Monday, December 29, 2008

Frog Joke

My friend told me this. He gets the credit.

Three frogs were sitting on lily pads. One said, "Ribbit". The second one said, "Ribbit". The third frog said, "Ribbit, ribbit", and the second frog took out a gun and blasted the third one right off his lily. The 1st frog was stunned and asked, "Hey, why'd you do that?"
The 2nd frog answered and said, "He knew too much."

Sufganiot

Okay, so why do they put that jelly inside the jelly donuts?
Is it only because that's what they are called? Because if that's the only reason, isn't it time we told them that we don't like that jelly? And they should just be called 'donuts'?
Also, who in the world likes custard? Why do they feel the urge to fill the donuts with anything besides for dough???

Blogging

So most of you know by now, that I haven't blogged recently. Which puts me in a pickle.
(For the next part, you must read this aloud. You start the first word on a high note, and drag it out a bit, and you say the first clause, kinda bouncing along, gemara-esque):
If I was blogging regularly, like every day or so, then I wouldn't need to concern myself so much with the stories and thoughts I would be spewing forth. Some would be inspirational. Others amusing. And still others utterly pathetic.
(For the next part, you must read this aloud. You start the first word on a low note this time, and drag it out along with the second word, and you 'bounce' at the word before the comma, the same as you did before, and this is also gemara-esque)
But now that I am only posting like... once a month, I don't know what to write for you now.
Aren't you expecting an amazing post, since I haven't given you anything for a while, and it could be that this will have to last you until the spring? (Gasp!! Did he just say Spring??? no, I'm just joking. I'm pretty sure you'll here from me before the ice (well, your ice. It doesn't snow where I am now....) all melts.)
If I write for you just some thought that popped into my head recently, you'll say: Hey! I checked on Yossi's blog, and all I got was this lousy post (and this lousy T-shirt (I had to throw that in there))!?!
So that's my pickle, basically. One option would be to try to post a lot over the next week or two, but with small, (seemingly) unimportant posts, so every time I come online, I don't need to have a Super Post for you. But that doesn't seem like a good plan.

For now, be on your toes. I'll try to post a few things. Because just chanuka alone could take up pages and pages of posts. My mivtzoim stories. My feelings about one little flame lighting up a lot of darkness (ok, that's not really that original. But it was the best I could come up with at 1:30 in the morning...)

So enjoy your last day of Chanuka, finish getting in all those donuts- hey! just thought of something I had wanted to share with you. I'll be back in the next post.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Excuses

There is a joke I heard recently.
There are three excuses for a bochur.
  1. I watched it on a plane.
  2. That's how it grew in.
  3. She's my cousin.
An actual Ra'ya (that's 'proof' in Hebrew, but it's hard to transliterate) to this is from last week's parsha.
When Ya'akov came to the well, he saw Rochel, and it says he kissed her.
Rashi explains it was because "they were cousins".
(But that didn't stop them from getting married, did it???)

Matisyahu

A little while ago, Matisyahu the rapper came to our yeshiva to daven shacharis. Of course, nobody in mesivta knew about it, because he was davening in Zal. I happened to see him when I was looking for my gemara.
When seder started for mesivta, after breakfast, I told my guys that I learn with, "By the way, you know Matisyahu is here, right?"
One of the bochurim got really excited. He asked to leave, but I told him we had seder. He ran off anyway, telling me he'd be back soon.
A few minutes later he came back, huffing, and a little sweaty.
"Did you see him?" I asked.
"Nope. I went into zal, but they told me I just missed him!!"
"Then why are you so out of breath?"
"Well, I went around through the parking lot and I had to open the gate for this guy who didn't know the code."
-At this point, I already knew. The irony was to such an extent, that it had to be true. For humor's sake.-
I then smiled to myself, and asked him seriously, "Oh. And what did he look like?"
"I don't know... he had a high hair line, and a beard like this...."
I smiled at that point, and let it sink in.
"OHHH, noooo!!! Was that matisyahu!!?????"
"Yep."
He cried out in disbelief. "And I wanted to talk to him and shake his hand!!!!"

That was the best irony I was Zocheh to witness in a long time.

Confused at the Kosel

When I was at the Kosel, on my trip to Israel, I was a bit confused and depressed at what I saw. Or better, at what I didn't see.
I expected to see hundreds of different guys with long peyos tapping people on the shoulder and saying, "Rabbi, don't you recognize me?" I mean, that's how every single story ends, so I thought I'd get to see one in real life.
After my initial dissapointment, I thought maybe I should tap someone on the shoulder and say the line, just to see how he would react.
I didn't, though.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Back to Klipa'fornia

So, my little away time from yeshiva is finished. I fly back in a few hours.
I'm a little disappointed that I couldn't finish typing out for you the last days of my trip to Israel. If I'm at a computer with Internet, and I just happen to have my notebook with me, and I have nothing important to do, then I'll finish it up, bli neder.

I'm going back to yeshiva with a new, invigorating chayos in my Shlichus.
With Hashem's help, and the Rebbe's Koichos, we'll be Poy'el (that word looks funny, but say it fast and you'll know what I mean) a tremendous amount on the bochurim.

I hope to farbreng more with the other shluchim, and become a closer-knit group.
I hope to learn a lot more, and for more time, then what I had been doing before Tishrei. Not that it wasn't good, just it could always be better. I'm actually going to try a little Sicha Marathon. I had thought at one point that I could finish the whole Likkutei Sichos this year. I mean, for every parsha, that would mean around 20 sichos a week.
Yes, I actually thought I could, for a little bit. My mashpia just laughed.
So instead he suggested I take on 5 a week, to complete the whole K'rach from Tes-Vov until Chof. I tried bargaining up to 10. He insisted I stick with 5. There were weeks last year that I learned close to 10 a week, but then again, I was a lot less busy than I am now on Shlichus (outside of seder, I mean). So we'll see if I can pull it off, and win the $50 bucks from my mashpia... no, just kidding. we didn't bet any money, but oh, it's on!!!

Who am I?

I have thought about this question quite often. Usually, I consider this question as it would be posed to a friend of mine. How would he describe me? What kind of person does he think I am? What does he see when he looks at me?
I wonder how my different friends would answer that question. I feel confident, however, that any answer they gave would be incorrect. I do not think they could describe in two words. Or five. Or even ten. I also wonder what one word they would describe me with, if they could.
A friend might say I'm smart- no, I'm not. I make stupid mistakes, just like anybody else.
A friend might say I'm funny- not always. I know when I'm annoying someone.
Any description you could give, I'll wiggle my way around it, and prove that somehow you cannot figure me out. You cannot describe me, even in one hundred words. You cannot put me into this category or that one.
Even if someone does seem to describe me perfectly (I have as yet to hear it), then I know that I would go at great lengths just to prove him wrong.
If someone doesn't think I'm kind, I'll show him I can be. If someone thinks I am messy, I'll show him I can be clean and organized.

Why do I feel this way? Is it arrogance mixed with ignorance and naivety, to think that I'm so...undefinable? Why do I feel that there is so much more....me, that my friends do not see, and do not know about me, that I can disprove any assumptions they may have about me as a person?
I am not so sure.

But if I don't think my peers can correctly assess me, describe me, and categorize me, then how would I go about describing myself, if I know me so well, better than anyone else? Why should I be disappointed in them if I also fail at the very thing I'm asking for? So can I describe myself, and if so, how?

I think to answer that, I may need to delve deeper into what it is we can use do define ourselves.
In a certain movie, one character told the other, "It's not who you are on the inside, but what you do, that defines us." Or something like that.
Is this true?
Chassidus says it is; but only halfway. Only for when we do good. Not for when we do bad. For this, Chassidus gives us a valuable crutch.

The Alter Rebbe in Tanya brought forth a revolutionary concept about the way we look at our actions and conduct. He explained that the bad which one does, chas v'shalom, does not define him as a bad person. It is only a result of one's Nefesh HaBahamis, who is certainly not the real us. Before Chassidus, every sinner was a bad person, and cut himself from G-d with every sin he did. Chassidus teaches that no matter how far away we get from Hashem, we always have our Nefesh HaElokis, and therefore are always connected to the Essence of G-d Himself. Everyone, then, is a good person, it's just sometimes a person's Nefesh HaBahamis conceals this fact.
Therefore, our actions do not define us, at least when we do bad, chas v'shalom.
Our actions do define us when we do good, though. Any good thought or action we do is the real us.
Perhaps, the only definition and differentiation we can ascribe to people is according to how much good they do. How much of who they are do they reveal?

Which brings me back to almost where I started at the beginning of this post. The best way to describe me would be by how much of me comes out in what I do. So of course it is difficult to define me, because how is anyone supposed to know how big of a Yetzer Tov I have? Or how good of a person I can be if not for my evil inclination?

Of course, even if this could be done, it only helps me to understand how to describe and put your finger on someone based on his actions of good or bad. What about being smart, funny, popular, organized, courageous, patient, or any other part of a person's character, that can't be labeled 'good' or 'bad'? 'Mitzvah' or 'Aveirah'? How do you determine if this is all the smarts he has, or whether he is a genius, but you don't see it? Can you say that since you don't see it, he doesn't deserve to be defined as such?

I don't know. And I don't really have an answer.

After everything I wrote, I think I can at least say that everyone deep down wishes others could look at them and see more, and everyone knows that it is all there inside of them, and looks for the time that they will be able to show the world who they really are...whatever that may be.

So if I hope others to look at me, and not judge me based on my faults, but to realize that there may be more they are not seeing, then for sure that is how I must look at others. I will admit, I often judge people when I shouldn't, and in ways that I shouldn't, and then I'll see how wrong I am later. I must not be too hasty in throwing around labels and adjectives about people, if I want to be treated in the same way.


I guess I'm ending with the theory that nobody is describable. Nobody is definable. We are all mysteries- to those around us, and sometimes also to ourselves.

Insanity

As I was casually perusing the freezer today, looking for a nutritious, yet satisfying meal for my lunch, the burritos automatically caught my eye.
Alright, I thought to myself, I'll have one.
As I was sifting through the different varieties our wonderful freezer offered, I quickly found the 'Cheese and Pizza' burrito. I smiled to myself, but at the same time swallowed back a tear. There are starving children in Africa, and here I am, about to enjoy such a delicacy. Many don't even have bread or water! I pushed these sad thoughts from my mind, and was about to close the freezer door, when something caught my attention.
It was a burrito. Not just any, though, oh, no. The flavor it proudly boasted was 'Red Hot Volcano' bean burrito.
I must have stood there, stunned, with my head in the freezer for quite some time, because when I finally came to my senses and shook my head clear of the confusing thoughts that were dancing around in my head, little flecks of ice were propelled off the ends of my hair.
RED HOT VOLCANO FLAVORED BEAN BURRITO???!!!!!
Who's stupid idea was that?

It's pure, 100% insanity.
I don't know why anyone would buy it or eat it. (Of course, it was in my freezer, but maybe we bought it just to help spread the wealth around, not that we actually intended to eat any of them)

Monday, October 20, 2008

I AM VICTORIOUS!! WORLD HEAR ME ROAAAAAAR!!!

That's right.
I made ravioli for lunch.
Not what you were expecting me to say?
Well, it was a small step for a man, and one giant leap for mankind.
It was the first time I boiled water successfully, thank you very much.
Oh, and I don't mean 'first time successfully' meaning that there were other times I tried to boil water, but to no avail. This was my first attempt. And obviously I had the superior intellect and skills necessary to accomplish this daring and fantastic feat on my first try.

Have a good Yom Tov.
May we dance hakafos with the Rebbe, and in the Beis HaMikdash!!

Scoundrels and No-goodnicks...

What kind of people would go onto private property and destroy a sign showing a difference in opinion to them?
In this great country of ours, can't we let others have a different opinion, and respect them and their property for it?
Apparently, no.
Obama supporters finally could stand our McCain/Palin sign no longer. After six days of enduring raw, heart-wrenching pain and offense from driving by and seeing a sign standing in our yard, they could bear it no longer.
We found our poor sign folded up and thrown down the hill when we came back after a chol hamoed trip yesterday.
Of course, we put it back, and (don't tell them) we anticipated the attacks, and have an extra sign in our garage, just in case.

What has gotten into liberals these days?
Liberals are all about accepting others, like radical Islamists, or (not that I'm putting them in the same category) gay rights. But it seems that they cannot accept another's opinion, if it differs with their own. The hippies movement in the 60's was about free speech and especially students' rights to protest the war.
But now they don't care about free speech, if it's not their own.
It's too much to ask for respect for my own opinion. They must go out and destroy any signs they disagree with.

Now, in Crown Heights, people do a lot of sign-tearing, because a sign does or doesn't have Yechi on it, for example. Whether that's right or wrong, I don't know, but the signs in protest are on public property, like telephone wire poles.

But don't expect me not to pull out a gun if you step onto my property with ill-intentions of taking away my first amendment.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Ensuring the future of democracy...

That's right. I just voted. Or rather, my family did. And even Sarah Palin came to make sure we voted her way.
I won't say how I voted, though.
In California, we get to vote on a whole slew of issues and propositions.
Like abortion and gay marriage, to name the biggies on the ballot.
I'm against both, by the way.
Everyone make sure to vote, McCain needs our support!
I mean, that is, if I did vote republican...
But seriously, don't me misguided by all the polls. A certain outspoken rightist political commentator says that most people lie to pollsters, just to seem cool, and vote Obama like everyone else, and also so as not to appear racist....
I've got a lot to say about politics, but there are quite enough news sites and blogs to bore you, you don't need my help.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Random Tidbits of Useless Knowledge of My Life, Currently

  • I got a flu shot (I'm fine. You don't need to panic. It didn't even hurt. That much. Gosh. Does someone have a tissue? No...no. I'll be fine. Just give me a sec, okay? I've just got something in my eye...)
  • I went to a birthday farby at a friend's house. (Ha! Got you there, you liar. You have no friends where you live!!! And you'd be right. Nobody my age in this great city of mine who I could have a farbrengen with. But I could drive twenty minutes away to the craziest liberal city ever, didn't think of that, did you?)
  • I've been contemplating messing with my family's digital picture frame which usually they turn on for shabbos, yom tov, etc. Now, it's filled with a bunch of pictures of a whole bunch of random occasions and trips. I was thinking I would take really funny pics of myself, making faces, etc., and put them on instead. Imagine reading a book, and looking up to see me making a huge monkey face at you!! My sib's are down with it, too. We just need to get going before Shabbos, and not raise my parent's suspicions...
  • I went to the eye doctor for a regular exam. Of course, it wasn't good enough just to give me a higher prescription, she's got to check my eyes out for horrible diseases (Baruch Hashem, Kenaina Hara, I'm good, (pu pu pu (It would be indecent for me to write that as poo poo poo.))) (Hey, look, I just did the triple parentheses!!! I'm unstoppable!!), at which my eyes after being doused in chemicals, got blurry and I couldn't read or see a darn thing without getting a headache. I asked her if it was safe for me to drive home. "Sure", she said.
Wrong. It was quite an experience to get back home.

Comment to previous post

I once read something this guy wrote. It went as follows:
When I was 18, I couldn't believe how stupid my father was.
When I was 23, I couldn't believe how much smarter he became in five short years.

If you don't get it, then sheesh!!

I love my parents

I do. I really do. Just some things they do....
Something that I'm talking about is how they'll just throw out personal information to the most random people.
The cashier starts hearing about my flu shot later, and the pharmacist learns how three of us have dentist appointments later, since we're all only home for such-and-such amount of time, and we have to fit in all of our appointments...
These people don't care that I go to school in Los Angeles, and that I've been there before. They just want to know how we'll be paying for the dry cleaning; cash or credit.
Oh well. I find it pretty funny. And I guess it shows how my parents are proud of us, and want to tell even the banker and the gas station attendant when my next haircut is.
Does this happen to anyone else?

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Sukkos Poem

On this Holiday of Huts,
We serve lots of cold cuts,
Eating outside of the sukka is absurd-

Hold the esrog very soft,
Lest the Pitam fall off,
and I'll have my Lulav shaken, please, not stirred!

Poor cute little furry woods creatures.

Poor cute little furry woods creatures!
On our way back from shul, we saw a squirrel that was run over by a car, in the middle of the street. It was so sad.
What I noticed right away, however, was that there was a big nut behind him (I want to assume it was a 'he', and not a 'she', because then maybe it was a 'mommy', and that's saaaad.) and he was curled around a nut he was holding to his tummy ('stomach' is not as befitting a P.C.L.F.W.C. as 'tummy' is).
Which teaches you one thing, ladies and gents:
Don't go after your Taivos.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

My Trip To Israel, Part 6

MONDAY, DAY 6

We met 5 Israeli soldiers who would join us for the rest of our trip.
Then we went to Nachal David, near Ein Gedi, and hiked up to some waterfalls. It was deathly hot outside. I must have drunk 10 liters of water!
Then we went to the Yam HaMelach (a guys-only part) where you can float! I did, too. The salty water started burning my body all over when I stayed in for a long time. What kills, though, is to get the water in your eyes, let me tell ya'.
After not properly washing off the nasty water (feeling, not looking. the Sea was gorgeous.) and sweat from earlier, we went to the famous fortress- Matzada. We took the cable car up to the top, walked around a bit, got a tour, then walked down, since the area was closing. It is an incredible story about what happened there.
On to the Bedouins!!
In case you missed a nice sandy hard desert floor from home, here was your chance! Our tent was the "jordanian tent", far far away from the other tents, where other Birthright groups were also experiencing the Bedouins. (we were far from them for tznius reasons.) The ceiling of the tents are made from goat hair, and could cost $80,000!! We ate on cushions on the ground. We had special kosher food. It was basically shwarma on the ground. They spoke to us about their origins, customs, etc. A friend of mine pointed out that we could also make a ton of money, by inviting goyim to our houses and showing them how we make kiddush, blow shofar, do lulav, etc.
Late in the night they had a big drum circle, but we didn't really participate since guys and girls from the other (fry) groups were dancing together in the middle. But later, we kind of had a special time for us guys to drum. I didn't really sleep that night. Let's just say that the Bed-o-uins aren't exactly a Bed-o-roses! We had a small bonfire, next to our tent, and we sang some songs. Inside the tent, it was boiling hot, but outside it was the cold desert air, and freezing. The mattresses we had were two inches thick.
Most of the other groups seemed to enjoy the experience. It's a shame that they only bring them to goyish bedouins, and not to some Jewish hippie type place with drums, and the exact same thing, just a Jewish feeling and experience, but with the same camp-out/drum circle/shwarma from the ground.

My Trip To Israel, Part 5

SUNDAY, DAY 5

Sunday morning, we left the North to go visit and explore the many other lands Israel has to offer. We went 1st to the holy city of Tzfas, high in the mountains. Tzfas is an ancient city, with shuls and houses from many famous Kabalists and rabbis. We visited one shul (which legend has it that it was sent in a hurricane from Italy) where there is a Sefer Torah that when taken out not in its proper to time to read, the person dies within that year!!
Even the air is special. Our tour guide said that we should take a big whiff of the holy air when we got off the bus. I was in the back of the bus, so when I got off and walked behind the bus, I took a big long whiff. But it was right in the bus's exhaust!!!
Not cool.
Oh, and there are a ton of steps! We visited the art galleries and candle factory. I walked to the 'Tzfati headquarters'. We had lunch in a restaurant where the tables were sliding downhill! I went into the huge Breslov Shul.
Then we went down towards the ancient cemetery. First, of course, I took a ritual dip in the Arizal's mikveh. It says that anyone who toivels there won't die without first doing Tshuva. It wasn't as terribly cold as people said it might be. But then again, it was midday and in the summer.
I walked around the cemetery, seeing many famous kvarim, like Chana and her 7 sons, the Beis Yosef, the Ari, and R' Pinchas ben Yair. His is a large circular plot, with a big tree in the middle, surrounded by a low wall. Again, you are supposed to walk around it seven times, and say Kapitel Aleph, at least according to a a local walker I found.

Next we went on the road towards... Yerushalaim!!
I was so excited, and everyone was singing as we neared the city. Any song we knew with the word Yerushalaim in it- we sang it! We drove alongside an Egged bus for a while (egged does not mean vandalized. It's pronounced egg-ed) and these kids saw us waving to them, so we started a funny- faces/faces -pressed -up -against -the -glass war with them. Because we were tourists, our whole time in Israel we kept going up to random people, and asking to take their picture, or just high-fiving their kids, or randomly putting their little boys on our shoulders.
As we got closer to Yerushalaim, my heart was beating faster and faster. I was so giddy with excitement, it was hard to contain. I don't remember the last time I really felt that way.
Yerushalaim has a big new bridge that you cross under to enter the city. It looks like a giant splinter. Seriously.
We drove to the King Solomon Hotel. The rooms weren't the grandest, but the food was good. After dinner, we headed out, to walk towards the Old City, and of course- The Kosel.
We had circle time first (we do that a lot), and had an opening ceremony for Yerushalaim.
When we entered the old city, we started singing niggunim. Everyone we passed seemed surprised and amused. We were definitely making a scene. (But a good one.) But we didn't care. We had one goal in mind. We finally got to the last corner before we would be able to turn and see the Kosel. We singing Prazos Taishev Yerushalaim. I was so excited. I wish there was a better word than excited! I finally saw from the distance, the Kosel. But first we had to pass through security, which seemed like a splash of cold water for our enthusiasm. we continued singing, while standing impatiently in line for the metal detector. After we all finally got through (this one kid carries around like four pocket knives), Shloime G. started singing Yehi Ratzon, and we sang Sheyibaneh Beis HaMikdash as loudly as possible and with tons of Chayos, as we danced and marched our way down to the Kosel. We were only 40 guys, and there were hundreds of people there, but everyone turned to stop, stare, and clap with us as we made our way down.
I kissed the wall and pressed my palms and body up against it. It's hard to hug a wall. I put my note in a crack, and stared up at the holiest place we have. I couldn't help but think that it was smaller than I had assumed.
We had a guided tour under the Muslim houses, in the famous archaeological tunnels. Pretty amazing stuff.

My Trip To Israel, Part 4

SHABBOS, DAY 4
I'm writing this Tuesday evening, so I hope I can remember most of the details.
For shabbos we stayed at Chispin. The shul's lights were basically off, so there was minimal light to daven by. The dancing and singing at L'Cha Doidi was very moving.
Friday night I went to sleep around 11:00 or 12:00, so I got a good sleep that night, finally.
Shabbos day, during the meal, we had a guest speaker. He works for N'siv (orNtziv) which is an organization that tries to teach Yiddishkeit to (mainly Russian) goyim in the army, and try to convince them to convert. I know! We all had our suspicions about this group, but the frum guy who spoke to us explained the reasoning of the Rabbanim in Israel.
  1. The idea that we don't try to get people to convert isn't so Pashut. It itself is a machlokes.
  2. These people, many are from Jewish grandparents, etc, and are in fact Jewish
  3. It is dangerous for the Israeli public, since everyone assumes they are Jewish, but really they aren't. This is a big problem for marriage.
Do I agree then? I'm not sure.
Later in the day, a teacher and head of some sort of Yeshiva organization gave us a 'shiur' about...we're not really sure what. He is a big Zionist, and basically they have a problem since they kind of ran out of goals now. They can't promote more settling the land of Israel, because of the border problems, etc., and giving away land. His speech was about how the hard times now are part of the Geulah (and how Medinat Yisroel is the start of Moshiach...) That's basically the most I understood, or cared to pay attention to.
(My friends developed the tried and true method to listening to Birthright speakers:
  1. Nod.
  2. Smile.
  3. And clap.)
Motzei Shabbos, we drove to Tiveria, on the beautiful Kineret. We visited the Rambam's kever, where nearby are the Sh'la and the Rambam's father, and some Tanaim and Amaroim.
The boardwalk in Tiveria is a cool, hip, place, and we took a cruise on a boat that was basically a floating dancefloor. There were huge speakers, and our DJ was Eric Shlita, or something like that. We moved and grooved to some pumping Jewish music. There were a bunch of bongo drums, which this stoner from the crew led us in a drum circle.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Home!!

I made it! Back home for the yom tovim. I have completed 40 days of my shlichus so far in los Angeles. No, I'm not counting. That would be immature. It's just really easy to figure out, since I started the first day of elul, and through Yom Kippur= 40. That's all.
I've got a lot to do now that I'm home. And now that I have internet. But I'll try to be faithful to ya'll and post when I get the chance, or get in the mood.
So keep a watch on my blog, 'cause I'll definitely be posting more often than I did the last month and a half... and of course, if you know anyone who would enjoy reading my stuff, 7 readers would totally be a landmark and goal I could really be proud of. (I already got the sixth, a fellow shliach of mine. Everybody say hi)
Good Shabbos.
Good Yom Tov.

Oh. Today is called "G-d's day". We were supposed to get up early and learn Torah. I got up early and flew.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

My Trip to Israel, part 3

DAY 3, Friday
(I don't remember, but I'm almost positive I actually wrote this up like Sunday night or even Monday...)
I woke up at 6, again. This morning we went to the Lebanese border, in Misgav Am. It is on a mountaintop overlooking Southern Lebanon. In the village closest to Israel, only Chezbollah terrorists or Chezbollah-funded institutions are there. Many houses are not used for living, but for arms warehouses and firing platforms. That's why no windows have glass- so they can shoot at us. We could see some UN buildings, sitting pleasantly on a hill in Lebanon across the fence, not really doing anything. At the moment, they have Indonesian troops. Actually, what they are doing now is removing Israeli mines in that area, making it easier for Chezbollah to come through if they try invading again. The people in Misgav Am, and Shaba Farms, and the nearby area, are not worried for their safety so much. The Chezbolah won't attack unless told to by their leader, who is backed by Iran. Iran's mission, according to a speaker there, is t o get to Saudi Arabia, and to do that, first they need to go through Israel.
We were given a fascinating speech by this older, Chevra-man who served in the army, and lived in Misgav Am. "I'm not a pacifist!" was the biggest understatement he said. He had us rolling with his blunt views on Lebanon and the Muslim's Global War to conquer all nations and submit them to Islam. He said that just two weeks ago, he pointed out a house to some tourists, where Chezbollah were firing rockets from earlier in the year. After a minute, 3 figures appeared on that rooftop, looking back at them! It is a tense area, but relatively safe since all the terrorists listen when told not to attack, unlike the PLO, etc. Still, I couldn't help but imagine how I should react incase we heard gunfire.
We then went rafting down the Jordan River, in Kfar Blum, which was fun and relaxing. We shouted out "shalom" and spoke with all the other boaters, as we passed. Of course, being chabadniks, we sang songs about Moshiach with the boaters, and had a farby on the river.
Then we stopped at a little mall in Chatzur. I think it was near Kiryat Shemona?
Then we went to Amuka, where Yonatan Ben Uziel is buried. They say it is a segula for a shidduch, to daven there. Upstairs, is a blue dome, which we heard rumors about walking around it 7 times... And all over, people had tied bags or strings or tichels, as segulos also. Even though there are signs from Rabannim that it isn't a segula and you shouldn't. We heard a story how a girl had taken a picture there, and that year got married. Later, with her new husband, they were going through pictures, and a guy in the pic that she took there was her husband!!! So we all had our cameras ready. Alas, there weren't too many elgible women. The one lady I did see that I managed to get in a picture, later we found her chatting with one of our Israeli tour guides!! Huh, huh!?!?!
There is a little picnic area down the hill, and a sign that says it's a picnic area looks like a matzevah. so we thought it would be funny if we got out siddurim and started shuckling near it, and put pebbles on top, but we didn't have time to do it.
Driving back to our motel for Shabbos, we passed the Kineret. The scenery here is absolutely breath-takingly gorgeous!
Oh. When we were up on the army base near Lebanon, we couldn't see the Mediteranian, since it was so cloudy. We'll probably be able to see it later, though. I hope.

My Trip To Israel, Part 2

DAY 2
(again, it's what I wrote down that night)
I woke up at 6:00 AM. Had about 2.5 - 3 hours of sleep. We davened, ate breakfast (with some other guests staying at our motel (we had no idea they'd be together with us for some parts of the day, like breakfast today, trust me)) and got onto the bus.
Today is: Golan Heights Day. There are 20,000 Jews in the Golan. I think either 20 or 40,000 goyim, and 40,000 cows!! There used to be 1 traffic light, but now there are none.
We went hiking down to the Gilabon and Devorah Waterfalls, near Kazrin. The hike was pretty intense. We did it for like 3 hours. I swam around in the Gilabon Waterfall. Pretty cool. We chilled out in a cave with bats halfway through the hike. It's good I had brought a 1.5 liter bottle of water, or else... Chas V'Shalom. We were all really tired and smelly and sweaty, when we finally left, to go eat lunch.
After lunch, we visited an old village of a Rabbi Bumi, and a shul where it's possible that the authors of the Talmud Yerushalmi lived and learned. Then we went to a woman's house, who lived in Elonei HaBashan, about a stone's throw (maybe for my governator, but not really for me) from the border with Syria. Her 17 year old son was murdered in a Yeshiva somewhere in Israel. He and 3 others were in the kitchen, when terrorists dressed as soldiers came in, armed to the teeth. One bochur had a gun, but used his 2 seconds instead to jump to the door which led to the dining room where 100 bochurim were enjoying their shabbos meal, to lock the door. All 4 bochurim were killed. This lady wrote a children's book to help teach how to cope with loss. She was inspired to write it from a dream where she saw exactly what to write....it was a little strange.
We then went to Eli Rom, where we watched in a movie theater a 24-minute documentary about the tank battle in the Golan during the Yom Kippur War of 1973, and how the 77th Battalion of the 7th Brigade defeated the Syrians, even though the Syrians outnumbered them 5 to 1, and were better equipped and had better technology. All the footage and radio were authentic. It was quite moving.
Then we went to the top of Har Bental, where there used to be an army base. Normally it provides an incredible view of the Golan and Syria, but tonight we were literally inside a cloud.
I'm starting to feel a sense of beauty and love and appreciation for this incredible country. I"d write more about my feelings, but I'm way too tired.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

My Trip To Israel, Part 1

(I'm typing up what I wrote down in Israel, throughout my trip. The first nights, I wrote immediately that night, but as the trip went on, it got harder. The last half, I wrote on the plane ride back. There is a lot I want to add, but here is my basic diary of what happened.)
Day One

It is about 1:00 AM. Israeli time. If I had slept any in the past 30-some hours (the on-again off-again naps in the airplane seat do not count!), I would be able to tell you what time it is in New York, or Cali. So you'll just have to do the math instead, 'cause I haven't slept.
I made it to the airport before the 9:00 PM-if-you-come-a-second-later-you-are-not-going-to-Israel deadline. I excitedly chatted with my friends who I hadn't seen in a few months.
We made it past security and to our gate, with about two hours left before boarding. Great.
Over 10 hours on a plane. Can life get any better? No matter which position I tried, I couldn't get into a good sleep. Every 10 minutes, for a bout 2 minutes, was what I had going for me.
It was cool to see the bochurim making minyanim, doing mivtzoim, and making themselves at home in the back of the plane, with the complimentary wines for L'chaims. It was very heimish.
When we arrived at Ben Gurion, I was so nervous and excited. ISRAEL!! ISRAEL!! I just kept repeating that as I made my way through Passport Control. Surprisingly, there was no Customs that we needed to go through. But we didn't complain. I got my Amigo phone (and the fanny pack) and plugged in some numbers. I waited with my luggage. I kept looking and staring around me.
We met our tour guides (is there an Israeli guide who can't play instruments?) and heard a bunch of rules from a few different Birthright representatives.
We got onto our bus, after Maariv in the airport shul, and drove from Tel Aviv, north to the Golan, to a place called Chispin, where we'll be headquartered for the next four days. Simple rooms, but clean. And I heard that the shower is good, so I better get going.
On the bus ride from the airport, Eliad our guide told us that all the green lights we saw to our right (going up K'vish Shesh) were for mosques.
There were lots of lights.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Wow!!

I hope it's healthy to be extremely busy.
The first week of my shlichus was really hectic and stressful. We've got to give out jobs and assign tasks, and take care of so many little things, to get up and running, to turn this mesivta into one huge, awesome, chassidish machine.
It was just really crazy.
And something bad that came up is the fact that I don't have internet!!!
So I can't share my Israel pics with all the guys I went with.
I can't write to you about the amazing time I had in Israel.
I can't write to you about my shlichus.
I know, I know. Yossi, you're doing it right now. But you know what I mean.

By the way, it's an insult if a boy here said I have the voice of Pumba and the facial structure of an Oompa Loompa, right? I wasn't really sure how to respond when a boy I learn with told me what his friend thought of me.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Israel

Incredible.

I wrote down a basic outline of what I did and what went down, while I was there. I don't know if I'll have a computer in L.A. If I do, stay tuned, obviously, because I've got tons to tell you about my trip, and probably about everything that will be happening on my shlichus.
I leave in a few hours to the airport. For a five hour flight. After just getting back at five in the morning from a 12 hour flight.
Happy Labor Day, and if you're in the Heights, stay off the streets until the parade is over. As my old menahel used to say: the parade is sakanos nefashos mamash, begashmius u'bruchnios!

And again, my trip was absolutely fantastic. The best trip of my life.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

So there I was...

So there I was in bed, this morning. I didn't want to sleep in too late, so I was a little anxious about waking up in time. There was no clock in my room. I rolled over, and in my dream (I'm serious about this. Not making it up) I asked this guy what time it was. He replied that it was 11 am.
11 am!!! I jumped out of bed, and woke up my bro. "Hey, I think it's 11 o'clock!!" He started to rise. I left the room and checked what time it was.
7:15 am.
Oh.

Moral of the story: Never listen to people in your dreams if you want the accurate answer. It may very well turn out to be a nightmare, instead of a dream, and they're out to get ya'.

Just in case of time travel

I was thinking that it would be extremely important and useful for me to study and remember the dates and times of all major eclipses, starting like 1,000 years ago, just in case I go back in time, and need to prove I'm a sorcerer.
I can't believe I haven't done so, yet. Ya'll have already, I'm sure, right?

Monday, August 18, 2008

Finished with camp

That's right. Sadly, I'm done with CGI manalapan. It was a really awesome summer, and I'm already thinking of going back. And if you live in manalapan, freehold, deal, long branch, east brunswick, alberon, edison, marlboro or anywhere else nearby, make sure to send your kids there next summer!!

Wii update: I played Wii only once. It was in Six Flags. It was for two minutes. I had to shoot down some floating boxes or something, and it was pretty lame, actually. Still, the curse is broken. I got my Wii.

On the last day of camp, some campers were crying, including one from my bunk. I felt so sad for him, and proud at the same time, that I had that good of an impression on him and made camp that much fun. I found out later that he was just upset that he didn't win a raffle for tickets to a baseball game...

It was really funny. I was shooting some hoops with a camper of mine who lived in Lakewood, and there were a whole bunch of kids watching us (they probably don't see many Lubavitchers often). Being the nice guy I am, and a camp counselor, I held the ball out and smiled towards the kids watching. I asked this six or seven year old girl, "Hey, do you guys wanna play, too?" At which she just stood there shocked, eyes wide open, jaw to the ground. My co-counselor Yudi whispered to me quickly, "Yossi! We can't do that! We're in Lakewood, remember!?"
Oh, right.

I made a tie-dye shirt in camp, which came out pretty much pink and purple, and I wrote on it in big letters: I "heart" (meaning the shape) Hashem.
I wore it around in a WalMart outside of Lakewood, and everybody was staring at me. The Jewish people would all glance, and then do the double-take, and quickly look away, as if I didn't know exactly what they were doing, and there were some workers in the store that I heard talk about me as they passed: "I love Hasheem?!!" I am afraid to think who they thought Hasheem may be, and why I professed my love to him on my shirt.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Hola

I can't greet you. So my title is just the translation of hello in Spanish. Just a translation. Not a greeting. I hope your fast is meaningful and easy. I'm online at an Apple Store like a half hour from my house in L' wood. I have one more week of camp, and then soon off to Israel, IY"H.
Here's a quickie for ya to think about:
My friend told me that his brother, a Rabbi, was in Atlanta. At the supermarket, he only had a few items to purchase, and he saw that the woman behind him had more items. So he asked her to step in front of him. After seeing this, the woman at the cash register exclaimed, "Wow, Rabbi, that was mighty Christian of you!"
Oh. I finally thought ahead of time, and bought beans, for Tisha B'Av, but where I was last night- the shliach didn't think his congregation was a Kli for it. So now what do I do with so many beans?

Friday, August 1, 2008

McDonald's

I'm not making this up. This is totally true. On the way to a Six Flags, we passed a McDonald's, and they were hiring. The sign read: "Hiring workers for 8:00 pm (or something like that) and on, and losers for all day"
I doubt that the company headquarters sent out a memo with anything like that on it. The guy was probably fired. But come on, losers?!?!!?!?!?!

Unsettling

Have you ever been a guest at somebody's house for the evening, and the whole time dead scared that they can smell the awful smell of goats on you???
It is verrry unsettling. I tried shifting my body, so only part of me was close to them, whenever I had to talk to the parents. I don't know what the word is for not being able to smell, but only one of those would not have noticed my...goat scent.
Try not to get into a predicament like that. Trust me.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Smack Dab

So everyone's smack dab in the middle (that is the only correct adjective for 'middle': smack dab) of the summer. I finally made it to some more internet (although I wasn't really trying...), so I tried to answer back on comments, and since I'm here, and I was just given an extra 10 minutes by the nice Library people, I might as well post something. Normally I know what inyan I'll want to write about, but I thought I'd only really get time to check my gmail and facebook, and shmais, and aol. And only then my blog.
Yeah, camp's been fun. My bunk (Hey) merged with the other bunk of 8-year-olds (Daled) to form Bunk Daley!! And shhh, don't a soul, but at the end of the week, me and my new co. will breaking out Bunk War, IY"H. Send a holler if you can think of names for the teams. The staff still need to decide if we want to do Color war for the whole camp.
In Wii news: I still have not played a Wii!!! At six flags, there was a Wii Station, and the counselors stayed later in the park after the campers left, so one of things we did was go to the Wii place, and the first console I went to, it had to show a 20-hour video in lego people before you could play, so I quickly went to a different console, but it didn't have the nunchuck (I'm not sure why you need it, and what it does) so I couldn't play!! Oh, well.
The weekly journal is going pretty good, baruch hashem. Sometimes the things I write are funny, but sometimes the journal is just... ok. Which isn't bad. Just not great. I'm the main writer/editor/whatever you want to call it, but others add their own stuff. The main problem is that I can't write so much, and that we have the aichus, just not the kamus.

We weren't able to go jet-skiing this Sunday, which was a real bummer. We spent like six hours in the car total. We were on the dock, had watched the safety video, had life-jackets on, but then this hurricane-like storm just plopped down on us, and that was it. We don't too much in terms of after-camp activities, and trips. I don't mind so much. The one thing I'm really happy about, and proud, too, is that we don't have "movie nights" or anything like that. Some guys watch movies on i-pods, but in so many other camps, including one that is not as cool as mine, I've heard some counselors there tell me that basically all they do is watch movies, after camp. And internet. So it feels rewarding that five and a half weeks into a day camp, and the only movie I've watched is 10 minutes of The Magic School Bus!! (It was at someone's house, where we went for Shabbos.)

I just read this post, and I'm sorry for it being so boring. I told you, I didn't really prepare. There are a myriad of things I'd like to speak about, most nothing to do with camp, but I can't post something now, and just get back to it 3 weeks later. So just to leave you at least with something funny, here's a joke:
There are two people in a boat, Pete, and Repete....

Oh. You know that one. Darn it. Sorry, then. That's all that I have. Maybe you can just share jokes with each other.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Wassup

Hey, how ya'll doing? I hope your summer's been fun and relaxing. Oh, and Happy Independence Day. So I'm here just for gimmel Tammuz weekend, and this will probably be the only time I'll be using the computer. Obviously I can't tell you everything that's been going on (it's all crazy! (inside joke (sorta (I miss using the quadruple parentheses)))), but I can give you the rundown:

Wow, so I'm loving my summer so far. I'm a counselor at a gan izzy not so far from here, and it's a pretty well-known establishment. We are on a farm. Seriously. Like- horses. And goats. Yeah, I know. But it's a blast, and most of my friends are with me as counselors. We live in a non-lubavitch (to put it verrrrrry nicely) neighborhood, and I wake up at 6 am to start my day. I don't get back home until about 8:30 at night, after bikkur bayis. It's a totally exhausting day. Like seriously exhausting. But a blast. At bikkur bayis, we have an easy method for deciding which campers to go to first. First we go to the ones with the biggest houses. Yes, it's that simple, and yes, we're that shallow. But we go to most of our campers' houses, so it doesn't matter where we start from. After the biggest houses, we next look for campers with the Wii.
It is an ongoing joke among the staff, that I have never been able to nail a Wii. I've been to about six or seven houses already, and either they don't have the wii, or it's been broken!!! I have some sort of Nintendo curse, I guess...

My bunk are 8-year-olds. I have the smallest number of campers for a bunk. Just the six kids. Some are cute. Some are cool (this one kid who is really good at sports has long hair!!! Like a rocker. Or like Hanson. I think he's doing it for Wigs for Kids, but I'm not sure). Some are monsters. I call this one kid Cookie Monster, because I found out after fighting with him over every single lunch, that the only thing he eats are cookies. I spoke with his mother after he wouldn't even eat a piece of bread for lunch, and she was like: yeah, we have that problem at home. He doesn't eat lunch." But he adores me. He always wants to be my buddy on trips, and sit next to me on the bus. If I had all the cookies in the world, I'd give 'em to him.

The camp is almost all outdoors (the farm) so of course every day I come back totally burnt, no matter how much sunscreen I put on.

At the house we live at, we all have jobs to keep the house somewhat clean. Since I like challenges, I chose Garbage. I'm telling you now, I hope by the end of the summer I'll finally be able to tie a full garbage bag normally.

We have a weekly camp journal that we put out (like every camp), and I was picked to write the weekly review bit. I didn't want to. I would rather write the funny one page blabs about nothing, or funny interviews with the staff... Because to recap the whole week in two pages, while being expected to be funny is kind of hard. But I like challenges, (well, actually, only those that I think I'll be able to do...) and I took the job. I write the review for the week from the perspective of a lonely, disgruntled tetherball named Tethermus, who refuses to be called a tetherball, but rather a Splendid Sphere of Fun. And I put some quadruple parentheses in, also. The criticisms I got were that it was way too long. And I can't put in anything negative. At all.

There are so many little stories I could tell you about. If I had internet access, trust me, cyberspace would be inundated with hundreds of more posts from me. But here's a quick little story for ya':
I got onto a bus to go to a kid's house for bikkur bayis, and I was looking for a seat to sit, and I heard a kid crying uncontrollably. Being a good counselor and a caring soul, I sought out the source, and sat down next to this little boy who was just bawling. He was upset because he didn't win a prize at a funplex type of place we went to, and he really really really really wanted to win it. I started trying to cheer him up. Finally he stopped crying, and we became good friends. I convinced him that he could go back to the funplex place for his birthday, which is April 11th. Since he's only six or seven, he believed me that April was coming up soon, and wasn't so far away. Anyway, later that day, I was at a picnic for a Jewish cubscout pack that a kid in camp was in, and we were invited to after bikkur bayis. This little boy was also there, and he was having a blast playing Frisbee with me (can anyone teach me how to throw it? I'm not very good), and then we sat together watching some kids play baseball. He turned me, smiling, and exclaimed, "This is the best day of my life!!!" Now, he is only six. So it very well could have been the best day so far. But it was sooo funny because you normally don't hear a seven year old say such a statement about his life, and also because he was bawling so hard just hours earlier, and then it was the worst day of his life. Okay, now that I'm typing, it doesn't sound so funny. But trust me, it was. You had to be there.

Oh, yeah, one more thing. Out of many. Bochurim are very good at declining offers of food. When we go to people's houses, I'm an expert at politely declining anything besides for like water. So at bikkur bayis, since we stay to like 7 or 7:30, they always offer us food. "Naah, we're all having dinner later tonight" I always tell them. But sometimes they just buy food for us, anyway. So this past week, I had pizza every single night!!!! It became a big joke. In one city, they had kosher pizza, and kosher chinese. The families only offer us pizza, because they think that's what we like. They have no idea that we're sick of it. I can't exactly say, "No, no thank you. Really. Please don't trouble yourself- Oh, you insist on getting us food....Pizza? Well, actually, once you're offering pizza, I'd rather have chinese...." It doesn't really go. Oh well. Next week, I better have a family that either doesn't offer any dinner, or gets us chinese, because I don't think I could last another week of just pizza.

Anyway, have a good shabbos. Go to a farbrengen this weekend sometime. Shoot some fireworks. And watch out for my next post. You never know when it might come next. (I don't either, so we're in the same boat).
And sorry for the long post.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Oh, quickly, one more thing!!

I know, I know. This ruins the whole atmosphere that I was trying to leave off with, but this is kinda' important.
Tomorrow, our yeshiva's Shlichus list will be given out, I think.
You can try to figure out which yossi I am (There's only one going on shlichus, I think, so it shouldn't be too hard), and then wish me all the Success and brachos.
But only once you see where I'm going.

Okay.
That's the end.
Really.
Goodbye.
I'm pretty sure I'll continue blogging this fall, if I don't this summer. So keep an eye out. Don't put one out, chas v'shalom.

How to be like Yossi

So you think you have what it takes to blog like me? If you want to get inside my head, here are the 8 easy steps it takes to write a post just like Yossi!! So this summer, you can write pretend posts, and imagine they are from me!!! Then you won't miss me that much!!!

  1. Choose a tiny "happening" that you remember, but nobody would want to listen to, it's that stupid
  2. Expand and exaggerate
  3. Add humor
  4. Start at least three lines with "So"
  5. Use the parentheses, double parentheses, and sometimes even triple parentheses.
  6. Say things like "I mean, come on, right??"
  7. Put in some philosophical babble about life
  8. End with a funny Hora'ah
See how easy it is? I've revealed the secret to being me. Now you can all try while I'm away.
Here's a sample post. It's not true.
It will be based on the Happening: I got wet from a puddle.
Notice it is a simple, one sentence story. Not exciting. Pretty pathetic. But now look what it can become:

So I was walking down Kingston, right?
And of course, it was raining (like it normally does on the days I need to go somewhere)(which is usually every day.... huh.)(OMG!! does it rain, because I'm outside, or am I outside because it is raining???!!!).
So I was of course minding my own business, rushing hither and thither (are those real words? If so, add them to my favorite words list), and this mother and her two sons were walking towards me. She had this huuuge umbrella (and you know what I think about those...), and her kids, I could even tell from a distance, were absolute animals.
There were cars zooming up Kingston, so I couldn't cross the street.
I just had a really bad premonition about it.
And it turned out I was only too right.
There was this massive puddle (of course) right in between me and this family.
I saw the gleam of evil schemes in the bigger boy's eyes.
I was frantic. I tried looking for an escape, but found none.
I didn't know what to do. My throat felt like it was closing up.
It was everything I had in me, just to keep concentrating on wide, open pastures.
And then he went for it, at the last possible second-
He jumped as hard as he could into the huge puddle, spraying Everyone, soaking me head to toe in disgusting Crown Heights mucky water!!!!!
It was so gross!!
And the worst of it was, to top it off, the way the mother just chuckled (that's right, laughed!!!) at how funny her son was being!!!
I mean, come on, lady!!! Discipline your kids!! They are wreaking havoc on humanity, and you think they are adorable!
Well, they're not. And that goes to all you parents out there who would just laugh when your kids kicks someone in a place that hurts, or throws food at someone... whatever.
Anyway, if you want to play it safe, just don't go out the rain, because that means I'll probably be out on the streets, too.
That's it. The sample post. If you thought it sounded a lot like me... well, I did write it. And if you thought it still didn't have that neshama of the Yossi you love... well, it didn't exactly happen, and I didn't write it L'Shma.

Hey, I have an idea. You can write about things that happen to you this summer, trying to fit it into the "be like Yossi" outline. Email it to me (I'll probably have time to check it). And then.... I don't know. Probably nothing. So you know what? Nevermind about that last thing.

In the meantime...

Here are some things you can do in the meantime this summer:
  1. Write your congressman (They are always telling people to do that)
  2. Re-re-read all my posts
  3. Build a house
  4. Convince other people how my blog is amazing, and boost my readership up to 5
  5. Lock yourself in your room, and start a hunger strike until it gets on the national news, saying you won't eat until Yossi blogs again. (Then I'll have no choice. I'm a sucker for saving people's lives...)

Goodbye, Readers

I just found out that I will have pretty limited internet access, where I will be a counselor, this summer.
Which means I won't be able to post that much.
So this is kinda like goodbye.
I know, it's tearing me up inside, too.
There were so many things I wanted to say, but didn't get time...
Oh well.
Just know they were good, and if I remember or have time, I'll put 'em up.
I have a few minutes, so these next two posts will be it, for now.
Now go get a tissue.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Oy, Aibeshter!!

A friend of mine passed away, from Yena Machala, R"L.
He only found it after pesach, when it was already too advanced.
He was 20.
Why is life so hard?

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

My Dark Past: The Bridge

When I was in ninth grade, my math teacher thought it would be such a great experience for my class (four of us) to enter into a county-wide model truss-bridge contest.
Basically you take a bunch of special wood, balsam, I think, and glue it together, to see how much weight your bridge can hold. At the event, each group presents a powerpoint presentation about bridge building, and hands in a written report, ve'chulu.
We were hesitant at first, but after seeing how much time it would take off from our studies, we soon had the incentive to try.
It was hard work, gluing and cutting the little pieces of wood. We first of course had to design a bridge, so we looked at real truss bridges, which basically use only triangles, which are the strongest shape.
The first bridge we built collapsed as we were testing it, and we only had time to build one more.
The design used triangles, but we really had no idea about exactly what would add the most tensile strength, etc. to the bridge. So we just made ours look cool.
On the big day, we got out of the car, and walked across the parking lot, to where the event was being held. We were all smiles, but it went pretty much downhill from there.
The first thing that we noticed was that we were carrying our bridge. Out in the open. Where the elements could touch it. We were all taken aback when we saw one school's team open up a steel briefcase that looked like it should have been handcuffed to the President, and as it opened steam hissed out (you know, that frozen, cryogenic type of smoke).
As we brought our bridge up to the platform of judges to wait with all the other bridges, until the program started, my friend who was carrying our bridge- dropped it!!
Everyone in the whole auditorium gasped. The place was completely silent. We just chuckled, but were bright red in the cheeks.
When we went to take our seats, we saw that the program had made a mistake with our school's name, and instead of listing us as a high school, instead said we were a day-school.
But we weren't going to let those things stop us from taking home the gold. We took our seats and waited until it was our time to present the power point we made.
We all looked nervously at each other after listening to the other presentations. Dang, these guys were good!! Most teams actually weighed and tested every single stick of wood they used, to get the best ones. We never even thought of that. A lot of teams tested about five or six different designs, some using sophisticated computer software, to determine the strongest. We just brought whatever had not fallen apart when we tested it. Most presentations had an in-depth analysis of the structure of bridges, and density of each piece of wood, and a lot of stuff we didn't understand. Our presentation had cute pictures of triangles and real bridges, and saying things a four year old wouldn't need to be taught.
But we got up there when it was our turn, and we delivered our presentation, and some people even clapped!
And then it was on to the competition. I don't remember now how much weight we held before collapsing, but let's say for example that if our bridge held 7 pounds, that would mean the winner held about 16. We beat maybe like two bridges.
One judge told us she liked our design (we had some kinda cool second tier/floor type of bridge, where it went up higher than it needed to. not because it would make the bridge stronger, but we just thought it would make it look cooler) and thought we'd for sure win. Wasn't she disappointed.
At the end, as we were leaving, everyone kind of avoided looking at us.
But at least we tried, right?

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Shlichus

The list has not officially come out yet for either us or Oholei Torah. Just a few bochurim still aren't set where they are going.
While I'm not official, either, it's been about 95% for the past, like seven months. Everyone knew where I wanted to go, since before Yud Shvat.
But with a certain Yerushalmi, it's never certain about where you are going, no matter how high the percentage, until you walk into that yeshiva, they look at you, and say "Welcome, we want you here."
So I won't spoil it yet for those of you who don't know where I'm going.
I'll give a hint: I like this place a lot, and I'll be in the shiur of one of the most eccentric personalities in Lubavitch. And, if I remember correctly, he puts himself into the category of New Lubavitch, which I'm not sure how he explained that, though.

The Man

Leibel Groner is the man.
I needed to speak with him about something important, but kinda' private, and he was so cool with me.
That makes him the man.
(And how he came to my yeshiva for chof ches adar (I think it was) to speak about everything that happened from then until gimmel tammuz... a lot of interesting stories about the nurses invovled, etc.)
And I guess if I'm on the topic of men, R' Yisroel Labkowski, my Maggid shiur for nigleh, is also the man.

Some Jokes

How do you save a drowning lawyer?

Take your foot off his head.

What do you need if you have three lawyers up to their necks in cement?

More cement.

What are mixed feelings?

When your mother-in-law drives off a cliff, in your new car.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Oh, Yeah

Oh, yeah. And after walking back from tahalucha, I ate at R. Lubkowski's house. The Rosh Yeshiva of 770. Yeah, that one. PSSSSSHHHHH.
Too bad I was hot, nasty, and smelly.
I would have liked to give a better impression. But I'm sure they understood we just walked back from Boro Park...

Well, I'm back, BH

Baruch Hashem, I'm still here to keep the blog alive.
I gulped down some cheesecake over yom tov, just to keep the suspicious authorities at bay. Make them think I might not be the one they want.
But let me tell ya', it was unbearably hot these past couple o' days.
Of course, I am only joking. Obviously it was bearable, or else none of us would be here, chas vshalom. Just a figure of speech.
And the hour and a half Tahalucha was pretty draining. Although the heat was not the worst of my problems...
Anyway, there is a longstanding debate among lubavitchers as to the method of carrying water on tahalucha. Some maintain that you actually expend more energy carrying the water, than you save by actually drinking it. I wasn't sure... but now I am totally certain of one thing. It may or may not be worth it to carry one or two bottles of water with you, but carrying seven bottles of water (and what idiot do we know out there would even be stupid enough to do something like that? especially if he and the others he was carrying for only drank two bottles??) is definitely not worth the energy.
One of the funnier things on Tahalucha was when we were walking back (I went to Boro Park). Some little kids were making fun of us, and telling us big non-Lubavitch Rebbeim were speaking in a certain shul, and we should stay and listen... They then yelled after us: Lubavitcher Meshugaim. Their mothers all shushed them, as if what was said at their tables shouldn't be spoken aloud.
No, no. I'm just kidding. They were I'm sure, good people, and we're not innocent either of making fun of those not similar to us.
When R. Weinfeld joked to me that those kids might have started to throw rocks, I puffed out my chest, and proudly told him that I would gladly stand in the way of their volley, and block the rocks.
I hope everyone else had a cool Shavuos.
Did you know I finish Yeshiva in a week and a half?
I did.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Shavuos

This will most likely be my last post. After I press publish, you will probably never here from me again.
Here's why:
When I gave my blood for Dor Yesharim's genetic testing, I got a very interesting call a few weeks later. They said they found something very odd in my blood, and wanted to know if it was true. After verifying my confidentiality, I told them it was true- that I did not like cheesecake.
Joint researchers at Oxford University and Duke University finished about four years ago a six-year-long study in which they finally found a very unique gene, in Jews, which is called the RSD gene (Nobody can actually pronounce the 12 syllable name), or the Stereotype Gene. You can read more about the study here. This makes all of us enjoy cheesecake.
I don't. Apparently, only 1 in 100,000 Jews carry a special enzyme which blocks the production of this gene. It is so rare, that as soon as I push Publish, there will be a S.W.A.T. team at my door, to tranquilize me, bag me, and bring me to Area 51, in order to do tests and experiments. The reason this enzyme is so valuable, is that the scientists believe it is a universal gene production blocker, and can be used to stop any gene from manifesting.
It is because of my unique DNA that I also don't like (gasp) shmaltz herring. (OK, so I have never really tasted it, but I mean, come on! Look at it and smell it, and tell me how I could possible enjoy eating something like that!!)
So so long, world. Have a good Shavuos, and be Mekabel the Torah BeSimcha U'Bepnimios.
Maybe one of you will continue blogging for me, to keep the flame alive...

Naso

Yesterday was Parshas Naso. It is the longest single Parsha in the Torah. It has 176 psukim.
The longest K'Pital of Tehillim (119) also has 176 psukim. The longest Mesechta of Gemoro (Baba Basra, what we're learning now) has 176 blatt (double-sided pages)(well, actually, it starts on page 2, like every gemarah, but whatever...).
What does it all mean?
I have no idea.
Someone probably does, though.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Counting....down??

Not only are we in the midst of counting (up) towards the Regiving of the Torah, but it also less than three weeks until the end of Yeshiva.
The end of Yeshiva means- The END.
My last year in a yeshiva, as a bochur.
Next year, shlichus (IY"H).
After that, smicha (IY"H).
We've spent the past six years of our lives in mesivta and zal.
It is all finally cumulating (what's the difference between cumulate and accumulate, by the way?) up to the end package.
I'll be leaving to go on Shlichus, with these past years of Yeshiva stuffed in me. Hopefully some of it actually stayed.
It's always depressing (for every single bochur. Not one is different here) to realize how much you actually accomplished, versus how much time you wasted and what you could have achieved. How much you could have learned. What level you could have been at now.
I don't know at all what my expectations were when I came into Yeshiva, about what I would look like after I left...
So the goal of course is for me to Chap Arain these last few days. Use them out. Nitzul Hazman should be my top priority.
Every single person who visits to farbreng at any yeshiva always says the same thing: I wish I could have learned more when I was there.... Chap Arain now...
Which should be motivational, except if you think about it, it kind of lessens the severity of not using all your time wisely. I mean, if nobody else did, and look where they are....

Monday, June 2, 2008

I didn't forget

Just so you know, I didn't forget my blog anniversary. I'm just not celebrating anymore. I mean, come on. I'm twenty years old. I'm way too mature.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Tree People

This was an interesting Shabbos.
First of all, it was raining in 770.
But also it was interesting in regards to where I ate my meals.
Friday night I ate at a guy's house, who was my learning teacher seven years ago in cgi montreal. We've stayed in touch only a little bit over the years (it was always really awkward when he called me. I wonder if my campers think the same thing when I call them up every now and then. Of course, he was slightly weird, and verrrry chassidish. I'm a lot cooler, right? Actually, my kids probably all know the truth- that I'm a big dork...).
And this year, being in Crown Heights, we've seen each other some times, and I've always managed to avoid his invitation. But last week on my birthday, I was on the Ohel bus, and he saw me with my brother. It was his birthday also. (Not my brother's, but my former learning teacher.)(Not that it wasn't also my brother's. It was. But it was also the dude's.)
So I couldn't say no anymore, and we set the date for us to eat over.
It wasn't a bad meal. It was just slightly awkward. Like, really drawn out and forced conversation type of meal.

And then of course there was my meal on Shabbos day...
We (me, my bro, and my sis) finally went to eat at the Tree People's house.
The Tree People, or Forest Family (or any combination, like Forest People...) if you remember, had invited us over when we met them in the Redwood Forest over Chol HaMoed. So we finally decided to call them up and go.
[On the way, we passed this little Yiddeleh, an old man with a cane (and 'old' here means old LeKulai Alma, like double my definition of 'old'), who called out to us to help him walk up some steps to a house. I came forward and lent him my arm and support. When we got to the top, he thanked me, and bentched me that when I get to his age, I shouldn't need help (or something like that). Immediately I answered back that when I got to his age, he should be able to help me up steps if I need. Okay, back to the story-]
We came into the house, and had an (surprisingly) enjoyable meal. They were good-humored, and the conversation flowed. We spoke about the forest we visited, and their trips out to Cali.
At the end of the meal, after benthcing, they started telling us about a group of individuals called the Berkeley Tree People, who were living in trees for a year and a half (as a protest to stop a grove of trees from being turned into a parking lot. For some reason (probably for a good laugh), the judge ruled that as long as they stayed up in the trees, and did not come down, they would not be arrested.).
I thought this was hilarious, of course. I mean, the Tree People, talking about other Tree People. True, our Tree People were named so only because that's where we met them, and not because they lived twenty feet off the ground, but still.
After we left, my sister, who had missed the beginning of the conversation, asked me if I had told them what we call them, and that's why they brought up the other Tree People. I told her no, that it was just a coincidence (Hashgacha Pratis, really).
And then, my sister asked me something so sinister, so horrid, something that caused time to stand still, my heart to miss a beat, and my body to be shaken to its very core, "What if they brought it up, because THEY call US the Tree People??????!!!!!!!"
We had always assume it was our little joke. But what if they laugh about us, and call us the same thing, and thought it would be a hoot to talk to us about Tree People, Like Ourselves???
Scary, I know.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

I'd give my right kidney

I really try to give blood as often as I can. I think I am really making a difference, and it's something which your body remakes anyway.
A few days ago I saw signs plastering Kingston about someone who desperately needs a kidney, in order to save his life, Rachmana L'Tzlan.
At first I thought- No way!
But then.... I mean, I have two, right? And obviously he has no family or close friends to donate, or else they wouldn't beg people on Kingston. If not me, then who?
What got me more curious was that all my friends I spoke to told me I was crazy.
I couldn't understand them. Why is it soooo crazy? I'd be saving this man's life, if my kidney matched.
This little kernel of uncertainty started to grow, and I spoke with Hanhalah members, about halachic issues, etc. Most agreed that I should first speak with my parents, who almost for sure would say no, so I wouldn't have the dilemma anyway. But all of them said how I wasn't crazy and how amazing it is to help someone in that way.
I just couldn't understand why all my friends thought it was 100% nuts. Like, couldn't they agree with me that it was only 80%, and maybe just maybe I should think more about it?
My father really surprised me by going through the difficulties someone with one kidney has to live with, in case I went through with it. He wasn't pleased, and later both my parents decided they didn't want me to do it, but he wasn't all, "No way. You are absolutely crazy," that my friends were. (I know I just used "he was all". It's okay.)
In the end I also decided that I for sure wasn't going to do it. Once I have a family, and that everyone I love has no problems, Chas V'shalom, that might warrant me to be glad I have one to give, then maybe I'll think about it.
I just really hope this person got his donation.
If he didn't... I'll be really heartbroken, I think.

A joke

What does an Arab terrorist sleep on at home?

A blow-up mattress


(hmmm. maybe not so funny.)

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Birthday Brachos

On my birthday I have the power to give brachos. So:
You all should be bentched with everything you davven for, in Gashmius and Ruchnius. You should be happy, and healthy, and successful in everything you attempt. You should find meaning in everything you do. You should give even more chassidishe nachas to your family, and the Rebbe. Hashem should grant all the desires of your heart, and ten-fold.
Everyone should be healthy, and everyone should know only revealed good, and hear only b'surois toivos.

(here is where you'd say: amen)

Monday, May 26, 2008

My Birthday

Tonight I am turning 20, IY"H.
That's right. Twenty.
Say it. Twenty.
See how it just rolls off your tongue?
It is a perfect word. (Almost like the word incognito, which is one of the best ever)
I mean, think about it. In five hours, if you were to ask me how old I am, I would answer, "Well, I'm twenty."
It's not that I've never thought I would get to twenty. It's just that when you are ten, twenty seems.... old.
Now it's 40.
But I'm halfway there.
Halfway to old.

My farbrengen will be tomorrow night, IY"H. It will also be for my brother, whose birthday falls out exactly the same day as mine this year.
I don't think my friends are getting me anything. Which is fine.
Last year they surprised me with a cake, and threw it in my face.
Yes, it sounds like good fun.
But trust me, when it is a frozen cake, and after smashing into your face, and the onto the floor, and still not making any dent into the cake whatsoever, well, it hurts.
A lot.
So you might also have gotten a teensy upset at your friends.
But then they brought me a normal cake, and we made up.
(Oh, they didn't mean for it to be frozen. If they had, I doubt I'd still be friends.)

Now I just need to practice answering, "I'm twenty," without smiling stupidly. And I could use a little deeper voice, in case the questioner has his doubts.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

The "S" Word

It is a proven fact that every guy my age thinks about the "S" word every 10 seconds.
I am no exception.

The idea of Shlichus is consuming my waking thoughts, and some of my dreams.

It was only a few years ago that I even decided to go on Bochur Shlichus in the first place. As to Shlichus after marriage- I have no clue as to what I'll do. First I have to get through next year.

It is a very scary and daunting prospect.

Am I capable?

To be a shliach is not as simple as deciding to put on a new pair of socks you've never worn before. A shliach is a Shliach of the Rebbe!!!

I have learned many sichos about the different levels in shlichus, according to Halacha and Gemoroh. A shliach must be similar to the Mishaleach (sender), which is why a goy cannot be a Jew's shliach when it comes to mitvos which he must perform, like giving a get...

Then the levels come, which explain how much of the Mishaleach you actually become. Up until the point that you are the Mishaleach, and in everything that you do he is there.

Am I really up to that point as a Chossid that I can say the Rebbe can be seen in every single thing that I do???

Will I be able to be the Rebbe's shliach properly?

One of the most basic principles in teaching and influencing is that you can only give over something if you have it yourself.

Do I have it?
I look in the mirror and find it hard to say I do. I know myself, and I know what the students in the Yeshiva will need. It is disheartening and depressing. What is more disparaging is the thought that I obviously don't care about my Chassidishkeit as much as I should, or else I would have already changed to be at the level I want.
Won't the bochurim in the yeshiva be able to see that?

And of course, these are not my only concerns about Shlichus.
What first seemed an incredible concept, but now I am not so sure, is that in my Yeshiva we actually have a say in where we are sent. There are only 16 bochurim going on Shlichus, as opposed to Oholei Torah's 160.
So I am working around the clock to make sure I have the best group possible to go with me. The problem is that so is everyone else, and with the limited places, not everyone will be totally happy.
It is a very hard job for Hanhala to do- put every bochur in the group and place that is perfect for him.

And it takes a bit of Emunah now to believe that once the list comes out, it is all according to the Rebbe's wishes. Before Gimmel Tammuz, the Rebbe would give the final say, and look over all lists.
So where now I might be upset (at first) at hearing that someone I either don't get along with, or who I think might not do well on Shlichus is coming with me, but when you know the Rebbe looked at the list and gave you Brachos, and made a motion with his hands that said, "Go, Conquer!!" you have no doubt whatsoever.

The Rebbe should give me all the Brachos and Koichos I clearly need, in order to be the Rebbe's Shliach, and succeed.

A joke

Usually "I apologize" is the same thing as "I'm sorry".

Except when it comes to a funeral.

Clowning Around

For the parade on Friday, I was a clown. And naively thinking that Murphy's Law didn't apply to clowns, imagine our nightmare when.... well let me back up.

Everyone knows that there is a fine line which separates being a clown, and acting like a complete idiot. That fine line is the costume. And here's where our story continues- we didn't get costumes!!

And we had come so prepared, too!!

Because nothing gets you in the mood of a clown better than some distilled wheat grain (or whatever it is they use to make mashke).

So of course, the parade and rally continued on without us, leaving us miserable (if we had make-up, imagine our huge painted frowns we'd have).

But then we had an epiphany. We did have costumes, we just had to know where to look. We ended up wrapping caution tape and cardboard boxes around us, and we ran like idiots to the rally along the parade route.

When we got there, we succinctly told that these costumes were unwanted, but- The costumes were on their way!!!

So it worked out in the end.


More about that day:

When we arrived, we waited outside a school building, where all the little kids were screaming things at us, like "Bittul Torah" and "Is the Rebbe alive? Why isn't he here?" and stuff like that. We would've yelled back, but of course words can never hurt us. It was really funny when some of them started to sing Yechi. Because they vocalize differently, and it sounded like: Yuchi Adoniney, Moriney VeRabiney.

And at the rally, lots of kids would ask us if the lollipops were kosher (and please tell me why everyone has to call them Lollies??? It drives me nuts. Just say lollipop!!), and up to their standards. I wanted to say: look, kids. It's the most disgusting looking lollipop ever. Of course it's something you can eat. Only the highest kashrus for this nasty thing. Most just threw them on the ground, but it could have been just from the look of them, not the lack of a decent hechsure.

A lot of times, kids would ask me something in Yiddish, and so I just used my being a clown as an excuse not to answer (because for some reason, it just seems right that clowns don't speak, ya' know?)

There was a group of "cool" 12 year olds at the rally, so me and another clown got into a dance-off with them, and of course we whooped 'em (is that how you spell whooped?).

Oh, yeah. There were a total of close to 5,000 kids there!!!!!

And at the end, we had to clean up. This guy comes over to me and asks, "Are you a climber?" I've never really gotten that question before. And if someone had to describe me, I'm sure that wouldn't be close to the top of the list. But I shrugged and said "sure".

He gave me an exacto knife, and told me to cut down the huge signs of the 12 psukim and Lag B'Omer banner, that were tied to the fence.

The fence was about 16 feet high.

I had to climb up, hold on, mostly with my hands, and the knife in between my teeth, and swing myself to get to other parts of the fence. Once, I was dangling at the highest point, with no support for my feet, and the top bar of the fence wasn't connected to the middle post, so it could have plunged downwards.... But baruch hashem I can now answer proudly that yes, I'm a climber.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Toothpaste

So I wanted a cheap way of whitening my teeth. I've used the white strips before, but I was sure that here on Kingston they'd be like thirty bucks.
That's when I finally read the small print on my tube of toothpaste.
It says: For Best Results, Squeeze Tube From Bottom and Flatten As You Go Up.

There it was!! The answer!! All I needed to do was squeeze from the bottom, and I'd get better results, which means whiter teeth!!!!
And I've never noticed whiter teeth, because I have never, ever, ever, squeezed from the bottom for the whole time!
Once I did try, I really did. It lasted about two days until I started just squeezing from the middle or even (gasp) the top!! It's just so much easier.
But now that I am determined, I will try to do the whole tube, from the bottom.
Have any of you found out if it helps your teeth or not?
Let me know, so I don't have to wait a whole month...

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Saving Lubavitch

I saved all Lubavitch Yeshivos worldwide from closing down.
Sort of.
Here's what went down:
There may or may not be a group of guys that are modern orthodox and/or snags (I usually wouldn't use such terminology, but you'll see soon that I'll use even worse...) that decide whether a Yeshiva Gedola should be funded by the Government as a college, or something like that. And our Hanholoh explained to us that without the money, all yeshivos would close down!! (Note to Rohr or Leviav: If you guys are reading this, even though it is an amazing thing to give money for more and more chabad houses, don't forget the importance of education!!! Our yeshivos are constantly in lack of adequate funding!!!)
So for the whole Tomchei Tmimim system, they decided to visit Chovevei Torah (which, if you haven't guessed by now, is where I'm at).
Word on the street is that they went to Satmaar recently, supposedly intent on closing down their yeshivos, but weren't able to. And no matter how much they are against Satmaar, they absolutely despise Lubavitch, ('cause Anyone Who Is Anyone hates Lubavitch). These guys really wanted to close us down. (You didn't hear it from me, but someone even called one of them a Rasha MeRusha)
At least, that's what we were told. That this time it was really big, unlike other inspections they do. There sometimes are even Lubavitchers part of this group, but this time it was only one out of about 12(?).
So of course, we needed to tuck our shirts in and come to seder, in order to look like a normal yeshiva.
And this group walked around our yeshiva during a shiur, and then wanted to speak with some students.
They first were speaking with a bochur who didn't go on shlichus, but stayed to learn when he wants in zal. The actual student they got, in order to speak with, was none other than... me.
I didn't know this beforehand. Rabbi Weinfeld just called me out of shiur, sent me downstairs, and told me that I would be asked questions like: Where is the bathroom, where is your dormitory? to make sure I was really part of Yeshiva (they also thought about the idea of boosting our numbers a tad, but they didn't realize they wouldn't be given a bochur who doesn't go there...). It ended up being slightly more grueling, but how could he have known?
I'm not gonna say the guy's name, because if he ever googles himself (and with the way he walked and talked, I'm sure it's a few times daily), I don't want him seeing what I think about him.
Basically, I understood why a hanhala member calls him a Rasha. And it's why I called him a snag. You could tell he was extremely against Lubavitch. And maybe against all frum yeshivos. He himself is frum, and a professor of something.
He asked me basic enough questions, like about my seder for the whole day (I made sure to tell him I wake up at twenty to seven, to go to mikveh) and who my chavrusahs are, what shiurim I'm in, etc. He would ask about when I learn Rambam (and then say how it's impossible for anyone to finish a year and understand it). When I told him davvening could take an hour for shacharis, he was exasperated, and remarked that no wonder so many lubavitch bochurim go off the derech and into the streets. We spoke about my plans for shlichus, at which he went off on a tangent to express his concerns about shluchim in communities that barely learned anything in yeshivos... He asked me what, if any, papers my parents or I signed in order to come to yeshiva, and if I was registered still with L.A. He kept trying to trip me up, like asking if I signed papers here saying it was my third year in Chovevei, since it was my third year of Zal, but first year here....
But I was respectful, and showed a sense of humor when we spoke about my time in Los Angeles (he told me he's friends with the Rosh, and I should send my regards), and the difference in shiurim between the Rosh and R' Yisroel here.

Later that night, Rabbi Weinfeld told me the rest of the story.
After speaking to me and leaving yeshiva, he went to ULY's main office, near 770, to speak with Rabbi Glukowski, the head of the tomchei tmimim system. The first thing he asked was to see my grades. He had asked Weinfeld earlier, after speaking with me, and Rabbi Weinfeld had already memorized everyone's grades two weeks earlier in preparation for the inspection. This snag kept asking to see the documentation of everything that was told to him, to see if there were any holes in anyone's story. But Weinfeld was right, he found out, and he saw that my grades were indeed good. He asked what my father does for a living (to see if Weinfeld lied about that), also.
Rabbi Weinfeld was beaming when he told me all this. He said that this guy was extremely impressed with me, and they way I came off.
You can guess the rest- Yeshiva got the nod, and the funding, and all Yeshivas are safe for the time being..... all in a day's work.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Pesach Sheini

Today is Pesach Sheini.
If you want to know more about the spiritual significance, go to chabad.org, I guess.
There is a famous saying about what Chabad Chassidus accomplished, brought attention to, or was m'chadesh- three things:
Nefesh Sheini, Pesach Sheini, and Cheder Sheini.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Whatever The Rebbe Wants

There are signs downstairs in my yeshiva for the mesivta about a new shiur during their breakfast break, about Moshiach. At the bottom of every sign, it says:
GIVE THE REBBE NACHOS.
That cracks me up, because of course they meant to write Nachas.
But who doesn't like nachos every now and then??

Brain Cells

Even though I was planning to write something else in one of my last posts, it totally slipped my mine when I was actually typing. I wanted to clarify that when I gave blood, the reason they put a blanket over someone was because he got hypothermia from giving blood. I don't think I mentioned that in the post.
I think I forgot to write that because I must have lost too many brain cells over the years by puffing out my cheeks and holding my breath....
Oh, and nobody seemed to notice my joke in the post about Lag B'omer, that I called Boro Park a borough. It's not. And the real borough is even spelled differently, duh!! I guess my audience isn't as smart as I had assumed...

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Lag B'Omer

This lag b'omer, since there's no parade here in the heights (only when it's Sunday), the yeshivos are all helping out with the Chabad-run parade in Boro Park.
Which just happens to be the biggest in the world (although someplace in Israel they claim that title, really it's our fellow borough who can brag).
There will be an estimated 8,000 kids (!!!!) who will be there. And these next days we'll be working after seder to make banners, v'chulu. And of course we'll each be a counselor for a bunk of 40 kids who have never seen each other before. There will be close to 200 bunks!!! And the kids aren't coming with their schools, but just dropped off, or whatever.
"Hectic" won't even come close.

And I have no idea why this font is messing up on me... sorry about the huge letters

Giving blood again

That's right, for the fifth time this year, my buddies and I put on a stoic and macho grimace, and walked into the donation center.
What was really cool this time was that they gave out free bags, too, along with the free dinner (but this time it was only for Mermelsteins. I know.). I'll for sure use this duffel bag, mainly because it says Maimonidies... Blood Donation Center, or something like that. If the hospital had a name like: The St. John's Baptist Episcopalian Hospital for Good Christians, like I've seen some that do, than I wouldn't have been too keen to walk around with a bag like that.
What scared the Bajeebees out of me was this person who was on the recliner, giving blood, and I saw doctors lifting a white blanket up over him. I couldn't see that they stopped it at his neck. I really thought they put it completely over his head, and you know what that means, chas v'shalom!!! I was like, "yeah, maybe not anymore...."
When I went to sit down on a recliner, I saw the one my doc wanted me in had the arm thingee for my right arm. I told him that I'd rather do my left, because it's easier. He says he'll just first try my right arm. I said that they did that once, and didn't find any blood. He just shrugged. Like it was so much easier for him to just stab me with a huge needle a bunch of times in case there might be a good vein, as opposed to getting me a different chair. Somehow I disagreed, and thought I'd help look for a different chair for him.
He saw I was agitated, and asked me what day it was.
Tuesday, I told him.
"Exactly," he answered me.
OOOOhhhhhh!! Of course. It was Tuesday. How could I be so stupid??!!!
But it seemed to him that that really did answer my questions and qualms. I didn't get it at all, until he told me that it was a different day, so maybe they'd have different luck.
And it turned out to be just fine, bh.
When I was getting up to go, my doctor told me, "Thank you for coming."
And of course, being the well-mannered gentleman I am, I replied with a smile, "Thanks for having me."

Monday, May 12, 2008

A P'tor from Mother's Day

That's right. A p'tor. An exemption. Every year I apply for one from Hallmark, but I'm never accepted. They must have too many applications.
Usually I use my "I'm in Yeshiva so I don't have time to buy a present" excuse. And usually it's true.
So instead every year I just give a phone call, and tell my sisters to add my name to whatever they bought.
So I'll be ready for next year. I think I'll try applying even earlier, by around Yud Shvat time, to Hallmark.
It was very cute, I should mention, how everyone on Kingston was carrying flowers, even old dudes with flowing white beards. And old here means about 40. Sorry everybody that age, but you're kinda old, in my opinion. Although, maybe I shouldn't be talking, with my birthday coming up...

Okay, okay. I obviously was joking about if you are 40, then you are incredibly old. 45, maybe. 40, no.

Speaking of rain...

It was rainy out on Friday night, also. I brought my overcoat home, so all I really had to wear to shul was.... my poncho.
Right now I can envision everyone cringing.
I know, I know.
But I had no choice. Most people I asked in my dorm said it didn't look too pathetic. They did tell me to take it off as soon as I got indoors, though.
I mean, come on, though, what comes first, comfort or looks?
Obviously looks.
Which is why it took me a long time to finally decide just to wear it.
My decision was totally justified, though, in my opinion, when I saw that none other than Charlie Buttons himself was also wearing a poncho.
Of course, we were the only two.... but still. It must still be in style, right? Or did they truly die in the 1990's?
On the bright side, all my friends were able to pick me out from a crowd...

When it rains on my parade

I know I already said how I don't like walking around with an umbrella when other people are different heights, but on Friday on mivtzoim, it really was the last straw. It was pouring out, so of course we all had umbrellas.
What really made me just lose it was the scaffolding above sidewalks, where the sidewalk becomes like a one-and-a-half way walkway. It would be hard enough without umbrellas, but it was nearly impossible with.
The trick is too jump on your tiptoes and hold your umbrella as high as you can, or suddenly squat to your knees and bring your umbrella to other people's waist level, so the umbrellas don't get caught in one another.
Somebody watching from the other side of the street must have thought it looked like a weird dance of some sort.
I am thinking now about putting spikes at the end of my umbrella, and carrying it at normal height. Let everyone duck and swerve and spin if they don't want their faces cut or their umbrellas mauled.
I think in the end, I have decided this: I'll just get wet. It's not worth it to be dry.

When we're bored...

This past Thursday night, I did something that I regret now. I wasted two whole hours on it. First it was just me and another, but then more and more guys joined us. We finished at 1:30 in the morning!! I feel embarrassed just saying what we did, but I'll tell you anyways:
We played the question game.
That's right. For two whole hours.
There are a few different variations that you could play, but our game was the most basic: Everything you said had to be a question.
Rules? The rules are: There are no rules!!! (We were playing the question game as they do on the streets, yo)
So even the word "pizza" could be a question, as long as you ended off on a really high note. And it does make sense as a question like if you were told you'd be eating dinner, so you asked, "Pizza??".
For all of you out there, always know that the most dangerous question to ever ask anyone is: "Wanna play the question game?"
The guy you asked could say simply, "no". Or he could ask you back, "Why, do you want to?" and it goes from there.
The way it happened with us was slightly different. I asked my friend if he wanted to play chess, and then he asked me if I really wanted to. And then I uttered the words that I now regret, "Are we playing the question game??" And it started.
The game got sooooo annoying. It gave everyone a headache. But it eventually spread to our entire floor. Some continued to play it in Zal the next morning (But even I wasn't that loserish).
And nobody really gets out, either. Because let's say someone said something you thought was a statement, or he added the "What do you think, Yossi?" part after too long of a pause, so you'll ask him and everyone around you, "Didn't you just get out?" But nobody wants to say, "Yes he did" because then they'd be out. So you get a question back as your answer, "No, are you out?"
Those two hours were seriously a nightmare, and I fully regret ever asking, "are we playing the question game?"