Thursday, December 31, 2009

The American Bochur

Speaking of America-
The main mashpia for the mesivta in Los Angeles is Rabbi Shanowitz.
Last year, he was speaking once with a boy in shiur beis, who was my chavrusa for gemara l'iyun.

For those of you who have never spoken to a yeshiva mashpia before, I better clarify something before we move on.

The mashpia calls you in to his office, but knows that most likely you will not suddenly break down and spill all your secrets and beg him to help you choose a more productive and chassidish way of life. So an inexperienced mashpia will just sit there staring at you, hoping you start talking. You do, by the way, but just to be polite. You don't want to hurt your mashpia's feelings and cause him to think he can't do his job.
A mashpia with just a little bit of experience and know-how will understand that to get you to speak about something serious, you must first be speaking at all. And sometimes, a sharp mashpia can pinpoint a problem as you are leaning back in your chair, rattling off your daily schedule and lunch menu.

Okay, now you're ready to continue.

So most mashpi'im will ask you who your chavrusahs are, what you are learning, etc.

In this boy's conversation with his mashpia, the topic therefore landed on your's truly.
My chavrusa told me later what the Rabbi said about me:

"You are very lucky to have Yossi as your chavrusah. He is a very good bochur. Perhaps not the wildest or 'fruchneyucht' (that's my word. I really don't know exactly what the Rabbi said, this was the basics...). Instead he is the epitome of an American Bochur. A good head, mekushar, likes to learn, but still has that American balei'batishkeit and mentality."
Or something like that.
It was an endearing compliment, with some sharp edges of truth that could cut me if I wasn't aware of them already.

I'm thinking about making a new series of dolls, based on the American Girl ones, but American Bochur dolls.

The American Dream

People all over the globe come to America pursuing the great American Dream.
In our yeshiva, we have a few South Africans, doing just that.

One boy had placed a target bag on top of the dryer.
Dryer heated up.
Bag heated up.
Red targets on the Target bag started running (not away, just around).
The South African protagonist placed his wet, laundered clothes on top of the dryer, in that awful limbo state before it would go into the dryer.
Said wet, laundered clothes came into contact with run red targets, and collided, causing the clothes to get red streaks.

The boy then called up Target, to complain about their bags.
When I pointed out to him that their usage might not include melting them and sticking them to clothes, he sat me down, got a far-away look in his eyes, and I could almost swear I saw a tear, as he told me, "This is America. I can complain about whatever I want, even if it's all my fault."

That is the American Dream!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Vayechi Quiz

In the last parsha of Beraishis, Yaakov blesses his sons. Before getting to his sons, he first sees his two grandsons, Menashe and Efraim. Menashe is the oldest, but Yaakov insists on placing his right hand on Efraim, to give him the better blessing. Efraim's descendents will become greater than Menashe's.

The Question: Yaakov is right now giving the blessings. Why couldn't he just give Menashe the better bracha and cause Menashe's descendents to become greater!!??

The Points: If you give me the correct answer, I'll reward you with 300 YossiPoints!!!
Bonus Points: Any Follower who comments will automatically receive 50 YossiPoints!!
Hint: This isn't my question. The Rebbe asks this question, but I didn't see it in any sicha on parshas Vayechi.

That's it. Good luck.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Guess who?

Last week, I visited one of my camp directors from the past few summers.
He has a bunch of cute kids, ka"h, and his three-year-old twin girls had their birthday party in the summer. We called it their upsherinish.
Anyway, at his house, one of the twins went to her father with a Guess Who game board, with one character flipped up. She proudly showed it to her tatty, and explained in Yiddish how the girl in the picture looked exactly like her sister Shaina!
Rabbi B. just laughed and ruffled her hair.
After a moment, his daughter said (and I'll translate), "But with glasses." A moment later: "And with curly hair."

I was interested to see the picture of her twin sister, just with glasses and curly hair.

The girl in the picture perhaps would have looked like Shaina, without the glasses and without the curly hair, but maybe also if she wasn't black.
Just an observation.

Friday, December 25, 2009

So is height everything or not?

A quick summary of a nice sicha in chelek yud for parshas vayigash:

It says that when Yosef revealed his identity to his brothers, he and Binyomin hugged, and cried on each other's neck. Why is the term for Binyomin's neck in the plural form? Rashi explains that Yosef cried for the destruction of the two Batei Mikdash that would be built in Binyomin's portion of Eretz Yisroel, and Binyomin was crying for the destruction of Mishkan Shiloh that would later be built in Yosef's portion.

  • Why were they not crying for their own destroyed Temples?
  • How does the neck symbolize a Beis HaMikdash?
Glad you asked.
The Beis Hamikdash was built at the top of the world, on the Har HaBayis. It wasn't at the very peak, though. There was a spring (Ein Itam) that was 23 amos higher than it.
  • If height is everything, why wouldn't the Beis HaMikdash's location be at the highest part of the mountain?
  • If height does not show importance, why did it need to be located on a high altitude to begin with?
The sages have a saying that the most beautiful part of the ox is its neck.

  • What's so special about a neck? How could it be on a higher level than the head?
Glad you asked that, as well.
The head is meant to accomplish two things. To give chayus to the rest of the body, and to send its intellect down to the heart to create midos and such.
If not for the neck, the body would get no Hashpa'ah from the head. So the point of the neck is an intermediary between the head and the body, and in view of the whole working machine, in a way is more important.

Our body is a microcosm of the world around us. Our nefesh haElokis is our own small Beis Hamikdash. The purpose is to spread the G-dly light of our soul into the rest of our body. Our head represents the part of our neshama which is a pure piece of G-d, but which has no relation to our nefesh habahamis and guf. The neck represents the very purpose of our neshama coming into our body, not to remain in its own G-dly holiness, but to postively effect our body and refine our animalistic soul.

Okay, so we still didn't explain why Yosef and Binyomin were not crying for their own destroyed Temples. Let's add a similar question:
  • When Yosef reunites with his father Yakov in this week's parsha, Yosef cries on his father's neck, but Yakov sheds no tears. Rashi says it was because he was saying Shema, but the Zohar says simply the reason Yosef was crying was again for the Beis HaMikdash. According to the Zohar, why wasn't Yakov crying for the Beis HaMikdash, as well? To Rashi's explanation for Yakov's lack of tears, it is a compliment of his great control over his emotions; he overcame the surge of emotions caused by reuniting with his son after so many years, and was still able to concentrate and say the Shema. But according to the Zohar- Yakov did not cry at all for the destruction of the Beis HaMikdash!?!?
The answer is simple, but its simplicity does not reduce its powerful message.
Crying only makes you feel better. It doesn't solve the problem. (Unless they are tears of tshuva...) As the saying goes, you don't cry over spilt milk. What do you do? You clean it up, that's what.
Yosef didn't cry over his own Churban, because it was in his portion, and he couldn't waste time crying about it. For the Churban of the Batei Mikdash in Binyomin's portion, sure Yosef could help in little ways. However, at the end of the day, it's something only Binyomin has the ability to fix and take care of.
Yakov is the father of all Israel, so the Beis Hamikdash for which Yosef was crying over when they reunited, was in Yakov's portion obviously, so Yakov didn't waste any time crying. He started working on fixing the problem. What was he doing?
He was saying Shema! Our tefillos are in the place of Karbanos. One who recites the Shema is as if he brought an Olah Offering.

The Rebbe says that when one sees a spiritual Churban happening inside your friend, you must try and help him, and rebuke him (in a soft way), if need be. Ultimately, though, to correct your bad behavior is upon you and you alone. Others can only cry for you, and daven on your behalf.

Another lesson is that even though the Avos saw with Ruach HaKodesh that the Temples would be destroyed, they still did everything in their power to rip up this bad decree. A similar story we find with Chizkiah HaMelech, who was told from a Prophet!! that he would die for his misconduct. Chizkiah turned to the wall, prayed, did Tshuva, and lived 15 more years!!

Anyway, it turns out this was more of a chazarah of the whole sicha, instead of a summary. Sorry for tricking you. I wasn't expecting to go on for this long, but hey, got carried away.

Have a Good Shabbos!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Can you do ANYTHING???

I'll make this quick. None of the usual 'I was minding my own business when...' stuff.

This morning at the end of Shacharis, my davening chavrusah across the table from me asked me, "Yossi, can you tie tzitzis strings tonight?"
I don't talk while wearing tefillin, or in between rashi and rabeinu tam's, so I shook my head No. I used to know how, but in my old age...
He looked at me, and asked, "Can you do anything???"
Now, I was taken aback. This boy was normally very friendly with me. I couldn't speak, so in my mind I made a very big Tzccchhhhh! (If you're not sure what that is, it's my fault I didn't know how to transliterate the sound properly. Basically it's the arrogant sheesh.) Seriously, what's his problem with me? What's his beef? Oh, so I can't tie tzitzis, it means I stink at everything? Didn't I learn sichos with him after seder? Before getting further upset, I realized that life is tough for lots of people, and it could be he had hard things he was going through, hence his quick attitude.
So I just smiled guiltily, shrugged, and shook my head No.

It took me a second to realize that he was asking because of nittel nacht (and no, nittel doesn't mean 'nothing'. It probably means birth, like in the words prenatal, and neonate.). He was asking if one could do anything, he didn't really mean me specifically.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

To my kwanzaa-celebrating readers

My father has an African American co-worker (who I doubt is African at all. He's probably more American than I am, but what can you do? I want to be politically correct, although it means I'm geographically incorrect.). My father once asked him if he celebrates Kwanzaa.
When he replied in the negative, he explained to my father, "When you go to college with the guy who makes the holiday up, it's hard to celebrate it."

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Happy Holidays

The Dvar Malchus is always a different color every week.

A few years back, the color for the week of Kratzmach was green, and the week immediately preceding it was red.

That's all.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

A Bochur In Lubavitch PODCAST!!??

Seriously, how cool would it be if I made a podcast for my blog?
I mean, no matter how entertaining it is to read my posts and stories, to hear them first hand would be much more awesome. Maybe I could team up with some other well known blogging celebrities, and make it a lubav (I don't get why some people like to call us lubab with a 'b' at the end. It doesn't make sense, and it doesn't sound as good. It makes me think of shish kabob) blog podcast.

I know the answer already, though. The only cool part is just the idea of doing it. I can't see myself actually getting around to doing it, or it being any good. Oh well. Let me know what you think.

Monday, December 14, 2009

I didn't forget about you

Some stuff has been going on, which has kept my mind occupied.
I do have some good Chanuka mivtzoim stories to share with you, from this year, and from years past.
I also want to write about a different, sad topic, but maybe I'll wait until after the Festival of Lights to share that piece.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Learn this sicha, or else!

I'm giving everyone a week. Today is Sunday. You must learn my favorite sicha on Miketz, the first sicha of chelek Tes Vov. Go.

So they say

They say that if you bite the inside of your lip, you most likely will continue to bite the same area about twenty times over the next three days.

If you've never heard anyone say that, then just go ahead and consider me your they.

Life

is tough

Saturday, December 12, 2009

If you want your privacy

Facebook recently changed their privacy settings, you've got to go back in and change it the way you want.
So most of us have been open to anyone we're not friends with, to look at our pictures, vechulu.

Just a tip to anyone who values his privacy, to check your settings.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Jewish teen NOT captured by Arabs

Last year before shabbos parshas Vayeishev, a lot of us got texts to say tehillim for a Yosef Ben Rochel, who had been kidnapped and traded to Arabs. Israeli intelligence believed his whereabouts to be in Egypt.
It was only late into the Friday night Seuda that one of us realized it was a joke. Yosef Ben Rochel was from the parsha.

We didn't find the humor in good taste.

So in case you get any similar text, think about what is happening in the parsha, and if it sounds similar.

Poem of light

The darkness descends to the world to contend
With the light we're trying to ignite.
It faintly flickers and the shadows get thicker,
Is it strong enough to last through the night?

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Yossi Jacobson on the cover of GQ magazine

I'm not talking about the heintiker Yossi Jacobson.
I'm talking about the original Yossi Jacobson. Yosef Ben Yakov. Joseph, son of Jacob, son of Isaac (for symmetrical reasons, it would have been a lot cooler if Yitzchak's English equivalent started with a J), son of Abraham.

He is 17 years old, and has the life. He's gorgeous, and knows it. He does his hair, and puts on eyeliner. He has the classiest style of fashion. He wears his Kutones Pasim, the most dashing hand-crafted coat, like he owned the place. He is adored by his father, and spoiled.

A tragedy occurred that not even Shakespeare could have envisioned. 10 of his brothers sought to kill him. Only after cold feet and quick thinking, did his brother Reuven try to save him, and have him thrown into a pit. Later his brother Yehudah had them sell him to Arabs, and tell their father that Yosef was mauled by a wild animal.

In Egypt, Yosef did what he did best- work hard and gain the admiration of those around him. He especially caught the attention of his master's wife, whom we'll call Mrs. Potifar.
Yosef was drop-dead gorgeous. The cutest guy in all of Egypt. Girls would climb up on walls just to get a peak at him. He made heads turn.
Mrs. Potifar tried everything she could to seduce Yosef. Of course, Yosef resisted temptation.
Mrs. Potifar's friends couldn't stand to listen to her complain about how there could be such a good-lucking heartthrob working for her, but who would have nothing to do with her, and her friends started to doubt her sincerity.
She invited all of her friends to lunch, and gave out oranges, with knives to peel them. After a few minutes, she called Yosef into the room, gave him some sort task, and he left.
The women who had been entranced by Yosef's beauty all looked down back to their oranges- they had cut their fingers with the knives, and were bleeding, but had failed to notice!

Mrs. Potifar finally got her chance to be alone with Yosef, and after lots of inner turmoil, Yosef overcame temptation, ran out of the house, was framed for the crime he did not commit, and was thrown into jail.

To my limited knowledge, this was the first test of its kind for our forefathers. It was a test of lust and temptation. They had been through tests of other kinds, like of their faith, and for money.
Because of how close he came to sinning, he actually lost 10 tribes that would come from him (if you don't know how or why, this aint the place for me to tell you), and instead had only Menashe and Efraim.

How did he pass this test?

Yosef was about to give in, but saw his father's image, realized he would be ruining the connection to his father and Am Yisroel, and found the strength he needed. I remember reading somewhere that he actually looked in the mirror, and saw his own face. He was similar in appearance to his father, so looking at himself reminded him of his father.
Even if that isn't true, sometimes all we need to do is take a good look at ourselves. Oftentimes, if we would take a minute longer to think about whatever we want to do, we'll think more about the consequences of such actions.
We just need to look in the mirror, but not like Yosef was doing, to curl his hair. To look in the mirror to really see yourself.

Bringing Light to Jersey

IY"H, I'll be doing chanuka mivztoim over in central Jersey, where I was a counselor for a couple of summers. It'll be of the Bikkur Bayis variety, mainly.
I hope to be able to make it up to East Brunswick, and Highland Park, to visit my campers. That will really surprise them. Most think that they won't see you until the reunion.
Actually, one of my campers was here a few Shabbosim ago, davening in Beis Shmuel with his father and brothers. I went down to meet him, and he was completely shocked to see me. He wouldn't shake my hand. The only thing he said to me was, "What are you doing here?!"
I was a little saddened about how shy he was and how we couldn't speak any more, but I understood. He is only eight years old.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

A Chanukah Sicha

In the V'al HaNissim prayer, it says the Jews lit the candles of the courtyards of Your Mikdash.
Ummm, what were they doing lighting the menorah in the courtyard? The menorah's place was in the Kodesh, the Holy!

The Chassam Sofer explains that since the Kodesh itself had been defiled and dirty, the Jews wanted to light the menorah outside, where it was clean. This was better in a way, says the Chassam Sofer, since now more Jews would see the miracle of the oil.

The Rebbe asks a bunch of questions on this explanation:
Does it really make sense that the Greeks only defiled the Kodesh, and left the rest of the Beis HaMikdash intact? The Courtyard was surely desecrated as well!
If the Courtyard was defiled, then why would the Jews clean it first, before the Kodesh? The Kodesh and Kodesh HaKadoshim certainly must have been cleaned first, so there was no need to move the menora outside into the still dirty Courtyard.
How were they supposed to know a miracle would happen in the first place with the oil, to give cause for them to move it outside to the Courtyard for everyone to see?
Finally, it says Courtyards, not the Courtyard, but all the courtyards, all over the Temple Mount, they were lighting candels.

The Rebbe says that we are forced to conclude that this is not referring to the miracle of the oil in the Temple Menorah.

If so, then nowhere in the V'al HaNissim are we mentioning the miracle of oil!!??? How could that be??
Isn't the oil miracle just as big, if not more miraculous than the victory of the war?

Now let's take a look at the gemara in Mesechta Shabbos which discusses Chanukah. The gemara asks, for what did the sages establish the holiday of Chanukah?

What do you know? The gemara says it was for the miracle of the oil! The miraculous victory of the war is not even mentioned! The gemara just says that the Jews won the war, and went to clean up the Beis HaMikdash, and couldn't find oil... The victory of the war is only mentioned in the gemara as part of the story and an introduction to the real miracle: the oil!

If this was such a great miracle, why wasn't it put into the V'Al Hanissim prayer?
And why wasn't the miraculous defeat of the Greek army in the hands of the few given a more proper place in the Gemara?

To understand this, we first have to take a look at what the Greek's problem with the Jews was, in the first place. (All of you know this already, so I'll make it quick.)

The Greek civilization was all about the body. In two months the winter Olympics will be taking place, dating back to the Greeks. They worshipped Man. The body and the mind.
Who's the smartest nation? The Jews, obviously. Who's the best looking nation? Hmmm.... big noses, sidelocks and beards are coming back into style..
But anyway, the Greeks had no problem with the Jews practicing Yiddishkeit, as long as it sharpened the mind, etc. They had no problem with most of the Mitzvos, either, as long as they made sense, like Don't Steal.
The Greeks did have a problem with the G-d part of Yiddishkeit. "Lihashkicham Torasecha, L'ha'aviram M' Chukei Retzoinecha...." The fact that we were learning Torah because it was G-dly, and how we were doing even mitzvos that did not make sense at all, only to fulfill G-d's will.

It was a battle against our souls, not our bodies. Purim, on the other hand, was a war against our Guf, but Chanuka was a war against our Neshama.

What represents spirtuality the most? What physical creation in this world is closest to something spiritual?

Light.

If not for the confines of the atmosphere, etc., if you would shine a light, it would continue forever. Like a laser.

The miracle of our spiritual salvation was the most important part of Chanukah. That's why we commemorate it by lighting the menorah for eight nights.

To commemorate the physical salvation, which was still something to be thankful for, the sages established the recitation of Hallel, and V'al Hanissim.
V'al Hanissim purposely does not mention anything about the miracle of the oil, because in light of that miracle of salvation, our physical victory holds no importance whatsoever. We would not be able to mention anything about the war, had we also mentioned the oil lasting for eight days.

Then what were the Jews doing lighting candles all over the place throughout the Beis Hamikdash? It was another form of praise and thanksgiving. There is a custom to have candles in a shul, for the same reason.


Get it?

The sicha is from chelek Chof Hey, and I suggest you look it up yourself, if you have the time.

Let life pass you by, there's always youtube

Feel free to create a bumper sticker with that.

Recently I've caught up on a few things in life that passed me by.
I finally got around to reading the transcript of Netanyahu's speech to the U.N. What an excellent speech! It was so powerful. I had tears in my eyes, I did. I had righteous anger in my heart, I did.

Just last night I finally watched Bush dodging the shoes. He moves faster than a speeding bullet, that man! The best part was actually hearing him answer the questions following the episode of the projectiled shoe (and projectiled is not a word, I know. If I can make bumper sticker slogans, I can make up new words, also.). Bush kept saying (I'm paraphrasing-), "Guys, he threw a shoe. It's over. I have no idea why he did it, he must have some sort of position. By you asking all these questions, you're giving him the publicity he wanted. It's just a guy who threw shoes. Really."

I also watched them pack 15 people into a smartcar.

I watched Obama killing the mosquito.

Baruch Hashem, the internet has allowed us to catch up on life at our own leisurely pace.

Sour Grass and Greener Grapes

Okay, for your contemplation:

Sour Grapes versus The Grass Is Greener On The Other Side

Sour Grapes means that you view the thing you wanted but couldn't get as something you really never wanted anyway. What you have is better, although it may not be true. You're just saying that so you don't feel bad.
To say the grass is greener means that you view what you don't have as what's better, although it's probably not true.

Are these two complete opposites? Which is a better attitude to have?
Is it better to falsely think what you have is better, or to be optimistic about what's out there, what you don't have?
So that's what I was thinking about, trying to go to sleep last night.

Let me know what you think.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Poem of love

She lies dying in my once strong but now helpless hands
She weighs next to nothing, she's too frail and weak to stand
Her form is blurred, but not from the veil of tears in my eyes
The harder she weeps, the more she melts and dies-
my dying snowflake.

So little to write, too bad for yall

Oftentimes, I'll be awake in the wee hours of the morning. Sometimes coming back from a farbrengen. Other times, just staying up and wasting time online.
Either way, but especially the former, when I've had some l'chaim, I feel the desire to post something. Anything.
Which is pretty unfortunate for yall, sorry to say.
For instance, you have to read this very post (or introduction to a post, if I ever get past it to a post of substance (abuse!!)- I couldn't resist. Sorry.).

Oh, it's not like I have nothing to tell you about (it sure seems like it, Yossi...), but I don't know... When you know you should go to sleep, your publishing priorities change.
I want to share a poem with you, but I don't feel in the mood now. Perhaps tomorrow.
I want to talk about friendships, especially the building and development. And how I've realized there could be a total stranger to me, somewhere halfway around the world (I'm pretty sure you can never actually be more than halfway around the world), who knows me more intimately than some of my close friends, because of this here blog.
This last idea is scary and welcoming at the same time.
One of my closest buddies got engaged, mazal tov. I could write about that. (You just did, Yossi! (I wish I didn't choose to make this an anonymous blog. That would have sounded a lot better if I had written, "You just did, Blank!" (With 'blank' referring to my last name, which would have been replacing the 'Yossi'. I hope you really did not need me to explain that to you. Oh well.)

Anyway, it appears I'm at the end of my post. And before I forget- )).

Friday, December 4, 2009

Of Brothers and Mothers

The reunion of Yaakov and Eisav was sure to be the most dramatic and climactic episode of that time. The enmity and rivalry of these brothers was perhaps matched only by the first brothers in history, Kayin and Hevel, whose rivalry was short-lived, as was Hevel.
The world was anxiously waiting to see what would take place at this meeting. Over 30 years earlier, Eisav had vowed that murder would be the first thing awaiting his brother. After all these years, Yaakov was unsure now of his brother's intentions. Yaakov, for one, was ready to put the past behind them, and concentrate on their future.
Chassidus explains that Yaakov had prepared himself and his necessary portion of the world, for the arrival of Moshiach. If only Eisav had done the same, this reunion would herald in the era of Redemption.
Hence the anticipation for the reunion. What would it be? Yaakov and his family get murdered by Eisav and his small army- the end of Am Yisroel? Or the beginning of the times of Moshiach?

What happened was neither. The anticlimactic meeting did not end the Golus, or Yaakov's family. Instead, Yaakov was saved from severe neck trauma, and the two clans parted ways.
The next time Yaakov's descendants will reunite with Eisav's, will be when Moshiach finally comes (before this Shabbos, obviously).

The meeting would have had a completely different outcome, had Yaakov realized how special his daughter was.

Yaakov didn't want his daughter Dinah to be seen and taken by Eisav, so Yaakov very gently and delicately stuffed her into a box, to hide her.
He was punished for doing this, as commentators tell us that she had the ability to bring Eisav back to the right path, and do Tshuva. Yaakov's punishment for hiding his daughter was to have her captured and violated by Shchem.
(What!? Yaakov's punishment was meted out through his daughter having to go through hell? How is that even fair for Dinah?- a question for a different time, sorry. I'm on a time/budget/creativity/wifi restraint (pick one))

What was Dinah doing so close to the city of Shchem in the first place?
She went out to watch the non-Jewish girls of the city.

Rashi says that the reason the possuk says that she was the daughter of Leah who was born to Yaakov (why mention her mother?), was because her mother had the same nature, to go out and leave the home, like we see how Leah approached Yaakov in the field, and told him she had "purchased" the right to be with him, in exchange for her son's flowers...
"Like mother, like daughter", Rashi says.

Most people take this to insinuate their immodest tendencies to leave the confines and modesty of their home.

To make a long story short, the Rebbe explains in a sicha on the Parsha in Chelek Lamed Hey, that we shouldn't chas v'shalom think Leah or her daughter Dinah had any negative, immodest qualities.

There are two general types of Avoda: a tzadik, and a Ba'al Tshuva.
Rochel represented the tzadik, someone complete in his Torah and Mitzvos. This was physically expressed in her beauty. The Torah says how she had a perfect form.
Leah represented the Ba'al Tshuva. She was always crying, and was depressed how she felt despised and hated. Almost like someone who sins and feels far from G-dliness.
(Yaakov was the Ish Tam, Yoshev Ohel. He was the level of Tzadik, which is why he loved Rochel more...)

So it was within Leah's capacity and capability to help refine the world, which is the job of a Ba'al Tshuva-to elevate the darkness and negativity to Kedusha.
But she didn't like her job description. She defiantly did not want to marry Eisav.

Dinah, however, inherited from her mother ("Like mother, like daughter", from Rashi...remember?) this form of Avodah, and she actually cherished her purpose. She recognized the talents which she was born with, and tried to influence the world around her.

She would have been able to get Eisav to do Tshuva, had she been allowed to marry him.
She would have been able to get the people of Shchem to join the household and philosophy of Yaakov's, if not for Hashem punishing Yaakov, and starting a series of events which led to the whole city's male population being massacred. (Why were they all deserving death? Yaakov's sons were bloodthirsty murderers! Is this what Judaism is all about!!??- That's in a different sicha. Don't worry, the Rebbe has everything under control, and can answer any question.)

The Rebbe points out that part of Dinah's efforts were brought to fruition. The men of the city did circumcise themselves....before they were killed. But also, what do you think happened with all the women? They were taken as maidservants, and did end up in Yaakov's household!

The Rebbe says that a clear lesson we must take from the story is: If a woman has certain talents that can help bring Jewish women back to Yiddishkeit, they must do everything they can to accomplish this. Obviously, the Rebbe says, this must be done in the most Tznius way, as such that even outside the home, it is apparent that "Kol Kevuda Bas Melech Pnima"- the glory of a princess is on the inside.

And since women naturally are kinder, softer, gentler, and more caring than men, and this approach often works to bring someone back to their heritage more than through arguments and fighting (the way of men. "Ish Darkoi Lichboish"), then women should utilize these gifts that Hashem gave them, to go on mivtzoim and to help bring the light of Judaism to the world.


Good Shabbos!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Rubashkin

I just read this article on COL.

An incredible article. Everyone should read it.

Of course, Mi Ani U'Mah Ani to assume I'm anybody important enough to link to COL, as if you needed my link to see it and read it on your own, but still...

I really hope everything works out.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

A hard bochurish quiz, 2

First, make sure to go back to the first few questions of this quiz, and let me know what you think the answers are, now that the comments are enabled again.

Here are a few more questions. Try to guess which answer a bochur would choose:

3. Would a bochur rather have a pair of solid black pants, or pants with a pinstripe?

A) Solid black. It draws less attention, and they can be worn for a week straight without invoking hygiene and laundry questions.
B) Pinstripes. These are classier. In the repressive world of the white-shirt-dark-pants uniform of yeshiva, this is the only way to express yourself and show your style.
C) It doesn't matter. Both. Neither. Whatever his mother buys him, that's what he'll wear.
D) Pinstripe. If the pants look a little nicer, he can get away with wearing them and his davening jacket on shabbos, and hope nobody realizes he isn't wearing a suit.

4. You see a bochur learning from a Dvar Malchus, but the cover is missing. Why is it missing?

A) Because of the high volume of usage over the week, the wear and tear, etc.
B) He stole it from another bochur, who had thought that by writing his name on the front, it would impede the very theft that has occurred.
C) It must have been a pink cover...
D) He was catching up on old Rambam from an earlier week (or month), and he didn't want others to notice it wasn't 'The Color of the Week.'