Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Tahalucha

As all of you are preparing to go on Tahalucha this Shavuous...

Rabbi Levi Hecht likes to say-

When you go on Tahalucha, the shul you are speaking at wants you to follow 3 rules
  1. Make sure you speak under 10 minutes.
  2. We have heard the Bar Metzrah Sicha tons of times. We all know it by now.
  3. We know the Rebbe's Moshiach. You don't need to tell us.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

I need professional help!

_________________________.

That was the space for you to laugh and insert your cold pointed jokes about me, before we begin a serious conversation.

I want to buy a laptop.
I don't really need any more requirements than:
  1. It should work.
  2. It should work fast.
  3. It should have enough memory to hold lots of files, pictures, vechulu.
  4. It should get me online.
  5. It shouldn't be expensive.

I was just browsing online, and I realized it's not so simple. I need your help, guys!! First of all, what is the difference between AMD Dual Core processor, and intel, besides for the fact that I've only heard of Intel? And a better question may be-Will I care what the difference is, if in fact there is one?

Next question (and don't shoot me)- What is the difference between vista premium, and windows xp professional, and stuff like that?

And finally, am I right in thinking that it's worth it to put a little more money now to get a better computer with more gadgets and programs, so that I won't need to buy a new one later, when I may regret buying the one with the AMD, and not Intel, for example? Or do all computers break down over a few years, and I could get away with spending just 300 bucks now, knowing anyway I'll have to buy a much better computer in three years?

Eizahu Chacham, HaRoeh Es HaNolad

Here are my plans for the following:

Summer-Counselor once again at the best camp in the world (only because that's where I'll be), Manalapan, NJ. My co-counselor and I had so much fun, we convinced the head counselor to come back one more year, and we gathered together a great bunch of guys, some of whom are also coming back for their second year. Should be lots of fun.

Smicha- Crown Heights!! Yay. It's a mix of 770 smicha and Shlichus in Lubavitch Yeshiva. I'll be back in Paltiel's shiur, for which I'm looking forward to, and after a year of yeshiva shlichus in a mesivta, I'm also eager to try out shlichus in a zal. Not that I didn't enjoy mesivta. It's just that you always do better the second time around.

A chosson at the table

I ate my Shabbos meal today at a family's house where a daughter was engaged (mazel tov), and her chosson was in town for a little bit, so he was eating with us also (there wedding is in a month).
During a lull in the conversation, her chosson started a niggun, and we all joined in.
I whispered to a friend of mine that one of the things you've got to do before getting engaged is to make sure you can start about 4 geshmak niggunim, for this exact circumstance, at your soon to be mechutan's house.
After the niggun finished, the Ba'al HaBos asked his soon to be son-in-law what the name of the niggun was. The chosson said he didn't remember. My friend and I shared a knowing smirk, that implied-That's because on the ipod, all it had was a track number when you were trying to learn it quickly on the plane.
Then later in the meal, it came time for D'var Torahs. I was with three other shluchim, but of course since I was there, they thought they were off the hook, and all looked at me. So I gave in, and delivered an incredible insight of the Rebbe on the whole idea of Achdus (This was shabbos achdus, after all), from a sicha on parshas Yisro. I don't know if I delivered it incredibly, but it definitely is an incredible sicha.
Then the chosson was asked if he had a dvar torah. At first he declined. But we all looked at each other, and said- Of course you have one. You wouldn't come to your soon-to-be in-laws without a dvar Torah!! And as it turned out, what would you know? He did find something to share, that he had prepared.

And the food was Scrumptious and Delicious!!

Pirkei Avos

Today we just finished pirkei avos, in time for Shavuous.
The chabad (and maybe others, as well) custom is to continue saying for a long time... throughout the summer until Rosh Hashana.
One of the reasons is that in the summer months, the yetzer hara is stronger, and depending on where you live, goyim are more pritzus-dikeh in their mode of dress and conduct.
For this reason, there is a joke/saying about Los Angeles (I think maybe it was Rabbi Shapiro who made it up) that we have to say Pirkei Avos here the whole year.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

25 Random Facts About Me

This is officially supposed to be a note on Facebook, but I don't really like Facebook (post coming soon about it, maybe), so I thought I'd write it here. Also, I thought it would be more of a challenge to find things that most of my readers don't know. (But wouldn't your friends on facebook know more about you than we do?? No. They don't read my blog. They only know when my status changes three times a year, and that's the limit of their knowledge about me.)

  1. I used to have really cute blonde hair (now it's just brown.)
  2. I cried when I first heard that my family would be moving cross country (I was about 15.)
  3. I got a 2320 on my SAT's
  4. I don't look similar to my twin brother
  5. I started to finish the whole Tehillim every single shabbos mevorchim because of three unusual circumstances that created a chazaka for me: A) When I was in Pittsburgh, shiur gimmel, I went with some friends to visit Toronto's yeshiva, for a faher and to see if I'd like to go. It was shabbos mevorchim, and I wanted to make a good impression on Hanhala there. I wasn't going to not finish tehillim!!! B) The next month, I somehow got confused and thought that on Shabbos day, there would be an assembly for the girls' high school in our yeshiva, so I went over also (Chatasi Negdi Tamid). Of course, I was the only one there, and I had nothing better to do than finish Tehillim that I had started shabbos morning. C) The following month, we had a great farbrengen, and a friend of mine drank way too much. It was the first time I had seen anyone so wasted and on the brink of...well, wastedness. I was scared, so I sat with him and got him to drink water, and cleaned up his...well, it wasn't pretty, and I was so worried he'd not get over it...so I said Tehillim in between getting him to drink, mostly in his zchus to get better and not...not get better. So from those three clearly not L'Shma times, I had a chazaka, and from then on, k'nainah harah, I haven't missed one shabbos mevorchim to finish all the Tehillim, in these past four years or so.
  6. I learned how to play clarinet
  7. When I was 7 years old, I won for my state in a national contest for- "If you could ask the President one question, what would it be and why?" My question had something to do with a World War 3, and the winner nationally, arrgghh!! His winning question was-If you could ask the President when you were a kid, one question, what would it be and why? Cheap, no?
  8. I seriously considered donating a kidney last year after seeing signs stapled to lampposts down kingston avenue
  9. I hate asparagus, and sometimes cooked spinach, also
  10. I used to have bad acne, and I took Accutane, which was the most potant and powerful drug available. It somehow reconfigured the chemicals in my brain, and they had to meet me every month to make sure I wasn't going crazy (or pregnant...)
  11. In elementary school, I was the class clown, and often got in trouble for putting humor before my classmates' feelings
  12. I didn't like the options available to me, so for next year I created my own Smicha program that combines being a yeshiva bochur/being a shliach/learning smicha, all in one
  13. My family doubted whether I would have enough to say in order to have a blog, and if anyone would actually be interested in my life
  14. I'm a very light sleeper, and I can wake up the first time my alarm goes off.
  15. My favorite color used to be blue. I'm not sure if it still is. It depends if you're asking about my favorite color to wear, vechulu
  16. In school, I loved to read and write, and I always was a decent writer, but we'd have these standardized essay-writing tests (scored 0-4 by three judges) in 4th-7th grade, and I'd always do miserably.
  17. I was in public school for seventh grade. Even though I was most likely a nerd, everyone wanted to be friends with me, since I was the 'cool Jewish kid'. Some boys thought my Yarmulka was stapled to my head...
  18. I became Ba'al Tshuva with influences from others, but the decision was mine. I remember being about 9 and eating in a Treif restaurant, and announcing that I wanted to start keeping kosher always, even outside the house.
  19. The Rosh likes me.
  20. When I am talking excitedly, my voice will sometimes get louder and go higher, and someone will have to shush me.
  21. Most bochurim and shluchim call me the Head Shliach out of the 10 of us here.
  22. Starting from Parshas Noach, this year, I learned 58 sichas in 6 weeks, while fulfilling my shlichus responsibilities also
  23. I used to leave incredibly long messages for my friends, until they complained that they would forget it was a message, and start talking back to me
  24. I'm still not sure if I want to go on Shlichus after I get married
  25. I have to go to dinner now.

Long-Distance Relationships

Did the title grab your attention?

It's hard for bochurim to keep up friendships with everyone we know. Because let's face it. An average bochur meets hundreds of other bochurim, through summers and yeshivas, vechulu.
So therefore I have some friends that I've grown distant with, and our friendships are basically on hold, until the next time we see each other or talk.

The main reason I'm writing this post is for a few specific friends of mine, that aggrevate me so!!!
It could be months that we have not spoken to each other, and one day I'll get in that mood to call people up that I should have called three months ago, and give one of these two (in particular) friends a buzz.

We'll have a nice conversation, and catch up on what we've each been doing, but for these two friends of mine, they will throw it in my face why I haven't called them earlier!!
"Yossi, dude, it's been forever since you last called. What's up with that? Why haven't you called?!?!?"

Excuse me. The very fact that I am speaking to you on the phone is proof of your own similar abilities to speak on the phone as well. You could have called me, moron!! Why is it purely my fault to our lack of communication????

But last week, I called up a different friend of mine who I haven't spoken to in a supremely long time. At the end, I apologized for not calling sooner (as in- last year or the year before...), and he replied, "no, no, no, Yossi. I should have called you, too!"

Now that's a good friend!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

We Belong Together- A poem

I’m the pepper and you’re the salt; You’re the mustard and I’m the ketchup-
I’m the muddy, rugged terrain,
and you’re the old Ford Pickup.

You’re the wrapper and I’m the gum; I’m the bottle and you’re my Snapple Fact-
I’m a bochur’s mashke-stained jacket,
and you’re his smashed up hat.

You’re the cop that pulls people over, and I’m their speeding ticket-
I’m a box of brand new shoes,
and you’re the pack of gel that comes in it.

I'm the Jackson on your twenty; I'm the Lincoln on your five-
I'm the powerlock doors and windows,
and you're the four-wheel drive.

You’re the keyboard, and I’m the mouse; You’re the sync card of my phone-
You’re the many colorful sprinkles,
on my ice cream cone.

I’m the cloud and you’re my rainbow; You’re the sunshine in my sky-
You’re the Monday of my long weekend,
You’re the 4th of my July.

My Trip to Israel, day 11

Shabbos, Day 11
The Last Day.

We went to say Tehillim at the Kosel (for the past four mornings we davened Shacharis there, too), and davened at the Tzemach Tzeddek Shul.
Rabbit Steinshaltz told our tour guide that he didn't want to speak to our group, since he doesn't respect us, since we did no work to get here. When asked that he does speak to people he really doesn't respect, he said we were in between, like sheep. He doesn't respect us, but doesn't disrespect us either.
I had a few good hours of sleep, and then we went back to the Kosel one last time, for Mincha.
We had our last tie-in session, and everyone spoke about their feelings from the trip.
Shalosh Seudos, a quick Ma'ariv, and Havdalah, then onto the bus, off to Ben-Gurion Airport.
It was a 12 hour plane ride, and I slept a maximum of two total hours. The plane had many Taglit groups coming back also. Some had finished their extended trips, and some, like me, were forced to come back to their responsibilities here in America. We had lively discussions about our trip, and I was part of a small deliberation on whether us riding camels constituted the need to check off on our visa papers that we were in contact with domesticated animals, or something like that. We all decided in the end to not list it, because come on, they were camels, and we were all fine, no diseases, no nothing.
Our pilot kept saying stuff like- "We are going from the Land of Milk and Honey to the Land of the Free and Home of the Brave." It was kind of cute.

My Trip to Israel, day 10

Friday, day 10

Depression Day.

This was our last day of touring in Israel.
We went to Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Museum. It will be cliche to say it was inspirational and moving, but of course I have to. It was inspirational and moving.
Before going in, we all sang Ani Ma'amin, which really set the mood. {maybe I'll upload the video so you can watch- me typing this now almost a year later} One thing which really plucked at my emotional strings (is that an expression?) was a video about two different sons during the holocaust. One clip was of a man who said that he and his brother tried carrying their father during a death march. Their father was too old and weak, and was slowing them down, so he told them to leave him. They refused, and carried him much farther. I think in the end he did pass on, but I'm not sure. The next clip was of a man crying about how basically he had not spoken up when they were splitting up his family, men on one side, vechulu, and if he had said something, he could have saved his father, but he didn't.
It was crazy depressing. The monument for the children, the books with all the names, everything. If you didn't cry when you went, I feel sorry for you.
At the end, we went into an auditorium to hear a survivor give his story. It was extremely hard to stay awake for his hour and a half speech, and some guys in my group didn't.
Then we went to Har Herzel, the military cemetary. We heard people talk who had lost family members. Again, to not cry here would not be to not be human. We sang Ani Ma'amin again, and it incredibly mentally exhausting.
After, we went to the Machne Yehuda Shuk in Yerushalayim, and got ready for Shabbos in the Old City.
Friday night we danced our way to the Kosel, drawing many onlookers. We met up with another Lubavitch Birthright group, plus a Mayanot group, and we rocked the Kosel for Kabbalas Shabbos. It was such an awesome experience. After davening, we started dancing with a large group of soldiers, who we lent our black hats to, to go with their black guns.
For the meal, all 3 groups ate together, danced together, and sang together.

My Trip to Israel, part 9

Thursday, day 9

Tel Aviv Day!
We went to Independence Hall, and watched a video about Theodore Herzel and his famous conference.
Then we went to Rabin Square, and learned what exactly went down when...he did.
Then we went to the old city of Yaffo and ate lunch overlooking the beautiful Mediterranean Sea, on which Tel Aviv is situated. After lunch, we took to the streets, and walked its famous flea markets.
We then drove to Kfar Chabad, where we saw 770, and the esrog orchards, and heard Rivkin, the head of the esrog empire.
At night, we had a motivational speaker explain to us how we cannot miss the gorillas in life, and how Attitude=100%. Part of what he showed us was a video about an Israeli who dreamed of making it big in Hollywood. When he did, he then realized that he didn't really want it...or something like that.

My Trip to Israel, Day 8

Wednesday, day 8

Today was Jerusalem Day!
We got a tour of the City of David, a walled section of Yerushalayim where Dovid HaMelech built his palace and city, near the Temple Mount. We saw a video about the histroy of the area, and we went into the tunnels used to channel water into the walled city. The tunnels were dark, narrow, low, and filled with water sometimes up to our hips. It was a lot of fun, and we sang niggunim for most of the time.
Afterward, we went to the archaeological park, where we saw the Southern Wall excavations, and a cool urban simulation of the area during Beis Hamikdash times. It was incredible to stand on the steps outside the Sha'ar Chuldah, on the very same steps that thousands of Yidden enterd the Har HaBayis on, 2,000 years ago.
Then we went to Ammunition Hill, which was an important stronghold of Jordanians that the IDF finally captured in the War of '67. We saw a video there, too.
Then we went to the menorah outside the Knesset Building. The giant menora was a gift from Britain. We didn't go inside the Knesset, but we saw it from behind the gate and glass walls. We all spat in front of it, since we davvened mincha near the menorah (we spit at a part of Aleinu).
For dinner we went out to Korus Al HaEish, at Center 1 mall.
After dinner, we were given a lecture by Michael Lawrence, and eight year Oleh from South Africa who tried to inform us of the dangers Israel faces, and the controversy over Israel's policy of returning prisoners to bring back kidnapped soldiers.
And then- Ben Yehuda Street! When we got off the bus, this young guy came over and offered us free shots and hooka at his bar. It turned out that you needed to buy a really expensive drink in order to get the deal. I saw Cafe Rimon and Frozen Yogurt. I spoke with an Israeli who worked at a grunge/goth store where every article of clothing was black. I watched a minute of a Rebbe video. I tried out a funny handshake with a friend of mine, to applause from the crowd of ice-cream eaters. Too bad we only had one hour.

My Trip to Israel, Day 7

(I'm finally typing this up, so I don't have any blogging responsibilities going into the upcoming summer. What I'm typing are entries I wrote down on the plane ride back from my Birthright trip last summer. This starts the morning after we stayed with the Bedouins)


Tuesday, day 7



We woke up with the four S's: Sore, Stiff, Sick and Sandy.
We davened in the whirling sands of the Judean Desert.
All the other groups had woken up really early in order to hike up Masada at 5:00 AM and see the beautiful sunrise. For our group, waking up before 6 and hiking didn't sound like such an awesome idea, so we had gone in the evening.

Instead of hiking, we went camel riding!! What fun! These are some really strange animals, let me tell you. No, it's the llama that spits. Camels just chew. They chew their cud, and they have huge lower teeth. They are very awkward (which I always thought ironic that word 'awkward' is spelled in an awkward way, with the 'wkw' in the middle...) to ride. Two people sit on either side of their hump (which does not contain water), and when they stand from a sitting psition, they stand their back legs up first, and you have to hold on tight not to fall off.

Then we went for another hike in the Negev, I think. It was nice, and at the end, it finished with lots of ladders that went up the side of a canyon.

We went to Tel Azeka, which if I remember is where Dovid fought Golias, and then later to Ben-Gurion's grave and museum. (I can tell you more info about that later.)

What I have to do in order to blog

To be blogging this evening, I had to sit and watch about a half hour's worth of footage about Avigdor Liberman, Obama and Netanyahu, vechulu.

Israeli politics is something that I am not so fascinated in, but I sat through it all so that I could be typing this now, and communicating with the people of cyberspace.

Now that you know what I went through, I hope you'll be a tad more appreciative of my blog.

Have you ever found yourself talking to inanimate objects?

I've compiled a short list of inanimate objects that I've recalled speaking to. I'll probably add to the list if I remember more, and my readers probably have more of their own.

  1. Traffic Lights- "Turn already" is usually what I grunt at the obnoxious red light. And b'chlal, I always believed there should be a "Turn left on red if you think you can make it" rule in driving.
  2. Cell Phone- "Shhhh!" I'll try shushing my phone when it starts vibrating or making noises when the environment requires silence.
  3. Toilet in host's house- "Come on, please don't do this to me...I'll do anything, please no, no, no!!" Perhaps the most embarrassing moment possible is to flood the bathroom at a house you are a guest at. Once you see the water level coming back up towards you, well, that is one of the worst feelings EVER!! You start pleading with the toilet, and hope there is no expensive rug right outside.
  4. Chair- "Sorry" I normally am good about these things, but very rarely I'll catch myself apologizing to chairs that I bump into.

21, and lovin' it!

I'm now 21.
I'll give you a few moments to let that sink in.
I had two farbrengens, one in Roseville, CA with my fellow shluchim, and one last night, with the mesivta bochurim, back here in LA.

I've now bought a total of four big bottles of Mashke (3 smirnoff, 1 skyy). And no, I don't plan on continuing my mashke count.

So, I'm not sure there's anything left I need to experience that I wasn't able to when I was not 21. I could have jumped off planes, voted, gotten a death sentence and bought cold medicine all when I was still under 21.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

I lied

If you read my last post, you'll see I wasn't so honest. I guess this will be the last post this week. Sorry for the confusion.
I've been officially 21 now since last shabbos, and I'm sorry to say, still have not purchased alcohol.
But not for lack of effort.
I finally went tonight to Ralphs to buy some mashke, but the prices were higher than what I could have gotten at Bevmo, for example.
Hence the dilemma: The-Inyan-Of-Buying-Alcohol-Now-That-You're-21 versus being a cheap Jew.
I bought water for myself instead, and soy milk for a friend.
I'll go to BevMo tomorrow, bli neder.

I wish you all...

This will probably be the only post of mine before my birthday, so I wish you guys all the brochos, b'gashmius u'b'ruchnius, the Aibeshter should fullfil all of your heart's desires, and we should all be blessed in revealed good, and give the Rebbe lots of Chassidishe Nachas.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Why so few?

I would be posting a whole bunch of stuff now, but I didn't get as much time as I'd like.
The main thing I need to finish with ya'll is my trip to Israel, almost a year ago!!!
Anyway, I hope to blog a lot this week, so we'll see.
In the meantime, keep your noses clean, and stay out of trouble.
I hope to for sure be back in order to give you my birthday brachos before the coming shabbos...

The tail of a lion

We learned in Pirkei Avos today that it is better to be the tail of a lion than the head of a fox.
In a goyish book of proverbs and sayings I once read, it had the following:
It's better to be the head of a fox than the tail of a lion.

I don't need to explain how shkutz-like that attitude is...

Pointy Shoes

With the style for shoes getting pointier and pointier, shouldn't new building codes ensure that steps be built with a broader area, so the whole shoe can rest on each step, without scuffing up the tips?