Sunday, March 31, 2013

Maamar for shvii shel pesach here.
"Your neighbor's vision is as true for him as your own vision is true for you."

Chazal say that the sea made a separate path for each tribe. Everybody has their own path...:)

Friday, March 29, 2013

Torah on Shir Hashirim and on Pesach, here.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

This MAY surprise you but I did NOT travel to Miami this Pesach:). HOWEVER, I took a short virtual visit there. Please join me, here.

What can I say, Raboisai, there IS hope and there IS only One Hashem:):).

Love, blessings and a gut moed to all.

And to my "kaddish'l", the holy Shmuel Alexander, a freilichin 16th b-day. That means that the Baal Ha-blog has a sixteen year old and a seventeen year old. He [meaning me] is OOLLLDDDDD.  BARUCH SHE-HECHEEYANU VI-KIYIMANU VI-HIGIYANU LA-ZMAN HA-ZEH!!

Monday, March 25, 2013

A beautiful chag to one and all:):)!!


R' Shlomo Carlebach

Reb Nachman talks about some thing called Noam Elyon, a kind of holy sweetness which flows down from Heaven. This sweetness is so whole, that if your mind isn't whole, and if your emotions aren't whole then you can't taste it. You don't have the plate in whch G-d can give you the taste of holy sweetness. Matza is the simplest bread in the world, just flour and water. No salt, no pepper. Reb Nachman says that on Yom Tov the Noam Elyon flows from Heaven in simplicity. If you are not whole you cannot receive it. The matza we eat gives over to us its simplicity, wholeness. Matza tastes so good because it is a piece of the sweetness of Noam Elyon.

What makes us so perverted? We put so much work into our little piece of bread. What do people do for the few dollars they make? They put their whole heart and soul into it, and each time they do, they become more and more slaves. The matza we eat on Pesach doesn't take much time to make. We put the least amount of time into our food, and the rest of the time we have is for doing great things, to be free.

When you eat the matza you really have to be with it, you can't talk or joke. The piece has to be really big, and you sit and mamash eat matza. The holy Sanzer would sit after the seder, and put his hands on his stomach, and say "Ay! Tonight my stomach did so many mitzvos!"

The afikomen, the last piece of matza is realty not from this world. We put it away, we hide it, and then we eat it. It is coming from a completely hidden world. When we eat the afikomen all our prayers are answered in that moment.

On Pesach we celebrate freedom, which means that G-d in Heaven opens the gates of freedom. This world is just a vessel for higher worlds, so something is happening in Heaven on Pesach night, and actually the whole month of Nisan, the month of freedom. We see all of nature becoming free. All the little seeds who were sitting under the earth and crying are now coming out, becoming free. Everything begins to grow.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

"I like my players to be married and in debt. That's the way you motivate them."

Ernie Banks

New Shiurim

Three new audio shiurim were posted today to prepare for the holiday. They should be linked on the side of this page. Sweetest friends - deeper than deep:).
Sadly, Mr. Isaac Leo Kram, the grandfather of my beloved friend Rav Dovid Kram Shlita, passed away last week. He was one of the tzadikim of the generation. He went through the holocaust and survived both physically and spiritually. His diary is required reading. On page 8 he talks about Pesach in Buchenwald. Here is the link [if it doesn't work please tell me].
Please read.

Delicious Hagada Thoughts

Some hagada gems sent to me by my beloved friend R' Shalom Yitzchak Chaim ["Geoffrey"] Dworkin. I THANK HIM!


It’s bread of affliction! No, it’s freedom bread! No, it’s bread of affliction! – Stop, you’re both right! What an irony: the same ingredients that combine to produce a symbol for slavery are the very same ingredients that combine to produce a symbol for freedom. Let’s skip the Harvey Dent analogies and get to the point: there are certain people who have identical talents, identical potentials. For some, it works out well while for others, not so much. On Pesach, it’s a level playing field—we all were freed, regardless of talents, position, capabilities or past. Now sling that matzah over your shoulder and know that this flavorless flatbread has the potential to turn you toward one of two paths. There are no guarantees in this world. You have the ingredients within you, what you make of them is your business, so bake with caution!

The wicked one, what does he say? “What is this service to you?!”
The Rasha has a pretty good point: you’re free tonight, so how do you celebrate it? With more rules and regulations! Rules are for slaves, not free people. Leave it to the rabbis to put a damper on what should be a night of unfettered celebration by hanging us up with endless, petty rules: this size matzah, in that amount of time, before this hour, in this particular position, dip, shake... When does it end with these guys? Curiously, we don’t even attempt to reason with the Rasha; rather, and quite shockingly, we punch him in the kisser! But that is exactly the crux of the matter, says R. Isaac Bernstein. If being free is, as the Rasha suggests, being able to do what we want to do, then what’s to stop me from punching him in the face, if that is how I so choose to “celebrate” my freedom? Nothing. Freedom without discipline isn’t freedom—it’s anarchy. Freedom is not the ability to do what you want to do, but the opportunity to do what you have to do.

It happened that Rabbi Eliezer…
It’s nice that R. Akiva is hosting these Talmudic all-stars at his home, but these sagacious sidekicks were actually his teachers (not to mention that R. Akiva himself once said the yom tov meal is best had in one’s own home). Why, then, would they have trekked to B’nai Brak when any one of them ought to have hosted R. Akiva in the warm confines of his respective home. Check out this roster of illustrious Torah luminaries—this isn’t the first time they hooked up Foursquare-style at a prime Israeli locale. This very same group cried on the Temple Mount when seeing foxes scamper on the ruins of the Mikdash (don’t trust me, check out Makkot 24b). But who was there to lift their spirits—none other than the laughing R. Akiva: If God fulfilled his prophesy of destruction, assured the sanguine sage, then he’ll certainly fulfill his prophesy of redemption. Resilient R. Akiva had the optimism to restore hope in the forlorn five-some. As history would have it, suggests R. Arye Pomeranchuk, just before this particular Pesach, these rabbis tried to take their talents to the Roman authorities to seek out reprieve for the Jewish people, who were suffering under Roman rule. They were met with resistance—the status quo would remain. In the face of such utter defeat, only the assured Akiva’s optimism could lift their spirits and instill the festive fortitude necessary to celebrate a freedom festival amongst such gloom. Count me in!

Go forth and learn what Lavan...
Go and learn? We might have a fighting chance to understand what you were saying if we actually came to learn. Pesach, and freedom more broadly, is experiential—we all need to see ourselves as having been redeemed, not just our ancestors. Freedom isn’t an intellectual experience we can sit down and lean by reading a bunch of texts. We need to experience it on our own for it to have any meaning for us. Don’t take my word for it. Go forth and and apply the lessons learned of the Pesach seder to your life, see whether it leads to a more fulfilling way of living or not.

Chad Gadya
And so we come to the end. And what a curious end indeed! A silly little song about a father who buys his son a goat. But it is more than that, of course. It is a tale of a series of hard-luck events that precipitate from this; a song, observes Elie Wiesel, of God’s own creatures destroying one another, some unwittingly while others less innocently. Quite the damper on an otherwise joyous night, wouldn’t you say? But the song reminds us that in Jewish history, all creatures, all animals, all events are connected. Continues Wiesel, the goat and the cat, the fire and the water, the slaughterer and the redeemer, they are all part of the story. And just when we think there is something that might pull us down, we must always remember that there is always another force that could just as easily bring us up.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Rav Chaim On Torah U-Madda

A recent story with Rav Chaim Kniyevski: A boy came to him and asked for a bracha for hatzlacha in Yeshiva University.

Rav Chaim said "Half a day yeshiva, half a day university? Come to Israel. Here we have full time yeshivos. Then you'll get a bracha."

It would seem that Rav Chaim doesn't subscribe to the Torah-Umadda philosophy......

[R' Yaakov Friedman]

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Here is a hagada presently being written based on the thought of Rav Soloveitchik.

New Post

My "Shabbos Hagadol Drasha" [so to speak..] here. We discuss the Holy Rambam who says that the Kohen Gadol must live in Yerushalayim. Where does he get THAT from? A tour de force:).

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Where Is The Minui?

My chavrusa Yoni asked me SUCH a good question today, I thought I would share it with everyone:).

The halacha is that onee may not each the Korban Pesach unless he first "registers" called in Talmudics "מנוי". He may not just find a random group of people on Pesach night and join them in the eating of the Pesach. That being the case, how can we say in הא לחמא עניא at the beginning of maggid "כל דצריך ייתי ויפסח" - Anybody who needs should come and eat the Korban Pesach. That is AGAINST the halacha!!?? He is not registered so he may not eat.

Wonder of wonders.....


"The paradox of our time in history is that we have taller buildings but shorter tempers; wider freeways but narrower viewpoints. We spend more but have less; we buy more but enjoy less. We have bigger houses and smaller families; more conveniences but less time. We have more degrees but less sense; more knowledge but less judgment; more experts yet more problems; more medicine but less wellness.We drink too much, smoke too much, spend too recklessly, laugh too little, drive too fast, get too angry, stay up too late, get up too tired, read too little, watch TV too much, and pray too seldom. We have multiplied our possessions but reduced our values. We talk too much, love too seldom, and hate too often.We've learned how to make a living but not a life. We've added years to life, not life to years. We've been all the way to the moon and back, but have trouble crossing the street to meet a new neighbor. We've conquered outer space but not inner space. We've done larger things but not better things.We've cleaned up the air but polluted the soul. We've conquered the atom but not our prejudice. We write more but learn less. We plan more but accomplish less. We've learned to rush but not to wait. We build more computers to hold more information to produce more copies than ever but we communicate less and less.These are the times of fast food and slow digestion, big men and small characters, steep profits and shallow relationships. These are the days of two incomes but more divorce; fancier houses but broken homes. These are the days of quick trips, disposable diapers, throwaway morality, one night stands, overweight bodies, and pills that do everything from cheer to quiet to kill. It is a time when there is much in the showroom window and nothing in the stockroom.

Remember - spend some time with your loved ones, because they are not going to be around forever. Remember - say a kind word to someone who looks up to you in awe, because that little person will soon grow up and leave your side.
Remember - give a warm hug to the one next to you, because that is the only treasure you can give with your heart and it doesn't cost a cent.
Remember to say "I love you" to your partner and your loved ones, but most of all mean it. A kiss and an embrace will mend hurt when it comes from deep inside of you.
Remember to hold hands and cherish the moment, for someday that person will not be there again. Give time to love! Give time to speak! And give time to share the precious thoughts in your mind. And always remember: life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away."

You Are Never Ugly

R' Amichai Gordin from Shabbat Bi-shabbato

I don't agree with his analysis of the story but the lesson he learns is eternally true...

It happened once that Rabbi Elazar son of Rabbi Shimon from Migdal Gedor went away from his rabbi's home. He was very happy, and he was feeling great pride because he had learned so much Torah.
As he traveled, he met a man who was very ugly. He said, "Man, how ugly you are! Are all the people of your city as ugly as you?" The man replied, "I really would not know. Go to the artist who made me and tell Him how ugly a vessel He has made."
Rabbi Elazar realized that he had sinned. He got down from his donkey and bowed down to the man. "I made a mistake and failed, forgive me!" But the man was stubborn. He said, "I do not forgive you.
"Go to the artist who made me and tell Him how ugly a vessel He has made."
The people of the city begged the man to forgive Rabbi Elazar, and in the end he finally agreed. But he told the rabbi, "I forgive you on condition that you do not make a habit of doing such things."
(Source: Taanit 20a).
* * * * * *
This strange story bothered me for many years. What happened to Rabbi Elazar that made him decide to disturb the ugly man and to tease him? How did Rabbi Elazar, an important Tana and a righteous man, fall into such a childish and foolish trap? How could he attack a stranger and call him ugly to his face?
The question is even greater than that. In the end, when the man finally agrees to accept the rabbi's apology he gives the rabbi a condition to fulfill, "Don't do it again," he says. Was this condition really necessary? Why would anybody suspect that Rabbi Elazar might be ready to repeat his terrible mistake?
At a Purim celebration at one-thirty in the middle of the night, I found an answer to my question. I cannot remember who I was speaking to and what we were talking about. I was lightly intoxicated, as was my friend. We spoke about the essence of mankind, when an answer to my question suddenly popped into my head.
What I suddenly understood was not a simple explanation. The night of Purim is not the time for simple insights of the type revealed every day. A great secret was revealed to me that night, a deep insight into the strange story of Rabbi Elazar. Even if it is not a simple idea, it is clearly the absolute truth.
* * * * * *
Just whom did Rabbi Elazar meet that night? Who is the Jew who was given the tile of "ugly"? The answer is really very simple. The ugly person was none other than Rabbi Elazar himself! Rabbi Elazar was feeling pride. He felt very good. That being the case, he took hold of himself and looked inside, in a mood of abject self-criticism.
"Why are you so satisfied with yourself?" he said. "You are full of faults and failures. So what if you studied Torah? In the end, you are very ugly." That is what Rabbi Elazar said to himself, taking on a huge dose of internal criticism.
We often criticize our own actions. We sometimes even come to the conclusion that we are ugly, that we are worthless. A few years ago, a famous singer sang, "I am nothing! I am nothing! That is what I shouted out to everybody at a party." At a moment of crisis, we tend to disparage our own selves. We sometimes even start to hate our own selves.
In reaction to this harsh analysis, Rabbi Elazar scolded himself. To say that you are ugly means to say that G-d created an ugly vessel. To say that you are ugly is to speak out against the Holy One, Blessed be He. You are not the master of your own self, you were fashioned by the Creator. Who gave you permission to show contempt for a creature made by the Creator of the world!
We are not allowed to show contempt for our own selves. We were created by the Holy One, Blessed be He. Even though we can criticize our actions, we must remember that we are children of a King, we have been fashioned out of precious stones and jewels.
In the end of the story, Rabbi Elazar forgave himself, on one condition. He accepted that he would never repeat this sin any more. He accepted the condition that he would never again call himself ugly or say that he is worthless.
* * * * * *
We are often told that there is no such thing as a bad boy, there are only boys who are having a bad time. This is certainly very true, but not only with respect to others – it is true for us too. We are not really bad. We are good, even though we sometimes stumble and fall. We are not ugly and we are not worthless.
We must never call another person ugly, he is the handiwork of the great Creator. We must also never call ourselves ugly – we too are the handiwork of the Creator...

More On Self Awareness

From an email communication:

Dear Rabbeinu,


"When each thought absorbs your attention completely, it means you identify with the voice in your head. Thought then becomes invested with a sense of self. This is the ego, a mind-made "me." That mentally constructed self feels incomplete and precarious. That’s why fearing and wanting are its predominant emotions and motivating forces.

When you recognize that there is a voice in your head that pretends to be you and never stops speaking, you are awakening out of your unconscious identification with the stream of thinking. When you notice that voice, you realize that who you are is not the voice — the thinker — but the one who is aware of it.

Knowing yourself as the awareness behind the voice is freedom."

This is so amazing but time constraints allow me not to elaborate.
Sounds interesting, can you explain???
My answer:
In short, this is what I think:
We are all locked into a certain way of thinking, feeling and seeing the world. We identify our feelings with who we are and are frustrated.
Example: A person is annoyed by his wife because she is critical of him. He THINKS that she is absolutely wrong and fights fire with fire.
And the Satan dances with joy.
To be self aware is to understand why I am bothered when my wife criticizes me, to understand her motivations, to question what I do to trigger the criticism , to consider different  modus operandi [method of operations] in receiving the criticism and mostly in understanding that there is no OBJECTIVE reason to be upset but a purely SUBJECTIVE one that I have locked myself into since childhood.
Example 2: I don't get pshat in the gemara and get down on myself. Self awareness means that I understand that my feelings have ZERO to do with the gemara and EVERYTHING to do with my fundamentally errant way of seeing the world, life and primarily myself. Do I value myself even if I don't "chap pshat". Do I feel Hashem's love? My own self-love? The love of those around me? Do I appreciate that I have many other middos unrelated to whether yeush she-lo mi-daas is or isn't yeush and how one can have yeush before he actually has yeush [shittas Rava].
Self awareness means to step outside yourself as a dispassionate observer and understand why you feel the way you do and FIX your inbred way of being to something more healthy.
Make sense???
Thanks for asking:)
באהבה רבה

Tuesday, March 19, 2013


Rav Eliyahu Dessler - The Child Within Us
As Pesach is a time to instill true emunah into our children, the entire Haggadah is a textbook on how educate children. The format is question and answer and every step along the way we do things to try to coax the children to ask by themselves. We bring many props like Matza and Marror and we try to relive the story, attempting to take the children back to the excitement of leaving Mitzrayim.

That being the case, asks Rav Eliyahu Dessler (Michtav MeiEliyahu 4:249), why if there are no children must we still conduct our seder in this pedagogical manner? Why say the Mah Nishtanah and not just delve into the story? Why must accomplished Talmidei Chachomim and even Gedolei HaDor who hold a Seder amongst themselves perform the Seder in this childish manner? Why must we ask ourselves the Mah Nishtanah if we are making a Seder alone?

Rav Dessler answers that Seder night is not simply an intellectual exercise. Seder night is meant to internalize the emunah that we learn from Yetzias Mitzrayim. The lessons must be taken to heart and change the way we lead our lives and navigate he world through the prism of emunah.
True that in our intellect we are all Chachomim, says Rav Dessler, but our hearts are Am Haratzim. Our lives are led by our immature heart. In order to teach our childish heart we must teach it like we teach children asking the questions and showing the answers. In this way we hope that we can finally grow up and lead our lives on the same level that we intellectually know we should.
“A genuine relationship is one that is not dominated by the ego with its image-making and self-seeking. In a genuine relationship, there is an outward flow of open, alert attention toward the other person in which there is no wanting whatsoever.” 

Monday, March 18, 2013

כל דכפין ייתי ויכול

Why do we begin our seder by inviting all of the hungry and poor to come and join us?

Primo Levi was a survivor of Auschwitz. In his book "If this Is Man" he relates that the worst time of all was when the Nazi's left in January 1945 fearing the Russian advance. All prisoners who could walk were taken on brutal death marches. The only people left in the camp were those who were too ill to move. For ten days they were left alone with only scraps of food and fuel. When the broken window was repaired and the stove began to spread its heat, something seemed to relax in everyone, and at that moment Towarowski [a Franco-Pole suffering from Typhus] proposed to the others that they offer a slice of bread to the three of us that had been working. And so it was agreed. Only a day before a similar event would have been inconceivable. The law of the camps was "eat your own bread and if you can, that of your neighbor", and left no room for gratitude. It really meant that the law of the camps was dead. It was the first human gesture that occurred among us. I believe that that moment can be dated as the beginning of the change by which we who had not died slowly changed from prisoners to men again.

Freedom means to share. A slave can't share because he never knows what will happen tomorrow. A free person can share because he no longer fears the unknown future. That is why we begin our seder by inviting the poor to join us. [Based on R' Jonathan Sacks' hagada.]


The Psychology Of Cyberspace

My good friend D.R. linked me to an interesting site that discusses the psychology of cyberspace. Among what I saw there was the following:

 While online a person's status in the face-to-face world may not be known to others and it may not have as much impact as it does in the face-to-face world. If people can't see you or your surroundings, they don't know if you are the president of a major corporation sitting in your expensive office, or some "ordinary" person lounging around at home in front of the computer. Even if people do know something about your offline status and power, that elevated position may have little bearing on your online presence and influence. In most cases, everyone on the internet has an equal opportunity to voice him or herself. Everyone - regardless of status, wealth, race, gender, etc. - starts off on a level playing field. Although one's status in the outside world ultimately may have some impact on one's powers in cyberspace, what mostly determines your influence on others is your skill in communicating (including writing skills), your persistence, the quality of your ideas, and your technical know-how.

People are reluctant to say what they really think as they stand before an authority figure. A fear of disapproval and punishment from on high dampens the spirit. But online, in what feels like a peer relationship - with the appearances of "authority" minimized - people are much more willing to speak out or misbehave.

According to traditional Internet philosophy, everyone is an equal: Peers share ideas and resources. In fact, the net itself is engineered with no centralized control. As it grows, with a seemingly endless potential for creating new environments, many people see themselves as independent-minded explorers. This atmosphere and philosophy contribute to the minimizing of authority.

I will share my experience. I used to learn with boys in a yeshiva. Given my job, the fact that I was older and wore a hat, dark suit and had a beard, the boys would refer to me deferentially as "Rav" or "Rebbi" etc. I am not saying I deserved it but that was the way it was. [I no longer have such a position and although I hope to return to a yeshiva at some point in the future, I have never been happier in my life. BBBAAAARUUUCH HASHEEEEMMM.] If I would talk to a boy - he would never ignore me or pretend he didn't hear. But when I send the same boy an email, he WILL ignore me or pretend he didn't hear. I am no longer a Rebbi - I am just like an advertisement for foot spray! 

How interesting:):)!! 

Pesach Cleaning

March bustles in on windy feet
And sweeps my doorstep and my street.
She washes and cleans with pounding rains,
Scrubbing the earth of winter stains.
She shakes the grime from carpet green
Till naught but fresh new blades are seen.
Then, house in order, all neat as a pin,
She ushers gentle springtime in.

הא לחמא עניא

We say הא לחמא עניא - This is the bread of affliction etc. anyone who is hungry should come and eat and anyone who is needy should come and have the Pesach.

Why do we open with an invitation to the poor to join us, a practice we don't find anywhere else. Obviously this has something to do with Yetzias Mitzrayim, but what??

We were in Egypt and were under foreign rule. This caused a psychological pressure that prevented us from being our true selves. What is a Jew? Let's check the DNA! We have CHESED throbbing through our veins. We are the children of Avraham Avinu, the paragon of chesed. When we were in Egypt this natural inclination was repressed. When were were released [as we are every year on Pesach night] it was like a spring that was held down was let go. We can finally be ourselves so we instinctively cry out "Poor unfortunate people PLEASE come join me. I need to GIVE." That is the first expression of our new found freedom. Not only that but we add כל דכפין ייתי ויפסח - anyone who is needy should come and have the Pesach. Meaning we don't just want to give food, we want to give SPIRITUAL food - the holy korban pesach.

I must say - מי כעמך ישראל. There is no nation that is as deeply imbued with the ethic of tzedaka and chesed as the Jewish People. I was thinking about that once when I was in Manhattan. I was watching people rummage through garbage cans looking for some "shirayim" [and it didn't matter to them which "Rebbe" left it. All that mattered was that it was edible]. If a Jew is hungry he can go to any Jewish community and be swamped with invitations to eat. We don't just do chesed - we love doing chesed.
[עפ"י הרב קוק]

The Many For One

In Israel there is a large movement, spearheaded by a anti-religious political party with far too many seats in the Knesset, to close down the yeshivos. The way to do that is simply cut off their funding [and as one who has had "funding yeshiva" problems I know what that means]. No Kemach - No Torah. Starve 'em!!:)

Some people say: "Why does EVERYBODY have to learn in yeshiva? Just take 400 of the best boys and let them learn and send the rest to the Army and then to the workforce."

Some ask this question because they hate [or don't appreciate] the value of Torah. Others sincerely want to understand. In the history of our people there has never been so many people learning full-time, so why do we need it? [I once had a friend who was a colleague in a yeshiva where I taught who told me that if he could, he would close down 90 percent of all yeshivos. I was so TOUCHED by this expression of Ahavas Torah:). Wonder of wonders. He was a person who taught Torah but couldn't appreciate its value]. My answer is directed at the second group.

There are many answers to this question. Many. Here is one: The Alter of Slabodka, Rav Nosson Tzvi Finkel, used to say that it was worth it to have the entire yeshiva of Slabodka just to produce one Rav Aharon Kotler. He meant that in order to produce a Rav Aharon Kotler, you need a whole yeshiva. Certain people thrive in a yeshiva atmosphere and need the accompaniment of a large number of boys in order to maximize their potential. It is definitely worth it to have a yeshiva of 400 boys in order to produce one Rav Ahron Kotler who was a leader of Klal Yisrael.

The Long Road To Brooklyn

Today I was in Geula [hoping for the geula:)] when a man stopped me on the street and asked me how to get to Brooklyn. I was JUST ABOUT to tell him to take the C train and get off at 59th street and switch to the F train. Then I realized two things - I get lost when going to Brooklyn [and most other places] so I have no right advising others. Also - getting the C train would be quite a journey from where we were standing.

I said something like "WHAAAATTT?"

So he said "מאפיית ברוקלין" [Brooklyn Bakery].


He really came to the wrong guy. If my Rebbetzin had been there it would have been different....

Just wanted to share.


"When each thought absorbs your attention completely, it means you identify with the voice in your head. Thought then becomes invested with a sense of self. This is the ego, a mind-made "me." That mentally constructed self feels incomplete and precarious. That’s why fearing and wanting are its predominant emotions and motivating forces.

When you recognize that there is a voice in your head that pretends to be you and never stops speaking, you are awakening out of your unconscious identification with the stream of thinking. When you notice that voice, you realize that who you are is not the voice — the thinker — but the one who is aware of it.

Knowing yourself as the awareness behind the voice is freedom."

This is so amazing but time constraints allow me not to elaborate.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Times Have Changed

More [continued from last post] on current events.

In Israel there are two basic Torah communities [with ten million sub-groups]. The Charedi and the Dati Leumi [religious Zionist]. I personally am a product of both. Most of my learning was done in Yeshivat Hakotel and my readers know of my dveykus to kisvei HaRav Kook. I also studied in more Charedi yeshivos and my rabbeim were of that stripe. I chose to raise my children according to the Charedi model with all of it's pros [so much Torah!!] and cons [how are they going to support themselves when they grow up?]. I am convinced that both groups have much to learn from each other. There is so much good in both communities baruch Hashem.

The Dati Leumi political party used to be called the "Mafdal" and had some real Talmidei Chachomim [such as HaRav Neriah ztz"l and Dr. Wahthaftig ztz"l who helped save the Mir yeshiva] and bnei Torah in their ranks. Today the party that represents the Dati Leumi world is called "Habayit Hayehudi" and without going into details they have strayed very-VERY far from the values held dear by so much of their constituency. This saddens me deeply. In a way, it can be viewed as tragedy for the Dati Leumi world. I think the people who are saddest are the Roshei Yeshiva of the Dati Leumi world who now have nobody representing their interests in the Knesset.

I look forward to a day when graduates of Mercaz HaRav and Har Hamor are representing the Dati-Leumi world in the Knesset. I look more forward to the time when Moshiach comes.... 

Kavod HaTorah

I am not a big newspaper reader. Newspapers are really Oldspapers. Same old stuff again and again. Stories that drag ones mind and soul into the gutter. Of course, the media also has positive elements such as serving a a watchdog and a deterrent for aberrant behavior for fear of getting caught. But I would much rather spend my time reading what the Maharal said than what some journalist said. It's my own thing. Doesn't obligate you. However, from time to time, I am linked to an article of interest.

There is one on-line newspaper that seems to have a very strong anti-religious bent that is dedicated to reporting Jewish news. So in a recent sensationalist article they accused Rav Schachter of being a racist because he said that if a Jew goes to jail he might be put in a cell with a black [using the yiddish term] Muslim who might want to kill him [or something to that effect].

Sweetest friends, don't many-many black Muslims express an unabashed interest in killing Jews? Why is that racist?? They admit it. They are proud of it!:)

He also said that abusers should be turned over to the police after verifying that they are in fact abusers in order to protect the innocent. I was surprised that the article didn't laud his stance on the issue. It seemed from the tone of the article that they were just out to get him. [If I remember correctly it wasn't until page four that they even mentioned that he said to turn offenders over to the police and that it's not mesira].

So in conclusion - I protest the bizayon of HaGaon Rav Shachter Shlita who in addition to being a huge talmid chochom is also a sweet man and a tremendous baal middos.

Enough said. 
Should you tell your wife/husband all of your problems?

My thoughts - here.

To Shave Or Not To Shave

A new, very interesting sefer called מסורת משה was recently published. It is a collection of answers Rav Moshe Feinstein gave to questions he was asked, written by his grandson. It is easy to read and hard to put down once you have opened it up.

One of the thousands of gems: Some years ago a Jew wrote a sefer of close to a thousand pages trying to prove that it is forbidden to shave one's beard. He asked Rav Moshe to give him a haskama on the sefer but was rebuffed. Rav Moshe emphatically told him that his sefer is against 1] The gemara [which explicitly permits shaving with certain instruments 2] The Rambam and 3] Jewish practice. He explained to the author why his reasoning is faulty and told him that if he wants he can publish the sefer but it is against the Torah to say what he says.

Rav Moshe agreed that it is BETTER to have a beard but certainly not an obligation. What I find instructive is that the author neglected to publish Rav Moshe's rebuttal and admit that the world renowned posek hador strongly disagreed with him.

This to me is another example of people who have negiyos [biases] which prevent them from admitting the truth.

The mussar sefarim talk at length about how we are ALL filled with negiyos which obscufates the truth from our eyes. THAT is a good topic for another post.....:)

As for me I will gladly keep my untrimmed beard but not look down upon those who follow the strict halacha.

Thursday, March 14, 2013


Excerpted from Dr. Yael Respler in the Jewish Press:

.....The difficulty lies in how teenagers perceive their surroundings. They often see the world as revolving around them and cannot understand why parents are always asking them to do things and putting limits on what they can do. The key for parents is to try to understand their teenaged child’s feelings and to speak with him or her in a concise and loving manner. Teenagers do not have patience for lectures and will tune out much of what you say.

For example, if you want to ask your daughter to help watch the other children and she says she can’t, you may want to go into lecture mode. Instead, say something like, “I really need your help, but if you can’t you must have a really good reason because you are usually very helpful. So I understand.” Your daughter will likely be astonished, as she was probably expecting a 10-minute lecture as to why she is being selfish and that she needs to work on it. She might say that she has the time to help after all. And even if not, she may begin to react to you differently.

Whenever you speak with your daughter remain relaxed and use a loving tone of voice. Tell your daughter how much you love her and how much you want to have a good relationship with her. Explain that because she is your oldest child she will sometimes be assigned more jobs than the others and that you will make every effort to be fairer when distributing those assignments. At the same time, you will try your best to give her more privileges.

Ask her what you can do to strengthen your relationship with her. Say something like, “I am sure you do not realize it, but I feel bad when you speak to me without derech eretz. Knowing that you are an amazing girl who gives us so much nachas, I do not know what to do to help you speak to me in a nicer tone. I notice that you have a lot of derech eretz for Abba, so I am not sure what I do to encourage a different reaction from you. I want to have a loving and giving relationship with you, so what do you think both of us can do to begin improving our relationship?” Hopefully this will result in a constructive conversation between the two of you, leading to positive change in your relationship.

Also, suggest a secret word that either of you can use when feeling badly about something the other is saying. This can help both of you realize when you are talking to each other in an unkind tone – and give you a chance to change. Try saying this: “Maybe it would be a good idea if we both try to talk differently with each other.”

New Post

How to deal with the surprises of marriage, here.
Many people feel "guilty" about things they shouldn't feel guilty about, in order to shut out feelings of guilt about things they should feel guilty about.

Sydney J. Harris (1917 - 1986)
The best feelings in your life come when you start feeling good after you've been feeling just awful.

Robert Fulghum (1937 -)
Source: Maybe (Maybe Not) (Maybe Not : Second Thoughts from a Secret Life), Pages: 100
THAT is the secret of teshuva:).

A Night Meal

There are two ways to feel close to someone. One way is to have social contact with him. You see him at a simcha, meet her at the supermarket, run into him after mincha. The second way is much deeper. You know that you are connected to this person [and he to you] without even talking to him. The first way requires an external expression. The second just IS, with no need for any concrete expression.

The Korban Pesach is a unique Korban. It is a Korban Yachid, a Korban of an individual [every individual is obligated to bring this Korban], but at the same time it is considered a Korban Tzibbur, a communal offering, because it is brought בכנופיא - everyone together.

The halacha is that the Korban may be eaten only at night. The reason for this is that at night it is dark and that prevents social contact between between people. So when we eat this Korban we realize that our connection to others is so deep that it requires no external expression. We are ONE SOUL. At night we eat this personal-communal offering to remember our eternal connection.

We can also understand another law. The halacha is that the Korban Pesach may be eaten only by those who have first registered to eat this Korban [and people split up into groups and registered on their respective Korbanos]. The reason is that in order to give expression to our deep spiritual connection it requires preparation and may not be done haphazardly.

Is that SOMETHING???

[עולת ראיה ח"א]

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Too Much Gashmiyus

רואים אנו שהנטיה אל החמריות הגסה, לעשותה לבדה לעיקר הכל, היא מביאה את האדם ברשת העצב החשוך, עד לבלי מנוס. וכל זה למה, מפני שהיא סותמת את האורות, מקורי החיים בתוכיותם, ומחנקת את הנשמה באוירה המגושם
שמונה קבצים א שנט
We see that the inclination towards crass materialism, making it alone the primary value, enmeshes a person in a web of dark sadness, with no escape. Why? Because it seals off the Light, the source of internal life and strangles the soul with its crude atmosphere

Girls And Money

Thought that title would be provacative enough to get people to read:). Now open your souls.
יצרא דעריות יוכל ללפף את האדם יותר עמוק מהשורש של קישור החיים שלו עצמו, מפני שהוא נעוץ בנטיית המשך החיים של הדורות כולם. ולעומת זה בקדושה יכולים לעלות על ידי קדושת הברית למדרגת דוגמא של צדיק בכל הדורות. שני לזה הוא ענין חמדת גזל, שהרכוש הוא גם כן מעמיד על רגליו את הדורות בתור ירושה, שאהבת הקנין הרעה, תוכל להשפיל מאד, והטובה שבקדושה תוכל לעלות למרומי החיים ועליוניותם
שמונה קבצים שנו
The yetzer of arayos can completely enmesh a person even deeper that his connection to life itself, because it is rooted in the inclination towards the perpetuation of life for all the generations. [Meaning - your connection to life is only about your life in the here and now. The yetzer of arayos is related to life for all of the generations which of course is much more powerful and all encompassing than your mere existence here right now].
Given the strength of this yetzer, we can understand that if one is holy, pure and guarded, he can be elevated to the level of an ALL-TIME tzaddik, a tzaddik for the generations.
The second most powerful yetzer is MONEYYYYYYY, because large amounts of money can keep many generations of descendants alive and active [called "inheritance"]. This causes people to be less than honest. If one is sanctified in this area he can scale great heights.  

תיקון הברית

עיקר תיקון פגם הברית הוא קידוש הרצון והארתו הברורה, עד שהרצון היותר חזק מצד הטבע הגופני, שיש לו שורש בקדושה חזק מאד מפני הופעת החיים שבו, שהוא הרצון של נטיית המין, אור הקדושה שופע בו כל כך עד שהצד הקדוש שבו הוא הרודה בחיים וממשיך את פעולתו והופעתו. והצד של החול, וקל וחומר של הטומאה שבו, הוא בטל לגמרי לצד הקודש, ואז באמת לא יקרב נגע באהלו, ונעשה צדיק משומר מכל מוקש, וכשהרצון עולה במדרגה עליונה של קודש כזאת, אז הוא מתברר גם מכל מדות רעות ומכל מעשים רעים שבעולם, אפילו מהדברים היותר קלים שהאדם דש אותם בעקביו

שמונה קבצים א שנו

The primary way to fix the sin of the bris [looking/thinking/talking/dreaming/doing] is to sanctify the will and give it Light, until one reaches the point that the MOST powerful will and desire he has, which of course is the sexual urge, which at its root is HOLY because it creates LIFE, is drowned in the Light of Holiness to the extent that the holy aspect becomes completely dominant and perpetuates life. The unholy aspect and certainly the impure aspect is completely nullified to the holy aspect and this person then becomes a tzaddik guarded from all fallings. When the will reaches this level, he becomes freed from all negative qualities in the world including those mitzvos that a person habitually tramples.

Sweetest friends:)! We must focus on our רצון, what we desire, what we yearn for. Fixing our רצון will rectify many problems at the root.

A Favorable Time

A schtickel from the Rav ztz"l:).
תהלים סט יד  - ואני תפלתי לך ד' עת רצון, אלהים ברב חסדך ענני באמת ישעך
אין האדם, המלא תמיד שינויים, ותמורות של רגשות, של מצבי הנפש, ושל הסערות רוחניות שונות, מוכן תמיד להיות מתעצם בתפלה, ושיהיה הוא בעצמו הנושא הראוי של התפלה הרוממה, הזכה והעליונה, המלאה אור ואש קודש ושלהבתיה. הנפש האנושית נתונה היא תחת ההתפעלות של שינויים, הבאים בעתים שונים, וכאשר כן הוא דבר ד' ועצתו העליונה, אשר עשה לנו את הנפש הזאת, ויסד בה את ההכנה לכל אלה השנויים, יודעים אנחנו את ערך אותו הזמן,שהננו מרגישים את עצמנו כולנו מוכנים במדה מלאה להיות מתאחדים במהותה של התפלה, וקוראים אנו את העת ההיא עת רצון. אע"פ שכלפי מעלה האמת המוחלטה זורחת, והישועה של רב החסד העליון ישועת עולמים היא, ונצח ישראל לא ינחם, והכל עומד במצב רם ואיתן ממעל לכל שינויים ותמורות, הנה עצת ד' היא זאת, שיש קשר אדיר בין השפלות של השינויים, שאנו קשורים בהם, ושאנו מוכרחים על ידם לבא לעת רצון, עם האמת הגדולה אשר חסד עליון מופיע עליה, העומד לעד לעולם, ממעל לכל שינוי ותמורת מעמד. ואני תפלתי, עצמיותי האנושית כשהיא באה להתאחד בתפלתי, הראויה להקרא בשם התפלה שלי, ההולמת לאנושיותי, ויורדת עמי בדרגת השנויים, ובאה על ידם למעמד הרם בעת המאושרה, שהנני מוצא את עצמי מקושר עם המהות של תפלתי, יודע אני שזהו לך ד' עת רצון, שאתה האל הקדוש המתעלה מכל זמן ומכל עת, מכל תמורה ומכל שנוי, על פי עצתך העליונה היא עת הרצון, שאנו חשים אותה בתור עת, בתור הופעה יוצאת מכלל של מאורעות של דברים משתנים. אבל המקור העליון של הופעת תכונת העת של הרצון הלא אינה אותה המדה המצומצמת, היורדת להתגלות עלינו בתור עת לבדה, בתור ענין מפורד ועומד בפני עצמו בלא מקוריותה העליונה, כ"א בתור הופעה אצילית ממקור האמת המוחלטה, ששם הוא ששון הישע העליון. אלהים ברב חסדך ענני באמת ישעך, כמו שהוא האמת בעצמותו וביסודו העליון, המתעלה מכל חזיונותינו המצומצמים. והקשר הזה, של השנויים ושל חיי השעה אשר לתפלה, עם חיי העולם ועם הנצחיות העומדת ממעל לשנויים, הוא בעצמו יבטיח לנו, ביחש להכלל, את קביעות הזמן הכללי, שהוא מאושר מצד התורה, שהוא בא מצד התכונה האמתית של ההויה הכללית בכל מהותה, שיש לה התוכן היותר עמוק בההפעלה הנפשית של האיש הפרטי, ונעשה היחיד מוכן ע"י תפלתם של רבים, המקיפה אותו בכל מהותו, ואיזהו עת רצון - בשעה שהצבור מתפללין
"As for me, may my prayer be at a favorable time. O G-d, in the abundance of your kindness answer me with the truth of your salvation." [Tehillim 69/ 14]
This presents a thorny theological conundrum. How is there a "favorable time" for prayer. G-d is BEYOND time, or change, or moods, or circumstances. G-d is above EVERYTHING! So how can we ask that our prayers be accepted at a favorable time?
To summarize the Rav's approach [which does no justice to his richness of language nor to the depth of his perception]: Hashem doesn't change with time but MAN does. We have our good days and our less good days, our times of chesed and our times of the opposite. So we ask: May I become ONE and forge a unity with my prayer. May my prayer be at a good time for ME because the Divine response to my tefilla is determined in no small part by my personal state of being.
The one time where the individual is NOT judged based on his personal state of being is when he joins others for communal prayer. That is why the gemara in brachos says that the best עת רצון - favorable time, is when the community is davening.
In a word - we should daven with a minyan:):).  
[Sweetest friends - if you can try to go through the original, please do. It is masterful.]

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

New Articles

This is last weeks article on "gmirus daas" in lomdus and mussar.

This is this weeks article on testifying in court and .... about Hashem.

It mamesh pains me that barely anyone reads my Hebrew articles as they are [all humility aside:)] sweeter than honey and deeper than the ocean. My only consolation is that I found one person who LOVES reading the articles. He is presently typing at my computer.... To expand would require an independent post.
Check out Reb Shmulie - especially the post from March 5th, here.

A Rosh Chodesh Message

This was sent out to the people on my email list. Please learn something or do a mitzva in my great grandmother's memory. Thank you:). Here is a shiur that should lift us a little out of the mud in which many of us are mired:). לעילוי נשמת אסתר בת ר' שמואל.

Shalom and Chodesh Tov Sweet Friends:)!
Today is the 24th yahrtzeit of my beloved great-grandmother Esther bas R' Shmuel so I wanted to share a short dvar Torah לעילוי נשמתה. First a few words about her. She was the only grandparent I knew and we were close. She had a very difficult life. Among other tzaros, she lost her parents, two husbands [her first at a very young age], all of her siblings, and the most difficult of all, her only daughter after a 13 year long illness. Her only descendant was her granddaughter [my mother] and they were very very close. She had four great grandchildren whom she loved dearly [and today many-many great-great grandchildren בלי עין הרע] and her apartment was a shrine to them with pictures everywhere. Like many people of her generation she never complained. She was always cheerful and pleasant and everyone loved her. When I came to yeshiva in Israel I would go visit her in Netanya and say things in Hungarian like "Nani-cum eiletem, hoid void??" [Dear grandmother, how are you?"], Cussenem nadyoin seipen!! [Thank you very much] With that, I basically exhausted my Hungarian vocabulary [I could also count from one to ten but that usually didn't fit into the conversation]. Fortunately, she knew English as well so we were able to communicate..... She was so proud of her grandsons who were learning in yeshiva.
During the war, she hid from the Nazis in the basement of a Gentile family [who was paid generously] with her daughter and son-in-law and בחסדי השם her life [and ultimately mine:)] was spared. I remember calling her every Sunday. First, we called the operator and told her the number in Israel. Then we hung up and the operator called Israel to make the connection and then called us back. Then we were connected to the senior citizens home in Netanya where we had to wait a few minutes until she was located. Boy, times have changed. Today is a happy day [EVERY DAY is a happy day] because it is Rosh Chodesh but also sad for me because I miss her so much. She is buried near the Klausenberger Rebbe זי"ע in the Netanya cemetery. יהי זכרה ברוך.
In the hagada there is a puzzling phrase: יכול מראש חודש - I might think that one must relate the miracles of yetzias mitzraim already from Rosh Chodesh Nissan. Why? Explains Rav Tzadok Hakohen from Lublin - All of the kedusha of the month is concentrated in the first day. Just like all of the Jewish people were potentially contained in Avraham Avinu [and therefore everything promised to him was also promised to his seed] so too, all of the month is contained in the "Rosh".
The Hagada continues that still, תלמוד לומר ביום ההוא on that day [Pesach] the mitzva applies and not before. In classical talmudic style the Hagada continues to pursue all logical possibilities "אי מביום ההוא יכול מבעוד יום" - Maybe "that day" means while it is still daytime on Erev Pesach. "Day" implies "daytime" - does it not? The Hagada answers תלמוד לומר בעבור זה - לא אמרתי אלא בשעה שמצה ומרור מונחים לפניך - The pasuk says "For this" implying when the matza and maror are placed before you.
Why would we think that one could relate the story of the hagaada and fulfill the mitzva while it is still day and not yet Pesach? The Heilige Beis Yisrael זי"ע at his seder in 1946 [two years later he became the Gerrer Rebbe] explained with a Chassidic-Let's-Get-Close-To-Hashem-And-Be-Happy-Bent: One might think that one should only thank Hashem for all He does when it is "day" - when things are bright and sunny. The hagada teaches that the BEST time to thank Hashem is when matza and maror are placed before you. Matza means [in Aramaic] quarrels and maror is bitterness. When things are tough, when life is מצה and מרור, that is the best time to thank and praise Him. This was said after the Rebbe lost almost all of his family including his wife and children [he never had more] and 6 million of our people.
Sweetest friends - Having a rough time in life? Things not going the way you would want them to? Welcome to the club. The 7 billion member club... Now is the BEST and MOST IDEAL TIME to be strengthened in the middah of simcha.
I would like to introduce you to a Jew who never let the rough times get him down. His name is Rabbi Shlomo Naki of the Bucharim neighborhood of Yerushalayim. He was married happily 34 years ago. He and his kallah were excited to start a family together. Who isn't? But things didn't go as planned and his wife had trouble conceiving. They went to doctors and more doctors. To Rabbis and more Rabbis. But no child. Disappointment after disappointment. A year and another year and another year. 10 years. Nothing. 20. Nothing. 30. Nothing.
He never despaired. Two weeks ago Rabbi and Mrs. Naki welcomed a beautiful-healthy-baby-girl-neshama-tehorah into the world. MAZEL TOV!!:)
Indded - there IS hope. יש תקוה.
A-gut-chodesh-filled-with-hope-simcha-faith-lack-of-despair-always-seeing-the-light-despite-the maror-we-all-eat-and-a-geula-shleima:):) [thanks R.B.!]
Love and blessings from the Eretz Hakdosha for which we waited not 34 years but two thousand.....:)


Tinok ben Itta Meira a newborn who needs heart surgery

Monday, March 11, 2013

The capacity for hope is the most significant fact of life. It provides human beings with a sense of destination and the energy to get started.
Norman Cousins (1912 - 1990)

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Complete Or Partial Chessed

As many of my readers and friends know I no longer am zocheh [or zoicheh, depending on how frum you are:)] to live in מקדש מלך עיר מלוכה - the Holy City of Yerushalayim. I now live in Givat Zeev which you can find if you google "nowhere land".

Sometimes I have to go to Yerushalayim to take care of various things. I prefer to stay home because if I'm on the road, I am not in the Beis Hamedrash. It was King David who asked that he sit in the House of Hashem all of his life and there is no greater House of Hashem in our times than a Beis Medrash.

To get to Yerushalayim I have two options. I can take public transportation but that takes a long time [sometimes close to an hour although the express bus which is infrequent take only about a half an hour] or I can hitch ["tremp" in the vernacular] a ride by standing next to the mikva [which is at the edge of town soon before people go on to the main road leading to Yerushalayim] and sticking out my finger.

I don't have the option of driving my own car because I don't have one. There are two very good reasons for this. One - I can't afford a car. Two  - I can't drive:). The reason I can't afford a car probably has something to do with the fact that I decided about 20 years ago that I want to focus on learning and not earning. Baruch Hashem, I have fantastically successful at the latter and am still working on being a success at the former. I don't regret my decision. מרבה נכסים מרבה דאגה say our Sages in the Ethics of our Fathers. The more money and possessions a person has the more worries he has. I don't lose sleep at night because I am worried about my stock portfolio or the real estate I bought [unfortunately I lose sleep over other things:)]. More importantly, I get to spend all day every day drinking the refreshing water of Torah. מעין עולם הבא. I envy nobody other than myself. When a boy tells me that he is debating between going into avodas hakodesh or a secular pursuit, if he is cut out for kodesh I advise him to go for the kodesh. I don't know about עולם הבא [Hashem will decide if he made the right choice] but as far as עולם הזה goes it's the BEST! The reason I can't drive is not for now...

Since tremping is so much quicker [and less nauseating] than the bus I often take that option. People are very nice and often stop. Something interesting that I noticed. Some of my benefactors smoke and often will light up in the car [making it MORE nauseating than the bus]. Let me make myself  clear: The car is their personal property and they have the right to do whatever they want [assuming smoking is מותר which it isn't...:)]. However, it has not yet happened that they asked me if I it bothers me. What I often wonder is "What are they thinking?" Are they thinking "It's my car and I don't have to ask his permission." If that's what they are thinking they are right. They really don't have to ask. But is it a COMPLETE chesed to give someone a ride and make him suffer and inhale carcinogens? Or, does it not even occur to them that the smoke may bother the passenger? If that is the case, then it is ALSO not a complete chesed to be insensitive to the recipient of the chesed.

My message is - Try not only to do chesed but try to do chesed with SHLEIMUS, COMPLETE CHESED. Every chesed has different levels and one should strive to reach the zenith.

I have a lot more to say about the topic but I am presently consumed by the din of taaroves miyut chametz bi-rov matza and need to return. I will let my wise readers come to their own conclusions....

A Good Head

When Rav Hutner was a young man he learned by himself without a chavrusa. His Rebbi, the Alter of Slabodka, asked him why he doesn't learn with a chavrusa. He replied "I learn with my yetzer hara." The Alter asked him why he doesn't learn with his yetzer tov?

He replied "My yetzer hara is always there and also he has a better head."

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Adar Is Not Over Yet....

I was laughing so hard it hurt..... here.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Thank You

I thank those who davened for Eliana Naomi bas Ayelet Yocheved. The surgery went well B"H!

So Good

I emailed a close friend today who has a lot going for him and suggested that he should be feeling this. Maybe you should, too:)..

Thursday, March 7, 2013

The Power Of Love

You may seek companionship and warmth, for example, but if your unconscious intention is to keep people at a distance, the experiences of separation and pain will surface again and again until you come to understand that you, yourself, are creating them. Eventually, you will choose to create harmony and love. You will choose to draw to you the highest-frequency currents that each situation has to offer. Eventually, you will come to understanding that love heals everything, and love is all there is.
The journey may take many lifetimes, but you will complete it. It is impossible not to complete it. It is not a question of if but of when. Every situation that you create serves this purpose. Every experience that you encounter serves this purpose.
Gary Zukav
Source: The Seat of the Soul, Pages: 121
As the Zohar Hakadosh puts it: הכל בחביבותא תליא - It all depends on love.


I have gotten a lot of feedback on my recent "Charif" post. Eleven people are no longer speaking to me. Three people are trying to have me excommunicated. Seven people suggested that medication may -  or may not - help.


In all seriousness - people Baruch Hashem really want to be sincere, real Jews. I hope we start a revolution. Jews always spearheaded revolutions and this should be a positive, holy one...

Love and blessings!


Nearly every major decision of my business career was, to some degree, the result of daydreaming. ... To be sure, in every case I had to collect a lot of data, do detailed analysis, and make a data-based argument to convince superiors, colleagues and business partners. But that all came later. In the beginning, there was the daydream. By daydreaming, I mean loose, unstructured thinking with no particular goal in mind. ... In fact, I think daydreaming is a distinctive mode of cognition especially well suited to the complex, 'fuzzy' problems that characterize a more turbulent business environment. ... Daydreaming is an effective way of coping with complexity. When a problem has a high degree of complexity, the level of detail can be overwhelming. The more one focuses on the details, the more one risks being lost in them. ... Every child knows how to daydream. But many, perhaps most, lose the capacity as they grow up.
Dov Frohman
Source: Leadership the Hard Way: Why Leadership Can't Be Taught - And How You Can Learn It Anyway (J-B Warren Bennis Series)

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

אליענה נעמי בת איילת יוכבד

Please daven for Eliana Naomi bat Ayelet Yocheved

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The Coldest

I quote from Wiki:
Absolute zero is the coldest possible temperature. More formally, it is the temperature at which entropy reaches its minimum value. The laws of thermodynamics state that absolute zero cannot be reached using only thermodynamic means. A system at absolute zero still possesses quantum mechanical zero-point energy, the energy of its ground state. The kinetic energy of the ground state cannot be removed. However, in the classical interpretation, it is zero and the thermal energy of matter vanishes.
The zero point of any thermodynamic temperature scale, such as Kelvin or Rankine scale, is set at absolute zero. By international agreement, absolute zero is defined as 0K on the Kelvin scale and as −273.15° on the Celsius scale.

Why is this significant? The COLDEST temperature is -273. Amalek ALSO is the COLDEST. They try to freeze us in our Avodas Hashem. אשר קרך בדרך - They "cooled" us off on the path. Any time we express a spiritual passion Amalek [and the Amalek inside of us] tells us to relax and cools the flames of passion.

ראשית גויים עמלק - The head of all goyim is Amalek. The first letters spell רגע. The pasuk says כי רגע באפו-  Hashem's "anger", says the gemara, lasts for a moment - a רגע. Amalek tries to take advantage of that moment to destroy us.

So how COOL is it that the gematria of רגע is 273.


[Based on the sefer מבשרי אחזה אלוה]


I quote from my previous post:

In the end, my argument comes down to this: according to an Avi Chai survey by Amy L. Sales and Leonard Saxe, “Particularism in the University: Realities and Opportunities for Jewish Life on Campus,” and to Jonathan Ament in “American Jewish Religious Denominations,” somewhere between a quarter and nearly half of Orthodox Students entering college are no longer Orthodox by the time they graduate. (“For example, one-quarter of the students who come to college as Orthodox Jews report that they have changed their denominational identity while at college. About half of these chose Conservative Judaism,” Sales and Saxe write. Ament, meanwhile, adds, “For example, the table indicates that among those who were raised Orthodox, 42% are still Orthodox…”)

What is SHOCKING is how Orthodox-identified high schools and even yeshivos in Israel encourage [or at least don't actively dissude] their students to attend secular colleges. [I heard of one yeshiva where there is a rule that if a student wants to attend an Ivy League school the Rabbeim are forbidden from trying to dissuade him:).] If we would see a student about to fall off a cliff, wouldn't we try to save him? Why is the soul any less alive that the body?

Pi-lei Pla-os!

Is It Worth It?

This is an excerpt from an article in the Jewish Standard written by Binyamin Weinreich.

Jewish education in America is facing a crisis.

Ever since the economic meltdown in 2008, publication after publication, from venerable weekly newspaper to personal blog, has declared that the sky is falling, and that day school tuition has reached the point of unaffordability for the average Jewish family. Jewish communities across America finally are doing some soul-searching about their communal priorities and fund allotments in a desperate attempt to keep yeshivah day school a viable educational option for the next generation of students.

But how much are the day schools actually worth?

I say this as a graduate of venerable and prestigious day schools. I got a decent education in both Judaic and secular studies, learned basic textual skills that opened the corpus of Judaism to me, and was exposed to many modes of Jewish thought by various rebbeim. But I also was naturally inclined toward Judaic studies and would use my leisure time to read up on Jewish history and the like. How much of my knowledge of and investment in Judaism came from my educational environment, and how much came from my own personality?

This might sound arrogant, but the truth is that most of the intelligent, knowledgeable products of day schools with whom I’m acquainted are intellectually curious people by nature. They are the people who will make the best of poor educational offerings, learning what they can and picking up the rest on their own. And I know many day school graduates who are practically Jewishly illiterate. They have weak textual skills, little knowledge of Jewish history or sacred books, and little practical halachic knowledge. Worst of all, they have no real love of Judaism, and so Judaism has no value for them.

And there are many Orthodox students who did not attend day schools and yet value Judaism and have a good level of Jewish knowledge, whether from summer camps, after-school programs, their home environment, or somewhere else.

It seems that the students with the most potential will end up with the knowledge and skills they need to be involved members of the Jewish community, with or without the influence of their schools. So what purpose do the day schools serve?

I see two. The first is that they keep our children in a (supposedly) safe, Orthodox-only environment. If the majority of their social interaction is within the Jewish community, then Orthodox children are less likely to form meaningful bonds with anyone outside the Orthodox community who might cause them to stray. The second is that we want our children to know Judaism. If they are to be committed Jews as adults, the thinking goes, they must be given the skills to understand Judaism as children. This means teaching them Bible, Talmud, Jewish history, and other subjects, and teaching secular studies from within an overall framework of Jewish thought and values.

On both counts the schools seem to be failing. In terms of keeping children in an environment where they will be safe from outside influences, the non-charedi Orthodox do this only to a limited extent. While they do not interact much in person with the outside world, at least in the New York area, they certainly absorb much of the surrounding culture, and this dampers the effect of an Orthodox-only social milieu. There is also something to be said for the “forbidden fruit effect” — by treating the world beyond the Orthodox community as a threat, the community incites in its children a curiosity to see what’s so bad. Children who go off to college are not equipped to deal with meeting people who lead fundamentally different lives. They have never bolstered the foundations of their own belief, so it turns out to be easily toppled.

In terms of how students are educated, the failures of the day schools are apparent to anyone who has been through one. Teachers are more concerned with students toeing the establishment line than they are with students growing at a pace appropriate to them, and as a result many students are turned off from Orthodoxy by their school experience. Even the students who do succeed in school often emerge with a technical knowledge of Judaism but no appreciation for it. Halachah alone will not make someone a passionate believer, and many day schools are weak in their curricula for Bible and Jewish thought — when curricula exist.

In the end, my argument comes down to this: according to an Avi Chai survey by Amy L. Sales and Leonard Saxe, “Particularism in the University: Realities and Opportunities for Jewish Life on Campus,” and to Jonathan Ament in “American Jewish Religious Denominations,” somewhere between a quarter and nearly half of Orthodox Students entering college are no longer Orthodox by the time they graduate. (“For example, one-quarter of the students who come to college as Orthodox Jews report that they have changed their denominational identity while at college. About half of these chose Conservative Judaism,” Sales and Saxe write. Ament, meanwhile, adds, “For example, the table indicates that among those who were raised Orthodox, 42% are still Orthodox…”)

The community finally may have started asking how it can make day school tuition low enough to be affordable, but perhaps the more pressing question is whether or not we should be paying for day school in the first place. Jewish education is an investment in the future, and as things stand now, it would seem that it isn’t a very safe one.

Couldn't have said it better myself:).

Monday, March 4, 2013

Charif - But What Can I Do.....

I don't mean to offend anyone with this post. Really. My weakness is that I love people and try to do anything I can not to cause pain or distress. My intention is to convey things as I see them with the hope that it will increase good in the world. If I am wrong - may Hashem and His holy people forgive me...

I learn. A lot. I am not bragging - just stating a fact. I am particularly drawn to sifrei avoda. Books that are intended to guide Jews towards reaching their potential. I want to reach mine and I want to help others reach theirs.

I learn Mesilas Yesharim and Orchos Tzadikim and Tomer Devora and Maharal and Sfas Emes and Sifrei Chabad and Rav Tzadok and Rav Yisrael Salanter and Rav Kook and Rav Charlap. I see who these people were and the heights they reached in their Avodas Hashem [as an earthling looks up at the stars]. Then I look around and feel that there is a tremendous gap between what is expected and what is actually practiced.

Take tefilla. I am not talking about modern shuls. There is nothing to talk about because in my 41 years I have not attended a modern shul where the daily davening was anything more than a drudgery on the level of having to fill up the car with gas or going to the dentist for a cleaning. No emotion but you have to do it....  I am talking about the frum shuls. I watch people rush-in-rush-out. Come late, leave early. Skip parts of the davening. Answer phone calls. People are BORED. Is a man any different after he davened mincha on Tuesday afternoon than he was before mincha on Tuesday afternoon? Hard to believe. But if he isn't - then he hasn't truly davened. Do people feel אשרי יושבי ביתך - that it is a great merit and honor to be able to sit in His house? If they would, then one minute after mincha, shul wouldn't be empty. Does anybody CARE that הללוהו כל מלאכיו - the angels praise Hashem? If we could - wouldn't we cut out almost all of davening. Don't we breath a sigh of relief when there is no tachanun on Monday and Thursday? Then I read a piece Rav Kook writes about tefilla and I am stung by the stark contrast between theory and practice, what should be versus what is. Where is the לב???

Take ahavas yisrael. How many people do you know who really love every Jew? That is a mitzva from the Torah that almost nobody keeps. At best we love a few people we are close to. I know a MILLION people but when I really need a favor done [even a small one] I have to spend a long time wracking my brain decideing who on my short list of dependable not self absorbed people, I should ask. And even then it often doesn't get done. What the Torah expects is that everybody should feel comfortable and confident that even a complete stranger would do anything for you because that is the way of Hashem. Recently, for example, I asked a HUGE talmid chochom I am friendly with to hand over a small note with a name to the gabbai of the shul. He refused "I'll forget". I wonder - is this what Hashem wants? Do we really believe that when we do a chesed it is worth more than a billion dollars?? If somebody was giving out 20 dollar bills don't you think that he would get more attention than someone asking for help cleaning his house for pesach? What is greater - an act of chesed or a few silly dollars??

Belief. Do people REALLY believe. Is G-d as real to them as they are to themselves. There is a mitzva to walk around feeling love of Hashem and fear of Hashem. WHO DOES?? Rav Tzvi Meir Zilberberg. Great. Who else?? It is a standard-applies-to-everyone-mitzva-in-the-Torah. Do people really believe that a second of Torah study will merit them eternal bliss beyond anything this world can offer? If so - how can people spend so much time on so much of the nonsense that most people are focused on.

What bothers me is how little self-awareness people have. Not realizing how distant they are from the ideal in every aspect of life. People think that they are talmidei chachomim when they are ignoramuses, that they are modest when they are arrogant, that they are true baalei chesed when in fact their chesed is self serving. Chesed feels good and people choose chasodim that enhance their good feeling but when it comes to a chesed that doesn't feel good they won't do it. I have a trillion examples but I am trying to keep things concise....

Today I was on the bus and a friend invited me to sit next to him. I was far more interested in how the Ramban explains chazkas shalosh shanim [ע"ש!] as explicated in a geshmak sefer on Bava Basra that I just picked up in the used bookstore on Rechov Meah Shearim [for about 2 American dollars!!:)] but I thought it would be rude to learn so I closed my sefer in order to chat with him. He then proceeded to interrupt our conversation six times with phone calls. Why couldn't he just talk to me for a few minutes without stopping every two minutes. What made it more annoying was that he had some good advice and offered practical help with a project I am working on. Am I not normal because when I speak to someone I try not to interrupt them repeatedly to care of my own business? Why do I feel self-centered when I do show them that I am far more interested in myself than in them? What is even crazier is that I didn't realize how much it bothered me and how offended I was until THIS MINUTE. I am so used to rudeness that I suppress any negative emotions I may be feeling. The other day, a big talmid chochom was at my house asking me for a favor. He did the SAME thing. So I am standing there waiting impatiently for him to finish his conversation so I can get back to my business. I didn't say anything because he wouldn't understand. It is acceptable so what is my problem. Don't I realize?? His phone rang. The world must stop. Even davening must stop. Some people might say that I am hypersensitive. Maybe. Maybe not. But instead of psychoanalyzing the Baal-Hablog a lot more good would be accomplished if people thought about what Hashem wants. What is true gitskeit [goodness]. Even the Rebbe Shlita once described how someone came to him for eitza and interrupted for a significant amount of time in order to answer a phone call. There is a word for that.

It rhymes with "Lutzpah".

Take Rav Moshe Feinstein as a f'rinstance. He explained that he wasn't a smoker [back when everybody was before the health risks were known] because he NEVER PUT ANYTHING IN HIS MOUTH JUST FOR PLEASURE!!! The average Joe [or "Mo"]? EVERYTHING he does is for pleasure. He eats foods he shouldn't, drinks sodas that are only good to clean a stuffed kitchen pipe [I heard that one from a soda drinker who fills his overweight children with the poison], is lazy when he should be moving - all for pleasure. Where ARE we?

People, most people, aren't EMES-DIK. They fool themselves and they fool others. My curse is that I see it so often. Indeed, sometimes, ignorance is bliss.

The baalei mussar would tell me that if I notice it in others it means that I possess some of it in myself. OF COURSE I do!! That is how I know. So this is not about being better than others. I just feel the spiritual dessication that is so rampant and want to break out of it. It is hard when one is surrounded by so much mediocrity. Where people STRIVE for mediocrity. Where people are so attached to their bodies and comfort and preconceived notions about how to act that they stay the same people their whole lives. Oh, to have died, and realized that you never lived....

So sweetest and most-most-most-beloved-friends. If you don't know what I am talking about - then this post wasn't for you. Ignore it. If you feel yourself getting defensive - then again, this post wasn't for you. If you can identify on some level with what I am saying then you are an איש כלבבי.

It goes without saying that there is tons of good in the world. Loads of chesed-tzedaka-and-tefilla. Example - in my small poor neighborhood [poor because people primarily moved here to the boondocks out of yerushalyim for the more affordable housing] over 30 thousand shekel was collected for matanos le-evyonim. Today I was at a sefarim store, and Baruch Hashem, people are learning and writing great sefarim. When I get to the Kotel, I see davening as it should be. LOTS of great things in Klal Yisrael.

But all told - light years away from what the Mesilas Yeshaim describes.

So what is the solution? Learn sifrei avoda and become an emes-e oved. Find friends who are like-minded. Engage in introspection. Connect to a tzaddik who personifies the true Torah personality. Ask yourself how much the transient western culture has a hold on you at the expense of eternal values.

There is soooooo much more to say. ישמע חכם ויוסיף לקח.

Love to all and apologies if I hurt anyone. Anyway, I wasn't talking about you. I was talking about the other guy:).

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Listen And Give Your Soul Life

I know it's after Purim - but it's still a worthwhile listen [not me], here.

Two Sides Of The Coin

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh - my inbox. Sometimes I receive such SILLY things. Other times - blasphemy. Other times - well, you have an inbox also so you know exactly what I am talking about.

Recently I received two items on a female knesset member who translated an Aramaic story from the gemara into Hebrew on the podium of the Knesset and extracted life lessons. She has a Masters in Talmud and claims that the Talmud has positively changed her life. A non-religious woman yet! What a Kiddush Hashem!!

N-O-N-S-E-N-S-E!:) The Talmud says [in Tractate Sabbath 31a] that if one doesn't have fear of Heaven it is better that he [or she] NOT LEARN. She is a member of a radically secular party whose yearning is to see yeshivos close down and to secularize the country as much as they can. So what good is the little learning she does??


I received another item from the official magazine of the OU. The person who sent me the item entitled it "Kiddush Hashem". I LOVE hearing about about Kiddushei Hashem. Nu - what was it?

A girl who was described as "Charedi" decided that she is going to rebel against her family, EVERY significant Rov in the last 65 years, her religious education and serve in the Israeli army. And serve she did!


The Chazon Ish [and many others] said that it is better to DIE [יהרג ואל יעבור] than for a girl to serve in Tzahal. The standards of tzniyus there make it a place unfit for a Jewish girl. Where, pray tell, is the Kiddush Hashem??

Ahhhhhhh - when she was in the army she insisted on davening and keeping Shabbos and wearing a skirt even though it was difficult. She also inspired others in her own small way to do the same.

It's like I walk into MacDonald's and eat a cheeseburger while wearing my tallis and tefillin [not after shkiya:)] and say a dvar torah at the table, while wearing a shaatnez garment. The whole thing is "shaatnez"!!

She shouldn't be there in the first place. Why does the article glorify her??

Ahhhhhhhhhh-  my inbox.....


But what would the Holy Reb Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev say??

Maybe the following: "Master of the Universe. Look at your daughters! One has trouble keeping some of the daily laws but feels a visceral connection to your Torah. Doesn't the Talmud Yerushalmi say in Your Name "Halevai the should leave me and keep learning my Torah and its Light will bring them back". This daughter of yours may come back. And another daughter - she woke up earlier than everyone else to daven to You. She suffered much inconvenience for two years in keeping your commandments in an often hostile environment where almost nobody else was. מי כעמך ישראל."

I think he has a point:).

Just Say "I Love You"

Between mincha and maariv today I was talking to a friend [a Belzer chossid] and the conversation turned to R' Shlomo Carlebach. He is a huge fan. He said "Who else would just come up to you and say 'I love you?!'"

I couldn't help but agree.....

Friday, March 1, 2013


Rav Genechovski was once preparing a get. The father of the woman remarked: "Not only do I have the anguish of seeing my daughter divorced but I also have to suffer a significant monetary loss."

When the Rov heard that he started to cry and cry. His wife said that she has never ever seen him cry so much.

אגן הסהר ח"ב עמ' 16