them to their source. A decree is
also “sweetened” in this way.]

Thus, “one who prays reciting the verse ‘Vayechulu...’ ” refers to the Tzaddik
who prays to end and nullify the harsh decrees and judgments. [In Hebrew,
the word לכלות , “to end,” is spelled with the letters of the word [.ויכלו
In this way he becomes a partner with Hashem: G-d decrees and the Tzaddik
abolishes the decree, as it says: “Do not read ‘vayechulu,’ completed, but
rather read it as ‘vayichlu,’ they ended or were nullified.” The harsh decrees
and judgments are nullified by the Tzaddik who elevates them to the heavens,
back to their source in holiness.

Thus it says, “Make a tzohar for the teivah” — cause the words of your
prayers to sparkle with brilliance like the luster of a precious stone in order
to abolish the verdicts and decrees that have been pronounced against the
Jewish people. How can these judgments be eliminated? The Torah says:
“To a cubit finish it from above.” The word for “cubit,” אמה , also connotes ,אם
“mother.” Divine mercy is symbolized by the merciful mother bird hovering
above its young protecting them from all harm. Therefore, through divine mercy,
“techalenah” — finish it. End the decrees with the mercy of the divine mother
by elevating them back to their source above.

[We therefore read the verse “V’el amah techalenah milema’alah — To a cubit
finish it from above” as “Through the divine mercy of the mother we end and
abolish (the decrees) by elevating them to their source in holiness.”]

[From the sefer Mi'pninei Hanoam Elimelech]

How To Treat An Orphan

One of the many touching stories told about the late, great Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, zatzal, deals with the mystery surrounding the reason why this Torah giant was in Tel Aviv, away from the sacred Jerusalem where he was born and lived all his life.

It was on the occasion of the wedding of his nephew, an orphan from both parents, who became his charge. Rabbi Auerbach led him to the chuppa which took place in Tel Aviv and stayed overnight in that city. The nephew, who later became the rabbi of the Ramat Chen community in Tel Aviv, did not understand why his uncle did this very uncharacteristic thing until the day that he himself arranged a wedding for an orphaned chatan.

"I hope you will conduct yourself with this orphaned chatan as I did with you," cautioned his uncle.

When the nephew failed to comprehend the hint, his uncle explained. A chatan and a kalla receive many beautiful gifts at their wedding, and one of their happiest moments is when they can show off the gifts to their parents. Since the orphaned chatan had no parents to whom he could show those gifts, his uncle, with the proper sensitivity of a great Torah scholar, stayed overnight so that he could provide the newly married couple with this special simcha.

Checking The Ingredients

One day in the car after delivering his shiur in Yeshivas Kol Torah, Rav Shlomo Zalman Auurbach [whose yahrtzeit was today] asked the driver to pull over in front of a kiosk where he went out to buy a candy bar to cheer up a child whom he was on his way to visit in the hospital.

After buying the candy, on the way back to the car, Rav Shlomo Zalman started to examine the candy bar and turn it over from side to side. The person accompanying Rav Shlomo Zalman assured him that he has no need to worry since he knew that this candy bar had a very good Hechsher. "I wasn't looking at the Hechsher", said Rav Shlomo Zalman. "I was checking if the candy was good!" (Aleihu Lo Yibol YD 143 -

Rough Day

A true story I read:

I was sitting in the middle of the subway car when the car door opened and in walked a beggar on crutches holding a tin cup. I didn't want to have to deal with this beggar. Is he really poor or just crazy?

Unconsciously, I, like most of the passengers, tried to make ourselves as invisible as possible.

Sure enough, the beggar was very unsuccessful.

Then the weirdest thing happened. From the other side of the car came in another beggar and he too was on crutches. Somehow this made me feel better because I thought this is a beggar-on-crutches scam team.

As they met in front of my seat, they stared at each other. One said to the other, "Rough day, huh?"

"Yeah, rough day," the other replied.

Then the first beggar took a coin out of his cup and put it into the cup of the other beggar and he continued through the car.

Many people think that the opposite of believing in God is atheism but Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach taught that the opposite of believing in God is being a miser. This means there is nothing further from God and spirituality than the inability or unwillingness to give.


One Saturday night several years ago, Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach, z"l, came out of his shul on New York's Upper West Side and was approached by a black man, asking for a donation.

"I'm so sorry, brother," Reb Shlomo said to the man. "My Sabbath just ended and I don't carry money on the Sabbath. It seems that I can't help you tonight."

"You already helped me," replied the man to Reb Shlomo. "You called me brother."
For all those to whom I gave my telephone number - it has been changed to 917-913-4416.

No Admission Fee

Women's shiur tonight at 9:oopm.

115 central park west 71st Street apt. 9b.

I don't know if the Torah will be good but you can't beat the price:-).

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Seat Mates - Frummer Than Rav Shlomo Zalman - Things Chazal Didn't Say

I get on the plane and I have an aisle seat but next to a young American college girl on Birthright. Since I tend to fall asleep on transatlantic flights [and during boring speeches:-)] and really didn't want myself to end up finding my head on her shoulder, I decided to find another seat. But I remember that when a woman sat next to Rav Shlomo Zalman on a bus he didn't get up because he didn't want to offend her. Am I frummer than Rav Shlomo Zalman??

Apparently, because I smiled and apologized to her, told her it was nothing personal, offered to financially reimburse her for any anguish caused and switched seats. She assured me that no offense was taken.

I am really NOT frummer than Rav Shlomo Zalman. I just don't think you learn halacha from stories.

The only person upset by the whole thing was the stewardess. She got really annoyed. But as Chazal don't say "Better annoy a stewardess with your chonyokishkeit - than end up snoring on the shoulder of a female student at Yale."

Here Again - Like My Family - Luck - Shmutz

Well, I am back in N.Y. I have been here more this year than any year since I was fifteen years old. To give you an idea how long ago that was, when I was 15 there were no fax machines, no cellphones, no internet and in all likelihood - no you.

So why have I been here so much? I can give numerous answers but I will share with you what I believe is the best one.

That it is the will of Hashem. Period. [I wrote a period after the word "Hashem" so writing "period" is redundant - no? But I am SOOOOO tired now I can write anything.... slkjng sldfbh alifrai ldiuhg.]

If I didn't like my wife, if I didn't like my children, if I didn't like learning, then these trips would be GREAT. No family and lots of bitul Torah. Problem is, I quite like my wife, children and learning. But I am here for a reason. So now I am publicly going to rip into myself with a little mussar: ACCEPT THAT WHATEVER SITUATION YOU ARE IN IS THE IDEAL WAY TO CONNECT TO G-D AT THAT SECOND AND STOP THINKING THAT YOU'D BE A BETTER JEW ELSEWHERE. AND THANK HASHEM YOU ALWAYS COME FOR GOOD THINGS AND NOT CHAS VICHALILA TO SAMPLE VARIOUS HOSPITALS לא עלינו. AND LOOK AT THE PAVEMENT WHEN YOU WALK DOWN THE STREET SO YOU DON'T HAVE TO SEE ALL OF THE SHMUTZY SHMUTZ YOU HAVE ALREADY SEEN TODAY - JUST TRYING TO HAIL A CAB. [I would tell you what I saw but this blog is a virtual beis medrash...]