I was at Burlington Coat Factory a few weeks ago, and found a ski cap I thought might come in handy (like if there is a blizzard). It did not have a price tag on it, so when I came to the check out counter, the woman needed to call in someone to do a price check.
She picked up her phone, and her voice was heard throughout the store, "Baby Depot to register 4, baby depot to register 4!"
Blushing, I told her I actually took it from the Men's department.
She held up my ski cap, inspecting it with a suspicious look. In doing so, she also allowed everyone behind me in line to judge me as well.
Skeptical, she picked up the phone again and said, "Cancel on Baby Depot. Can I get Men's to register 4?"
Can I have all young ladies between the ages of, oh, let's say: 18 and 24, please step forward.
If you are single, please take one more step forward.
Hmmm. Still a lot to choose from.
Okay, I got it. If you are not a photographer, please take two steps back.
I've decided I'll be better off marrying a photographer. This way our engagement announcement will be an article with a nice picture, like this one, instead of the paltry two liners that commoners generally receive.
In 1414, we pay for our room and board. Parking spots are not included.
I'll be needing one soon, you see.
Now that they are throwing in a car, along with the inflated ego, as prizes for this year's Jewish Star, I have no choice but to enter.
Now I need to choose which song I'll sing, and whether to film my video in black and white.
Each one of you, when standing in line at a water fountain, thinks: "Gosh, I'm really the only one who knows how to put my lips incredibly close to the fountain without touching it! It's gross when the people in front of me do it..."
On Shabbos, I walked past a neighborhood called Nottingham Forest. This got me thinking of Robin Hood. How warped our education is.
Why in the world did we accept the idea that Robin Hood was a hero? Steal from the rich, give to the poor. ????? How is that good? Even if the rich man is mean, he deserves to lose his money? Shouldn't it have been something more along the lines of: Convince the city to help provide vocational training skills for the poor. ????
I was going to design a cover for a fake Kovetz Limud that I mentioned in my previous post. Alas, I am quite busy these days.
If you want to know, the title was going to be: וואס איז גישען אין וויגעס- בלייבט אין וויגעס
For anyone who hasn't heard yet, DansDeals is arranging this year's Chanuka Mivtzoim.
Every bochur has two choices, Las Vegas or Cancun.
As of now, there are close to 50 bochurim going to Las Vegas for Chanukah. For this reason, there will be a Rosh Yeshiva and Mashpia flying with them, to set up a temporary, week-long yeshiva. An Ohel-style permanent tent will be set up right on the Strip, for bochurim to spend their daytime hours learning. A kovetz limud is being printed, and this blog will have a sneak peak!
A large refrigerated truck, like the ones that are outside 770 for Tishrei, has already started to make its way across the country.
Always the independent one, you won't see me in the lobby of the Bellagio this Chanuka.
A shliach is flying me down to Houston, Texas! The one condition I gave was that I be taken to a cowboy hat store. (Pictures definitely to follow.)
We are looking for other websites to sponsor this year's Purim and Pesach Shlichus....
I'm 4/5 a Rabbi, mazal tov to me, and my future congregation/disciples and future rebbetzin.
I actually had to run out of the Yichud Room (where our test was being held), in the middle of the test, in order to make it to my Teacher Training class on time.
I still did well, B"H.
Yosef knew that his brothers had intentions to kill him, and yet he still inquired after them, as per his father's instructions. Would his father want him to put himself at risk for this task? No, but Yosef went anyway.
How could Yosef put himself in such a dangerous situation, just for the mitzvah of Kibbud Av (honoring his father)? We know that there are only three mitzvos of which we must never transgress, even at the threat of death: murder, idolatry, and adultery. While honoring one's father is very noble, we are not required to give up our lives for it.
On the contrary, according to many opinions, we are not allowed to give up our life for a mitzvah that is not one of the Big Three!
So how could Yosef knowingly go to his brothers?
Yosef felt that it was worth it to show his brothers the ends he would go to, to honor his father's wishes.
Yosef saw that his brothers lacked the proper respect for their father, Yaakov. Yosef was right. The main reason his brothers hated him was because their father loved him in particular. They should have respected their father's love, but they didn't.
In such a case, if your motive is not for the mitzvah itself, but to strengthen your fellow Jews' observance of Torah and Mitzvos, such an act is permitted. (As an example for this, we see that the Mekoshesh Eitzim gave up his life in order to show the Yidden in the desert how severe it is to break the Shabbos.)
This ultimate level of self-sacrifice is also a prominent part of the story of Chanukah.
The law requires Jews to die, rather than transgress certain mitzvos. Were the Chashmona'im, however, allowed to wage war on the Greeks?
The simple answer is that which we have discussed already. They were proving to the Jewish people that Judaism and G-dliness is worth living for, worth fighting for, and worth dying for.
This ultimate mesirus nefesh was rewarded by Hashem through the finding of the pure olive oil they could use to light the menorah. Although according to various laws, the Jews would have been Halachically permitted to light the menorah with ordinary oil, they miraculously found a jug which still had the Kohen Gadol's seal on it. For their greatness and ultimate self-sacrifice, which went above and beyond the letter of the law, they got the purest and greatest type of oil, which also was beyond the law (as mentioned, they could have lit with regular olive oil).
-From a sicha I learned today, waiting for my chavrusa, in Chelek Lamed Hey.
My blog is a little boring, I think. Lots of words, not so many pictures.
This photo was taken on my Merkos Shlichus last Pesach, in Colorado. We drove through some gorgeous mountains to a tiny city called Telluride. It was freezing cold when we were posing near this lake, on the side of the highway.
This is a box with candy in it. I filled a box with over 25 pounds of candy and nosh to send to the boy I learn over the phone with as part of MyShliach, under Merkos. This was a birthday present, he was turning 12. Don't assume I only wanted him to have rotten teeth. I also put in the Hebrew/English volume of Hayom Yom.
When I was on Shlichus in the yeshiva in L.A., the shluchim took a trip up to San Francisco. Here's my friend slowly making his way down Lombard Street (the really curvy and steep street).
This is an ostrich, attacking our car in a safari at a Six Flags in New Jersey. Don't worry, we were safe in our car. But the baby in the car next to us was becoming giraffe food, offered by her parents, overjoyed at the close up they were getting.
So, I met the girl of my dreams. I am madly in love. I was about to start a volunteer job for her father, my (hope to be future) father-in-law. He said, "Nonsense!" and asked me what I wanted in return for my work. It was exactly the question I hoped for. I told him I wanted to marry his daughter.
Therefore, I suggested on my own that I work day and night, slaving over his sheep, for seven years, if he would then let me marry his daughter afterwards. He agreed, and those 2555 days went by like the blink of an eye; I was so in love and waiting to marry this girl.
In fact, after the first day and night of work, I said to myself, "24 hours down, only about 612,000 more! I'm gonna be married in no time!"
I don't understand Yaakov. Why suggest to marry Rochel only after working for 7 years? After he was fooled, and got Leah instead, he married Rochel right after Sheva Brachos, and the 7 years for her started after marrying her. He could have done this in the beginning, as well. Also, how could it be that because of his love for her, the seven years went by so quickly for him? I think it would more likely be the opposite.
An older woman met an ultra-religious Jewish young man at the corner.
"How despicable!" she told him, "Look at you Jews. You have no respect at all for modern society. You are stubborn and backwards and refuse to change your clothes or your styles. This isn't medievel Europe."
The young man looked at her curiously, and said, "Excuse, ma'am. I'm not Jewish. I'm Amish."
The woman blushed, and quickly said, "Oh, my, I'm so sorry! Of course you are. Well it is quite admirable that you don't let the change in culture sway you from your religious moors. I respect your defiance in the face of adversity..."
The joke as I heard it actually took place on a subway, but then you always have someone asking how an Amish person can ride a subway.
Anyway my friend told me that when these Amish (although they were probably Mennonite, what does COL know?) men were on Kingston, he heard a Chabadnick telling them this very joke, and everyone was laughing at the end!
I'm one of a kind! (Don't tell my twin brother.)
A lady working with Verizon Wireless's 611 customer service was shocked with what I told her. After discussing the reason for my call, she asked if there was anything else she could help me with. I said that I had had some problems with my old phone, and was sent a refurbished phone as a replacement. I told her that I was very pleased with Verizon, and that the new phone did not exhibit the problem my old one had given me, if she wanted to go ahead and jot that down in their file.
She said every single person she speaks to about his/her refurbished phone is unhappy with either the product, the service, etc. She said I was one of a kind!
Is it more than just a coincidence that the day after I post regarding my acceptance into the Teachers Training program, that I am offered an interview for a position at the Online School from the Shluchim Office?
The answer is no, not really. Mainly they are two unrelated events happening at the same time. Besides, of course, for the underlying Hashgacha Protis.
I was accepted into the prestigious and exclusive Teacher Training program, brought to us by them. This wonderful program started last year, and boasted much success. The general idea is that finally in Lubavitch yeshivos, there will be guys who know how to teach.
Wish me luck!
It is common to be heard among Lubavitchers that the annual Kinnus is the largest _______________ (fill in the blank). Usually it's something such as: full course dinner.
Discussing this among fellow bochurim, we decided that the Kinnus may not be the largest dinner in the country (Las Vegas, for example, may host larger conventions, as one bochur suggested), but perhaps it is the largest in the state.
This, too, was met with some doubts.
Finally, we decided that the Kinnus is, undoubtedly, the largest sit-down dinner for Orthodox Rabbis in the NYC metropolitan area.
That's right, it's the "S" word that is on the minds of bochurim my age. It used to be this one, about bochur shlichus. (That post was written about two and a half years ago.)
Now, let's look at the following image:
Pay attention to this guy's face. Does it look like he's interested in shidduchim? To me it looks like he'd rather be sitting and learning, than being chased like this.
Just an observation.
*A possible caption for this picture could be: "Shidduch Crisis".
Do you think it is depressing for leaves that the only time we write cutesy poems about them is when they are changing colors, dead and falling off the tree, and not when they are full of life and green?
We learn from Avraham Avinu that Hachnasas Orchim (receiving guests) is greater than Hakbalas Pnei HaShchinah (receiving Hashem), from the fact that he put the Aibershter on hold in order to be host to some Arabs walking nearby.
The Rebbe asks some really good questions:
1) We know this is the proper thing to do, since our precedent is Avraham. How did he know that this was the correct behavior!!???
2) These "Arabs" weren't real people; just angels. So he didn't really perform the mitzvah of Hachnasas Orchim, which is hosting people, not fake people who don't need to eat!! This means that it wasn't proper of him to push pause on his conversation with Hashem, since it wasn't for the real mitzvah of greeting guests!??!
Think you know the answers? They are worth a lot of YossiPoints. Feel free to email me your answer, and feel free to keep it to yourself and share it at your Shabbos table. Either one.
A friend of mine is, B'ezras Hashem, expecting to be a father this winter. I asked him if he was nervous about becoming a Tatty.
"No," he told me, "the only thing I'm worried about is choosing a name."
This was an unexpected answer. I was already planning a comforting line about how I know he'll make a great father... So instead I just said with a warm, supportive smile, "Don't worry. You'll come up with a great name!"
While we were bentching the month of Cheshvan, some days ago on Shabbos Beraishis, I remembered reviewing a farbrengen in which the Rebbe said something along the lines of: Chas V'Shalom that you should say that Mar Cheshvan is called that because 'Mar' means 'bitter', and there are no Yom Tovim. 'Mar' means ______.
I couldn't remember the rest, or where I had seen it.
The Chabad House in my town has a very small Chassidic library, and there were only two volumes of Hisvaadius on the shelf. To my luck, in a farbrengen in the year 1988, I found something similar to what I had remembered.
A small part of the sicha was discussing how 'Mar' means 'a drop', and that this is a time for drops of rain, bgashmius and bruchnius. The Rebbe quoted a posuk from Yeshaya (Isaiah 40:15) that reads: "The goyim are [like nothing] like a drop in the bucket", and in Hebrew: Hen goyim k'mar m'dli.
However, I looked up the posuk, and Rashi brings two reasons why "Kmar M'dli" means a drop from the bucket, and why it actually means the last drop of the bucket. Either because the last drop is bitter, because it physically has all the gross stuff at the bottom of the bucket, or as an expression, like one would say: the bitter end.
Which means that the only reason "mar" means "tipah", or "a drop" is because of its main translation of "bitter".
So I'm still on the lookout to see if the Rebbe brought a different type of pirush somewhere else, or if this is what I remembered, after all.
Regardless of what I find, this month should have nothing bitter in it, and only dripping with sweetness!
My taxi driver, Afzal, says he'll remember me forever. I guess that means I can get a free ride with him, if I manage to find his taxi again on the streets of NYC.
Afzal took me home to Crown Heights from the airport last week, and we made quite the connection. It started when he saved my life.
We were sitting at a light, and a scary man started crossing the lanes of traffic, with what looked like murder in his eyes, heading straight towards the backseat of our taxi. I was sitting in the backseat! I was a deer in the headlights, and could not move, as the man walked in a frightening way, towards us. At the last second, I hear all the locks click, and the man walked behind our car and continued on his way. Was he going to rip open the door and mug us? Possibly. I looked up into the rearview mirror, and locked eyes with my driver, giving him a teary eyed thank you look, one that gave him a glimpse into my soul.
Later, our conversation turned to religion. I told him I was an aspiring Rabbi, and he told me about his Muslim beliefs. We spoke about the hardships to the peace process in the Middle East. He asked me the Torah's opinion on Islam.
Then he asked me for a good word from the Torah, that he could have at the ready. He wanted something good, and he wanted me to write it down so he could memorize it. It also had to be something that would help him in life and business.
I was thinking of giving him the old "Shfoich chamascha" that some bochurim tend to tell goyim to say, when we meet an annoying one on mivtzoim who complains that he wants to do a prayer, also. I realized this wouldn't fly. If he found out that I gave him a verse asking the L-rd to pour out His wrath unto the gentiles, he wouldn't be too pleased with me, nor with my religion.
Instead, I wrote down the words: Uverachacha bchol maasei yadecha, and I translated for him: You should be blessed in all your work. I did not want to give him any of G-d's Holy Names.
Then he had me sign the paper with my name, and told me, "Yosef (although he probably would have spelled it Youssef), I'll always remember you! I'm going to keep this [paper] in my wallet, forever!!"
Then he asked me to pray for him, and that his name was Afzal.
The colder weather approaches, and with it a question of halacha. I was inspecting my snuggie and it has four corners. I am asking from my readers if any of you has already asked a rav about wearing your snuggie, and whether it needs to have Tzitzis. This would save me the time and embarrassment of going to a rav myself.
A young woman, originally modern orthodox but now estranged from her family, told me how she had visited Crown Heights lots of times. She started the whole "Chabad is never on time" thing, which you kind of have no way to dispute. Then she started speaking about 770, how she was there and of course, nobody started on time.
"Nooooo..." I said, along with the other bochurim at the table, in a quiet, drawn out way. "770 is always on time. Perfectly. You can choose any other place in Crown Heights to complain about, but not 770." She started arguing with us, declaring that she was in 770 and whatever it was that was supposed to start, had not done so in its proper time.
"Noooooo...." we told her again. "Maybe you thought it was supposed to start at a certain time... But we guarantee that whenever they started, that was the correct time. 770 is always punctual!"
She wouldn't give up her claim, and we couldn't persuade her that we knew what happened that day better than she did (even though we did know).
I went to a Chabad/JCC hosted Matisyahu Unplugged concert last night. It was in a small theater, seating 500.
(A friend asked me afterward how the pot was, but it wasn't that type of concert.)
I was going to demand a refund if One Day wasn't played, but thankfully no such actions were necessary.
It was just Matisyahu and a guitarist (who was also amazing), and a few times he stopped singing and took questions from the audience. It was a very heimish feel, but in a state of the art music theater.
He told us he wanted to sing a new song he had been working on, and we were the first audience to hear it. Matis kept warning us it might be a flop, and he stopped twice in the beginning because he forgot some lyrics. But he went right on to the main part of the song and it was incredible.
I heard that because of his contract, Matisyahu can only perform acoustic concerts like the one last night, on the side.
The first time I heard him, was about six years ago. I was in yeshiva in Pittsburgh, and Matis was just starting out. Barely anyone had even heard of him. He was staying at a family (Silverman), and doing a small gig in town. The Hanhala of our yeshiva agreed- and if they knew who he was and the music he played, I'm not sure if they would have agreed- to have him give us a private concert. So 40 bochurim crammed into the Silverman's dining room, and Matisyahu was there along with a guy Dugan (?) on bongo drums. He sang and beatboxed, and told us his whole life story. Later, he was selling signed CD's of Shake Off the Dust, standing in the kitchen. I bought one from him, because the music was ok, and I felt kind of sorry for him. It must be hard, needing to sell your CDs in someone's kitchen to some 15 year olds.
The title for my post is from something a lady in the audience said. Her question to Matisyahu was that she was doing a concert review for her college, and she wanted to know what genre of music he'd put himself into. He said it was a good question, and asked her what she thought. She said he's kind of a Reggae RockBoxer (a mix of reggae, rock and roll, and beatboxing).
I remember signs on the doors of the shul in Pittsburgh saying: If you come to shul to talk, where do you go to daven??
Last week when I was there, I noticed that now the signs said: No soccer or kickball indoors.
Hmmm. Yeridas HaDorois, it seems.
Now they don't mind if you talk, just whatever you do, don't start a soccer game when we're davening!!
I did Kapparos this afternoon. It's the closest I can get to Erev Yom Kippur. Oh well.
After my chicken and I bonded over me telling it how it would take my place and be ritually killed (don't worry, it's the most painless way it can die...), a pleasant, smiling woman asked if she could take my chicken to a sanctuary.
Um.... what type of synagogue would let this woman just bring chickens into their sanctuary?? That's where people pray!! You don't need feathers and droppings all over the place!!
I gave her my sweetest you-must-be-crazy-so-I'll-be-extra-nice-to-you smile, and said, "No thank you."
I was in Shpittsburgh for Rosh Hashana, home of Agent Emes and Itchakadoozie!
If my blog was fully anonymous, I would write a lot more about the people I met, and where I ate.
Alas, I never know who reads my blog, and whether they know who I am. Oh well.
Here's a line my friend's father told me: If you marry a girl from Pittsburgh, you'll for sure end up spending the rest of your life here.
Sound advice, just not sure if he meant I should or shouldn't.
Everyone should be written and sealed for a Shana Tova Umesuka!
Ksiva Vachasima Tova!
I've decided on what type of year I'll be davening for. I'm giving up on asking for a pony, and to win the lottery. I'm sticking with a basic game-plan. All I'm requesting from the Al-mighty this year is that no more of my friends should die, and that girls and guys who have waited much too long to get married should finally be able to do so, and enjoy a normal life.
I'm not asking for anything spectacular. All Hashem needs to do is let us live normal, uninterrupted, simple lives. I don't need to be drafted onto the Yankees, or save a plane from being hijacked.
Got that, G-d?
No dead friends, and only satisfied Kollel Yuhngerlite and their Kallahs.
You do Your part, and I'll stick to the davening, learning, and doing mitzvos.
The other day I was doing laundry when a guy came in, and asked me, in Hebrew, what the difference is between the regular cycle on the washing machine which costs $1.25, and the Super Cycle option which one can purchase for an additional 25 cents.
I myself was not very confident in my knowledge of the answer. Nowhere on the machine did it say what the Super Cycle did, and what makes it so Super.
I started to suggest different possibilities, using my Hebrew lexicon. Perhaps it was a faster spin, or an additional rinse, for example. He cut me off soon after, gave me a look, and said (still in Hebrew), "So basically, you don't know how to tell me in Hebrew..."
"Exactly!" I told him, and he walked away.
Today for lunch, 1414 served..... nothing. There was just no food. None. When all the Israeli guests come in, sometimes in the past 1414 has served lunch in Getzel's shul. But nothing was there, either.
So there was just no lunch today.
At least we had dinner.
Care to guess what was served as the main course?
Sliced bread. The rest of dinner consisted of rice and/or variations thereof, like farfel.
So you can bet that Reason # 2 to get married is 1414.
There's a great sicha in chelek Chof Tes about the connection between the two parshas of Netzavim and Vayelech (they're really one parsha! Not two that are combined! Even when they are read apart! I know!), and their connection to Shabbos Mevarchim Tishrei.
This Shabbos, we do not bentch the coming month. Don't feel bad. Hashem is bentching it! And as the Ba'al Shem Tov explains, this gives us the Koach to bentch the other 11 months of the year (this year 12, since it's a leap year).
I think everyone should learn the sicha. The Rebbe explains how Netzavim and Vayelech represent the general ideas of our Avodah, and of Hashem's Kingship, and hence the connection to Rosh Hashana and our Avoda on that day... Big big stuff.
I"ll make this quick.
I was in Target, trying to buy shampoo (and minding my own business, of course), when I came to a big obstacle. Normally I had been buying the Pantene ProV brand, and I would make sure to get the one that has shampoo and conditioner, 2 in 1. On this shopping day, I could find no 2 in 1's that fit my hair description. The only one available for purchase was for Frizzy to Smooth hair. And I don't have frizzy hair!
So here was my dilemma: Is it better to get a nice smelling other shampoo, that's only a shampoo, and no conditioner, or go with the 2 in 1, that has a conditioner, but it's not for my hair!? If my hair is already smooth, will it damage it to use shampoo meant for frizzy hair? And what does a conditioner even do? Do men need conditioner? Why had I been using shampoo and conditioner up until this point?
I didn't know, and my mother wasn't answering her phone! The next best thing was to ask the woman standing next to me in the aisle, but she wasn't too helpful.
This leads me to the inauguration of a new part of my blog.
This is Reason # 1 to get married- for my haircare necessities.
I had the pleasure to daven today in 770 next to a Bar Mitzvah Bochur. I strongly suggest to my readers to try and find one to daven next to, as well.
Over nine years have passed since my Bar Mitzvah, and it's quite refreshing (especially during these Elul days) to see the verve and passion of a young 13 year old kid, davening with a minyan.
Do you remember when you were so excited just to start putting on tefillin? To be counted with a minyan?
Where and when did we lose it? After how many years has it changed from something cherished to a chore?
One of the things that I plan to pay more attention to in Tof Shin Ayin Aleph is my Avodas HaTefillah.
Elul of course hits us hard from all sides, and for each part of our Avodah. The different psukim which give us the acronym for Elul hint to each part of the Avodah:
"Ani ledodi vdodi li" is about our connection to our Beloved: Hashem. This represents our Tefillah.
"Inah Lyado Vsamti Lach" is about the cities of refuge. Elsewhere it says that the words of Torah are our refuge.
"[Umal] Es Levavcha ves Levav" is about us doing Tshuva.
"Ish Lrayahu Umatanos Levyoinim" is of course about giving gifts of food to our friends, and money to the poor, which represents Gimilus Chassadim.
From Chai Elul we get Chayus for the whole chodesh, and from now until Rosh Hashana is the heavy stuff. Give it all you got, and make sure you are with all the King's men when He returns to the palace!
Oh yeah! Which one of the guys in this picture thought I wouldn't be posting it?
Everyone in the photo is attempting to perform 'The Face'. I was the unwitting originator of the face. I happened to be under hypnosis, in fact. If you were in camp, you'd understand. And yes, the hands are an essential part to 'The Face'.
If I were the browsing public, I'd get a good look, because at least one of these 13 will most undoubtedly be objecting to its publication.
I've moved into 1414.
It's not that bad. It's not that good, either, but you've got to look on the bright side.
Speaking of the bright side, I'll be having an Israeli Bochur move in with a mattress, in the middle of the room, beginning soon until after Tishrei. [Last year's kvutza leaves in Cheshvan, and the new kvutza comes now.]
So you can be sure I'll be posting pictures of my Israeli Bochur, and you can watch him grow! I'm pretty sure I can water him, and he'll grow, similar to a Chia Pet. I haven't picked a name for him yet, 'cause golly, I haven't even seen him! What if I choose Latoya, and then I see him, and he's for sure a Dave??
One of my first teachers told me about the days when you'd have to watch where you step in 1414, lest you fall through a hole in the floor, and land on the story beneath. I was also told he would bring his own toilet seat, whenever heading to the bathroom.
Last night, the staff of CGI Manalapan decided we needed to get together for a reunion, while most of us were still in Crown Heights. None of us had been to Basil, so that was the planned destination.
Three of us went ahead and walked in, thinking to save seats for the other four or five that would be joining us.
I walked in, and immediately felt out of place with my hat and jacket.
I tapped a worker on the shoulder, and asked him if there was space for six or seven of us, since it looked quite packed. He spoke to his manager, and the answer we got was, "Maybe in a while, there will be space."
While we were contemplating our next move, a woman came in from outside. It's hard to describe for you how I knew it, but for some reason I just got the vibe that this woman was crazy. You know, like how every restaurant has their crazy.
She asked us how many people we had, and we told her seven. "Did you make a reservation?" she asked. We told her we didn't, and how regretful we were about our terrible error. She told us she had a reservation for seven people. That meant we had a big line in front of us. "Where are your seven?" she asked us, seeing there were only three of us.
"They're coming," we told her. I then switched roles with her, and went on the offensive: "Where are your seven??!!" I boldly shot back.
"They're coming," she answered. My friend suggested that maybe we'll all get a table together, until the rest of our parties arrive.
Anyway, so we left the restaurant, and headed back towards Bank of America, thinking of a different dinner destination (alliteration, don'tchya know?).
"Come back!" we hear from behind us. Lo and behold, it was our crazy lady, waving to us. "Are you really leaving?"
"Yeah, there wasn't space," we answered.
"You're leaving just because there's no space?"
"Um... yes. And besides, I'd rather come when we have a reservation," I told her.
"No, no! I have space for you! Follow me," she said, and started walking towards Lincoln. She turned back to see that none of us had moved. "What? Don't you trust me?" She had started to turn the corner, and was appalled we weren't happily trotting behind her.
"No, we don't. I think you're going to take us into an alley and shoot us," I explained. She just laughed.
We slowly dragged our feet, playing an interesting game of trying not to be in front and closest to her, as we followed around the corner.
Hey! It was another restaurant! We were surprised as we looked around at this huge, empty restaurant, wondering if this was some treif place, or really part of Basil. She assured us it was the latter. It turns out she's part owner. Her part is about 1/60th, but she still has a part. And she hooked us up with their party room.
We had the place to ourselves, until a party of five showed up later.
We quickly ordered the Basil Fries, having heard so much about them. We were not disappointed. They were excellent!
I had heard so much about bad service, and lengthy waits for food, but we had a great dinner! The food was delicious, and came after a minimal wait. We had a great reunion, three days after camp ended, and we all made a new friend: Clara, the ([not so] crazy) lady who works there.
I'm back in the shchunah. Gotta run, though, because Psachim doesn't way for nobody.
When I have time later, I'll regale you with my tale about dinner in Basil last night, and about the last days of camp.
I'm currently in Lancaster, PA.
Tomorrow my bunk is going to Herhsey Park, and Tuesday after hangin' with the Amish, we'll IY"H make our way back to New Jersey. Today we visited the Indian Echo Caverns. I didn't get to go on the tour, because one of the campers had a meltdown. He was upset we took away his phone. Trust me when I say this, we had good reason to.
I'm really looking forward to the open bar at Shmuley Volovik's wedding Tuesday night.
Many of my campers think I'm a loser. Not because they know me personally. Just simply because I'm a counselor.
I was at one kid's house, and we were playing video games. I even told him I used to play Super Smash Brothers on my old N-64, yet he was totally surprised I could hold my own on his Game Cube version.
Next came Ping Pong. He was teaching me how to play as if I was seven years old. I'm twelve years older than him, but he was genuinely surprised that I could play ping pong.
Why do these kids assume because we are frum, that we cannot do anything?
Just today, we had an awesome time at laser tag. As we were setting up the teams, there were some very big guys playing with us. One camper decided we should split ourselves among the other guys, to make the teams fair. "Because we're just four kids, and only one counselor. And he's Jewish." As in, he couldn't possibly be good at laser tag. [And guess who led the Red team to victory with the most points of either team? Good ol' Bochur in Lubavitch, that's who.]
I'm currently in Lake George, New York. Tomorrow we take our kids to Lake Placid, site of a Winter Olympics, I don't know which year. Either way, should be fun.
Last week in camp, we had an overnight, on which I slept with the kids on a hard wooden floor. They had sleeping bags; I had a sheet. Shabbos was the Shabbaton. All the staff got beds or mattresses. One of us needed to sleep with the kids. They had sleeping bags on the cold stone floor. I had a blanket, this time. Still, two nights of killing my back. This soft, plush double bed with seven pillows is definitely calling my name.
Since I have millions of readers, I want to take this opportunity to encourage everyone to vote for the following schools on the Kohls Cares thingee for facebook:
Hebrew Academy community school in margate, florida
Beis Chaya Mushka school for girls in Los Angeles,
and Cheder Chabad of Monsey.
*** Make sure to visit VoteBCM.com to find out more info for Beis Chaya Mushka***
Tomorrow, my bunk will IYH be going to Ocean City, MD.
If you are interested, I have much to say about camp and vechulu, but I have to run and drive back to daven mincha. Some quick news: I was the winning general in Color War! That's right. The blue team always wins! The red team used the gap theme as some of their signs. They wrote: Inspi(red). So our team put up signs saying Inspi(blue)d, and Expi(red).
Shabbos we were in Monsey, and Sunday I was in the Shchuna for a little bit.
Take care, and have an easy rest of your fast.
Today I was about to die from the heat. We were in Six Flags, and the sweltering temperature passed 104 degrees. For those not in the know, my foot has been sore for some time, so I was limping around from ride to ride, dizzy from the turns and drops, and exhausted from the heat...
We kept getting as much water as we could.
Part of this Six Flags is a water park, that in some other parks is a separate cost and ticket. Our kids wanted to go, of course, but we gave them a strict message on Tznius (we're like that- very chassidish. We also made them daven Mincha! Not only that, but we didn't even let them watch South Park!). One camper exclaimed, "I'm not going to look at girls in their bathing suits- I'm only 10!!"
After lunch, and after the sun was high in the sky, we of course had to eat our words, and let them go into the whirlpool.
The way we split up the bunk, I took the kids who wanted to go on the scary rides. Scary for them still means roller coaster, and that's it. Anything that even thinks about turning upside down isn't even in their definition of scary. There's no word yet for it.
But for one boy, I did change his life. I convinced him to go on an upside down roller coaster, and what do you know? He loved it, and went on every other coaster in the park, including the one that you ride lying on your back, and twisting you around. I didn't get to ride much, since I had to wait with the kids who didn't want to go on the cool roller coasters, but I was ok with that. By the end of the day, as I stated in the beginning of my post, I was worried I would die.
We made the schedule, so if we wanted, the boys could have stayed in the park for longer, but as I stated in the title of this post, it was inconceivably hot out, and I was ready for a shower and a bed.
Right now we're in Baltimore, MD.
My bunk is seven kids, plus our driver (Yos, his wife, and the bunk baby (and mascot) RL), plus my co. and me equals the CGI Travel Camp. Normally there are closer to twenty kids. It's hard enough getting everyone quiet and sleeping with just a few rooms, so I'm not complaining on that end.
You'd think with such small numbers, we wouldn't be losing any kids... but baruch Hashem, we're all tucked in and accounted for!
Hope everyone's summer is going swell. Tomorrow we have Six Flags, and then Thursday we make our move and takeover on the nation's capital!
I'm soon heading off to camp, in Manalapan, New Jersey. If you've been following my blog for any length of time, you'll realize that this is my third summer there.
Last year, I was very excited to go back. The day I stepped back onto the camp grounds, though, I suddenly lost all enthusiasm. I turned to a friend and said, "I can't believe I'm here again." I forged forward, though, and had a great summer.
This year I'm getting that feeling again, even before setting foot at camp. I hope the feeling passes, as it did before. Although we have a good time, it's also a ton of work. We wake up at six in the morning (did you know that the world still exists before 8 in the summer months?), and after a long day in the sun, we go to visit the kids at their houses. Normally we have to stop on the side of the road to daven mincha, because we don't get back to our house before 8 PM.
Last year we had a car called 'The Boat' that didn't have air conditioning. I would practically pass out in the ride back.
But there is satisfaction in the hard shlichus of camp. And the kids really do love us, and I've fallen in love with them; that is why I'm going back.
I wish everyone to have a healthy and fun summer. Have an easy fast this Tuesday. Don't expect any frequent posts from me, so you can use this time to read (or reread) any of my old posts.
I had the complete pleasure of being hosted by the the great Mordechai and his wonderful wife, Mrs. Letters of Thought, today for a Shabbos Seudah.
Letters of thought were indeed flying all about. I think one even fell into my cholent.
Anyway, just thought I'd share my tale with you.
I was thinking that I should do something really big for my 600. Perhaps you were, too.
Guess this is anticlimactic.
To put things in perspective, I reached my 300th, 400th, and 500th post all since this time in June, last year. That's a lot of blogging. So... 300 posts in a year- not too shabby.
I was looking back at some things I wrote a year ago (pre-300 posts), and I saw this post. It looks cute, but I cannot remember who this guy was from L.A. that I was supposed to watch over. Oh well. I hope I did. This one was also something I wrote a year ago. This one, too, about being busted. And this one about swine flu taking over.
Also, take a ride over to Chabad.org to read the Freidiker Rebbe's diary, translated into English, about his account of the arrest and eventual liberation on the 12th and 13th of Tammuz.
So why is a whole Parsha named after him? Doesn't the gemara tell us not to name our sons after Rashaim? Isn't there a source from the Torah that we should not mention the names of Rashaim or Avoda Zara?? And he gets a whole parsha??!!
The gemara says that if the name of Avoda Zara is mentioned in the Torah, than it is allowed for us to call it by its name.
Okay, so it is not technically forbidden to recite the name of Avoda Zara, or a Rasha, if it was stated in the Torah. But that doesn't mean we should go ahead and name a whole Parsha after him!
The Rebbe explains that the reason one is allowed to say the name of an Avoda Zara if it has appeared in the Torah is because you are bringing out how False it is. Torah is Emes= Truth. By declaring it with the way the Torah sees it, we are showing how one who practices it is punished, and how it is totally Nisbatel (nullified). In a way, the Rebbe says, we are mocking the Avoda Zara.
So, too, with Balak. The most complete way a Rasha is taken care of is that not only does he not hold any importance, but he actually helps the Jewish people. This is how all the nations of the world will treat the Yidden when Moshiach comes. Who better than to exhibit this idea than Balak!?
Balak hired Bilaam to curse the Yidden. Not only were they not cursed, but they received some of the best and most hopeful brachos they have ever received. Bilaam even made a prophesy about Moshiach- one of the only places in the Five Books of the Torah.
So Balak brings out this point that Rashaim won't be disbanded or obliterated (although that's a big plus); they will be there to help and do all they can to ensure the continuance of Judaism and of the Jewish people.
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If you are a frum bochur who is eligible for Birthright,
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And for the 100% Discount code, put in "Yossi" in the comments, so they put you in my discount group and they know to not charge you for the trip, and so all your food is strictly Kosher, and so you can have the chance to spend 10 (or more if you push off your ticket) awesome days in Israel with A Bochur In Lubavitch and with other frum bochurim (but are less important since they don't have blogs)!
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*I'm serious about everything besides for the camel. You do have to mention me in the comments to be put in my Lubavitch guys group. Oh, and also it's free no matter which program you go through.
For this summer's 'end of day/on trip/at home learning classes', I created a weekly booklet exhibiting some of our finest Jewish heroes and characters.
The first week deals with Avraham through Yosef, in the years 1948-2238 from creation.
The second week showcases the great Yocheved, Moshe, Aaron, Miriam, Yehoshua and Devorah; covering the years 2238-2700!
The third week is when campers will meet Rus, Eli the Kohen Gadol, Shmuel the Prophet and finally King David, just in the next 200 years until 2923. (Shimshon will be covered separately.)
The fourth week is Shlomo HaMelech, plus a whole bunch of the great Nevi'im, like Eliyahu, Elisha, Yirmiah, Yechezkel, ending with Ezra HaSofer. This will cover the years 2900-3413.
The fifth week is devoted to the great Tannaim of the Mishna- 3488-3950 from creation.
The sixth week they learn about the Amoraim of the Gemara, plus some Gaonim (in between are the Savoraim, but I don't have room to include any without excluding some great Amoraim), who lived between 3859-4800! (This is 99-1040 CE)
The seventh week is when we finally get to the Rishonim, like Rashi and the Rambam. 4800-5160, or 1000-1400 CE.
I would have them learn about some of the early achronim, and hope to reach the later achronim like the Baal Shem Tov for the eighth week, but from past experience I know that not much can be covered the last week of camp.
We first wanted to call it Jilp!, and only after did we put words to the acronym. It now stands for the: Jewish Identity Learning Program.
Our goal is to get kids to realize we have an awesome heritage full of heroes and larger than life supermen and women who sometimes even gave their lives to Hashem and for Judaism. In the booklets are little biographies and stories of our ancestors, and even the orthodox frum kids in camp will be able to learn new things, all about the great Jewish people.
A friend of mine finished his year of shlichus and told me his plans to learn smicha in Melbourne.
"So I won't see you for 15 months," he told me, "Try not to do anything that I would miss, until I come back..."
The wife where I ate my Shabbos day meal asked me why I'm going to a day camp this summer.
"Is it for the money, or for your resume?" she asked me.
Left with just those choices, I still had to answer that it was for neither.
I still have not worn my Snuggie.
I did well on my Taruvois test Thursday, bh.
In a few posts, I'll have reached 600. I still have not decided how I will celebrate.
Last night there was a barbecue dinner as an appreciation to the Friendship Circle guy volunteers. I say 'guy', but I was one of the oldest. Most of them were still in yeshiva. At the end of the evening, they handed out some sweaters (which is good, because based on FC's website, I would have had to wait three more years in order to accumulate enough points to get a sweater) and those car magnets.
One of the older guys took his magnet, looked at it despondently, and said, "I don't have a car." After more thought, he said, "Or even a refrigerator!"
I wasn't at the Rosh's farbrengen last night, although he was.
A friend of mine was also there, and he told me the following:
A certain shliach in New Jersey (I won't say his name) was at the farbrengen, and started saying how he went to a Chabad Yeshiva once to daven, and it was very shvach, and it made him depressed. Sometime later, a large group of counselors came to him for Shabbos, and they were good, normal, chassidishe bochurim, and they uplifted him...
Later that night, after the farbrengen, this shliach saw my friend outside, and asked, "Weren't you one of those counselors that came for Shabbos?!!" He went on to say that even now, whenever his young son wants to describe how great a Shabbos is, he'll say, "This was like the Shabbos when the bochurim were here!!"
It just goes to show, my friend told me, that you never know the extent of the impact that you can have on someone.
What makes this story more amazing is that we didn't feel we had such a good time, or that we did much there...
Rabbi Paltiel farbrenged last night at his house.
"Gimmel Tammuz must not go by without us being inspired!" he declared, challenging us to make the most out of the day, and to try to internalize the messages and meanings.
One thing he said was that the most important part of the Pan is the second line, where you write your name, and your mother's. The difference between a Pan and a letter, is that when you write a letter to the Rebbe, you are writing with your Nara"n, and expect to be answered from the Rebbe's Nara"n. A Pan, though, connects your Yichada (the highest part of your soul) with the Rebbe's. By writing your name and your mother's name, you are connecting your Yichada, and giving yourself to the Rebbe. The rest of the Pan is just 'dressing'.
Rabbi Paltiel told us a story about a shliach a long time ago who didn't have any success communicating with a certain house on a campus. Everyone was Jewish, but they wouldn't let him make Shabbos services, or even host a meal. The one thing they allowed was for him to collect everyone's name and mother's name, and they saw him to the door, hoping never to hear from him again.
Many years later, a woman who had been in that group, had become frum. When she sat down and thought about it, she realized that not only was she frum, but every single member of that house way back in college had also become frum!! She searched for the shliach that had visited that one time, and asked him what he did. He told her he made sure to send every name in to the Rebbe! He does that with new person he meets.
Whether they knew it (and liked it) or not, he was bringing these people to the Rebbe, and creating a connection and pull which eventually led them all to become frum!
Yeah, so my sister is the man. We changed the word 'slurpee' to 'ganizzee', and really, we're not sure why everyone has been spelling it with a 'y'. Of course, this could all be yours for your camp. Don't let this opportunity pass you by. Who knows if the 7-11 franchise will still be around by the year 6770!
And the first main logo obviously is a better image than what I posted.
Really cool idea, huh? You can thank A Bochur In Lubavitch for the idea, and A Sister in Lubavitch for following through with the design. We're using 7-11 as the theme this summer in camp, but of course changing it to 7-70 for 5770. Anyone who wants to use this also for their camp, send me an email, I'll give you an incredibly cheap price (I have to charge something, and proceeds go to camp) for this cup*, and the 7-70 logo by itself, in color also.
abochurinlubavitch at gmail dot com
We're using this as the cover to our weekly journal, and we're calling it the CGI Gulp, obviously.
I've been busy as of late with studying for my smicha tests (one Sunday, another one Wednesday, both on Ta'aruvois), and with preparing all the learning material we will be having our children learn throughout the summer in camp. Maybe more about that later. For now, to keep you interested, I've copied a few emails that I exchanged a while back with an older man I used to visit on mivtzoim last year. He is a lawyer, and has an office in North Hollywood. I could easily spend hours speaking to him every week. He liked printing out a few articles from the week that he had read online, and we would discuss them. Normally he would be angered by something some charedi somewhere said or did, and we would discuss Chabad's views, and my own personal ones.
Anyway, that was a long introduction, you can just read parts of our conversation:
(From him, to me)
If you don't pursue it, all the best girls will go somewhere else. Its funny you should ask what is bothering me. A lot. Israel now has at least two categories of Jews, first class and second class. There may be a third class, those who claim they are Jewish but have no DNA ties to a Jewish parent, etc. According to what I have read, the Chabad leadership in Israel has joined with the other orthodox elements in pushing to amend the Law of Return to make it comply with halachic law. If that was how the Law of Return read in 1948, many holocaust survivors would have been denied entry into Israel. This and the conversion battles that are going on there remind me a little of apartheid in South Africa. For years the UN said Israel was a racist state but everyone knew that was baloney just to support the Arabs. The problem now is that Israel seems to becoming a state where personal rights are directly proportional to one's purity of blood and degree of observance, the first cousins of de jure racism. I worry that most American Jews who are not orthodox (90%) will not long support such a development unless they close their eyes and repeat to themselves "right or wrong" its our Israel. Many are already doing this.
But all this is too serious. Regards,
You wrote: "If that was how the Law of Return read in 1948, many holocaust survivors would have been denied entry into Israel"
Denied entry, or not have gained citizenship so soon?
This is a valid point you bring up. But it still creates at least two classifications of Jews, instant and delayed with all the negative ramifications that go into being in the latter group and even after waiting a number of years and finally becoming a citizen, the Ministry of Interior will still not classify these people as Jews. This opens a whole new issue with me--the abhorrent practice of tying citizenship to religion/culture/ancestry or in Israel's case to maternal Jewish ancestry whether the applicant is observant or not. This smells theocratic and might have worked in the very distant past but not now after two thousand years of Diaspora. Show me in their writings, letters, commentaries, etc., where in the Hertzl and his contemporaries conceived of Israel as being an orthodox Jewish country open only to those Jews who fit the Halachic definition. There isn't any and, if the Holocaust taught us anything, there shouldn't be any. It is all being made up as Israel goes along by a small group of Haredim given powers far beyond their dreams (by a crazy political system) who can't even agree amongst themselves what a proper conversion/Jew is. Their nonsense is affecting the attitudes of Jews in other countries, especially the USA in a very negative manner. If they keep it up their support from the Diaspora will become ambivalent and maybe even antagonistic and the Arabs will have won. The Israeli government knows this is happening too because they send people here who try to explain what is rationally inexplicable to non orthodox Jews. What is the answer?
I then proceeded to ask about the exact power and makeup the Charedim have in the Israeli parliament....
This is a topic rich in controversy and conversation. It's good I don't have comments enabled, huh?
Recently I was contemplating becoming a Mohel, a Ritual Circumciser. If I wanted to learn this next year, I wanted to make sure I would be able to apply my new skills.
What do you think my family and closest friends answered me, when I asked if they would allow me to be their baby's Mohel?
Apparently, only a Mohel with lots of experience will be bringing my future nephews (IY"H) into the Tribe, not a fresh-faced bochur with a Smicha Teuda still smelling of laser ink.
(And I do not have my smicha yet. It was a given that by the time I'll be circumcising, I will have passed all my required tests.)
Here's a quick lesson we can all learn from the story of the spies, as the Rebbe explains in chelek yud gimmel of Lekkutei Sichos:
Just like Moshe sent men to spy out the land before entering, so, too, must we all take time to think about the great effects and purposes that our Mitzvos and Torah have, before we go about doing them. If only we realize how we are connecting ourselves to Hashem by fulfilling His commandments and by learning His wisdom, our actions will have much greater effect.
Doing mitzvos is compared to entering Israel. Israel has a higher state of G-dly revelation than any other country. When we do a mitzvah, we draw down G-dliness into the mundane world, also to a higher degree of revelation than before.
As one song puts it: "I'm heading down south to the land of the pines/ and I'm thumbing my way into North Caroline."
I won't be thumbing any banjos as I make my way back into Dixie, but this Thursday I will be heading south for Shabbos, IY"H. I haven't been back to the Tar Heel State for two years. Did you know that N.C. is the tenth most populous state?
Anyhoo, what's a good trip down the Eastern Seaboard into the Bible Belt if you don't stop in the nation's capital? I'll be stopping in D.C. for a bit to visit for a special birthday.
What will I be doing on the Megabus, you ask me? Will I be utilizing the free Wifi, you ask?
No, probably not. I've got two smicha tests, one next week, and one the week after.
"Look away! Look away! Look away, Dixie Land!" (That's from a famous song called 'Dixie'. Or called, 'I wish I was in Dixie'.)
The biggest role World History has played in my life these past few moments is by weighing down the back tank of the toilet in the bathroom. If not for its strategic placement on the right side, the whole tank would lean towards the left (and who wants a liberal toilet that leans to the left?) and spit out water whenever flushed, leaving the floor wet. Now one can flush without jumping up onto the side of the bathtub to save one's shoes from contamination.
That's why World History is so important.
This morning I noticed right after I left the house that I was wearing two different shoes. They were both without laces, so I slipped my feet unknowingly into different pairs.
Why am I telling you this?
I'm worried about what this could mean for me, from a psychoanalytical standpoint. This incident could be symbolizing a deep seeded resentment to authority, and also my fear of commitment. It may show my deficiency as a caregiver, and reveal my anxiety of continued failure. What if it indicates my lack of trustworthiness?
Or it could just be because I was tired.
I found this profound sentiment in my phone today. I can barely remember typing it in and saving it, but I have no clue as to what prompted me to write it. I must have heard someone say it.
If anyone can figure out what it is supposed to mean, be my guest.
This Monday marks the Shloshim for Nosson Deitsch, A"H, a friend of mine, and a friend to hundreds.
Gatherings are being held in lots of places, including Miami (where he was Mashgiach and learned this year), Tampa (where he spent his final Shabbos in this world), and Los Angeles (where he was a Shliach of the Rebbe in the Beis Medrash last year). I'm confident there will be something here in Crown Heights, as well.
I strongly encourage everyone to visit www.Tanya4Nosson.com, where you can learn about the incredible Tanya Mivtza Campaign for all yeshivos, in his merit. Many bochurim have started learning Tanya Ba'al Peh in Nosson's zchus.
The campaign has a large budget, and could use all of your help financially. Tax receipts are available for the U.S. and Canada. You can email them at email@example.com.
In honor of Nosson's Shloshim, please take a moment to make a pledge financially to reward the many yeshiva students who have started memorizing Tanya.
I also encourage anyone who has not yet decided on a Hachlata, to take one in Nosson's zchus.
We should have only good reasons for posts!
We shouldn't have to commemorate a life, but celebrate life!
This is some of the chicken I made last night. My friend and I spent two hours. The basic recipe: first you dip the chicken into a flour/paprika/garlic powder/salt mixture, then fry that in oil, then cook it in a frying pan in a sauce made of chicken broth, Chablis wine, parsley flakes, garlic powder, and cornstarch.
It smells and looks great, I just hope it tastes good.
You serve it on egg noodles.
I just got back from a very nice chasuna of between fellow bloggers, mazal tov mazal tov.
(A bochur in Lubavitch even was honored with one of the sheva brachos during bentching. psssshhhh.)
There were so many internet celebrities present, in fact! I met Big N8, and Rabbi Cowboy, and TRS was there, plus E, and Nemo, and Feivel, and of course Sebastion, and Cheerio, and I saw Fakewood and LazyBoy...
With so many bloggers under one roof, I was worried the Va'ad Shmiras Hadas.... would find us.
Now I've got to...gulp....cook.
I'm hosting a Birthright sponsored Shabbos meal for a bunch of guys, and I've decided to tackle Chicken Chablis for the main course. I don't think it will go down without a fight, so I need all my wits about me.
Ta-ta for now. Merry Shabbos.
Today in 770, upstairs in the zal, we had a small change in the daily grind of learning.
I watched as an Israeli bochur (his shirt was untucked, and he had a big Yechi yarmulka) walked in, and in his hands was a small, white box.
I pointed this out to my chavrusa, and joked that it was a ring.
We both watched as he opened up this box, to reveal another box. This box was brown, and did look like a jewelry box.
"Uh, maybe it is a ring?"
At this point I had gotten the attention of the chavrusa next to us, and all four of us watched as this bochur opened the second box to take out.... a gold ring! He brought it to Rabbi Osdoba, who sits upstairs in our zal.
And then, the bochur got down on his knee!!!
"He's proposing!" I gasped, and with this remark, I gained the attention of four more bochurim, sitting at the table next to us. One of them tried getting a picture on his phone, but we were all blocked by the shtender that Rabbi Osdoba sits behind.
We figured if it wasn't a proposal, although it sure looked like one, the only halachic question he might be asking was about letters engraved on the inside of the ring. Chabad custom is to have a plain and pure gold ring. With this bochur, it looked like he had had Yechi engraved on the inside of the ring, although we couldn't see from our vantage point. (And of course, the first thing we would do if we could see the ring, was to snap a picture.)
If we could have gotten a picture of him kneeling, showing Rabbi Osdoba the ring, that would have been priceless. Oh well.
And whatever it was that this bochur was asking, the only answer befitting such a kneeling position with a ring held up is: "Yes! Oh, yes!"
Binyan Adei Ad!
Thank you to everyone for your patience. Here are the answers to these questions.
1. Basically, we count our 49 days, and reach the highest level we can, as humans. Then Hashem grants us a monumental gift that is disproportionate to anything we could ever achieve. This is the 50th level.
2. The Rebbe Rashab brings an answer that is a play on words. Instead of saying "Ein Melech B'lo Am" which means "There is no king without a nation", you could substitute the Aramaic word for "Ein", which in the gemara actually means "Yes", and is pronounced more like "In", but spelled the same. In this light, the sages are really saying: "Yes. There is a king without a nation." This refers to a much higher level of Kingship, or Malchus, that Hashem has even before Adam HaRishon named Him King.
The elections for Va'ad Hakahol and Gabbaim of 770 are coming up. I don't think I'm eligible to vote, and it's a shame I wasn't eligible to run.
I don't know who the candidates are, but I urge my readers to follow this advice while voting:
Choose whichever candidate says he'll stop the sermons in 770 on Shabbos.
Seriously, I sit three rows behind the bima and I can never hear a word. It's a waste of 15 minutes. The only times I've heard the speaker were when it was Yossi Jacobson, or R' Shalom Mordechai Rubashkin's son a few weeks back, begging the Crown Heights community to continue supporting his father b'gashmius u'bruchnius.
Anyone else who speaks does so to .01% of the parishioners.
Erev Shavuous I went on mivtzoim, delivering cheesecakes and holiday cheer. I was speaking to a woman who remarked about this being the last holiday for a while.
"Yes," I told her, "the next one isn't for a while, it's Rosh Hashana."
"Oh, that is a break, from this holiday to the next," she replied.
"Well, we do have two days in the middle when we fast and mourn the destruction of the holy temples..."
"Well, isn't that nice, then?"
Errrrr. Not really.
I remember watching a clip of Matisyahu in his early days. I don't know what he does these days at concerts, but apparently he used to farbreng with his audience, and speak in between songs. In the video, he was at a bar or another similar rowdy venue, and the crowd was going wild for him. He spoke about the message of a song he had just sung, and said,"....and for the destruction of our temple in Jerusalem", and everyone started cheering. As in, "Wooooaaah! Destruction of the temple!!"
They weren't listening either to the content of what he was saying.
If half truths are whole lies, does that make half lies into whole truths?
I'm ashamed to say that my last post was only a half-truth. It was true that I never lost a Bananagrams game over Shavuous. What I somehow failed to inform you was that my most worthy adversary was a nine year old girl. In my defense, she is very precocious, a skilled player, and practically ten (her birthday is next week).
Update: I just played a game online versus three strangers, and won. Ha!
I was in Worcester ("Wooster"), MA for Shavuous. I had a very nice yom tov, spoke on tahalucha, vechulu.
I need to thank the entire state of Massachusetts, for it was within your borders that I learned how to play Bananagrams. I believe I may just be the best Bananagrammer ever. I still do not know what the sour taste of losing feels like on my delicate winningful palate.
Activity Name: COL Live! Number of players: At least two. Object: To react to a statement or story, through speech, as if you are comments from COL. Example:Last night R' Manis gave a speech to bochurim. He mentioned something about a son developing to be like his father. A bochur asked if this is true for girls, as well. R' Freidman was amused and said that a few nights before, when he was speaking to girls and told them about daughters/mothers, one girl asked if it was the same for boys. Another bochur called out, "We should make a shidduch!"
Really, the Col Live! activity has already started, with this bochur's outburst. Players hearing this story could continue by saying something like, "No, way! She asked about boys, he asked about girls! That's opposite! Why would they be a good shidduch??" The next player might respond, "You're wrong. And why does everyone love Manis Friedman? 8th day isn't chassidish at all! I can't believe the Rabbanim haven't put a stop to it yet!" Another player might continue with, "Where's the achdus?? It's because of the fight at Lag B'omer that people cannot even get along on a website!!" And so on. Note to teacher: Try to have the players be creative with their responses. To spice the conversation up, it's always good to throw in a random, "Woooooaaah! Mushky we love u! Great job!"
This really is fun, I suggest you try it. It's simple to learn. A lifetime to get tired of it.
Here's the first question, and it's about Shavuous:
The Torah says, "Tispiru chamishim yom," which means we are commanded to count 50 days, from the time the Omer was brought until Shavuous, in which we celebrate the Bikkurim and the grain harvest. We also commemorate the giving of the Torah which occurred on the sixth day of Sivan.
So if we are supposed to count 50 days, why don't we? Tonight is the last night of the omer that we count. We never make it to number 50!!
Here's the second question, and it's about G-d:
It says that Adam HaRishon was the first to crown G-d as our King. A king must be appointed by the people, onto themselves, like the sages say, "Ain Melech B'lo Am", which means: There is no king without a nation. Only if there is a nation, are there people to rule and be king over.
So why do we say every morning in the beginning of our prayers, "Adon Olam asher malach bterem kol ytzur nivrah," which means: 'The Master of the world Who was King before any creation was formed'???? How could Hashem be King if there was no nation of creations yet to be king over?
I'll give 500 YossiPoints for the correct answer to number one, and 1,000 (!!!!!! So many, I know!!) YossiPoints for the answer to number two. Just go ahead and leave your answers in the comments to the post.
A few weeks ago I went to a shliach to lein and help make a minyan. His wife told the crowd that stayed for the kiddush about the following conversation she had with her four year old son.
"Mommy, do you know any girls?"
"Well, yes, I know lots."
"No, girls my age?"
"Sure. There's Daniella, Ariella.." and she continued to list the girls that come on Shabbos and play while their parents daven.
The boy then asked something about any of the girls wanting to marry him.
"Don't worry," the shlucha told her son, "when you are ready to get married there will be a line of girls waiting for you!"
The little boy thought about it, and said, "You know, I think a circle would be better. Then I could just stand in the center and choose."
We all laughed about how precocious, and practical this little shliach was.
The Yidden are counted for their third time as a Jewish people, in Parshas Bamidbar. Our sages tell us that throughout the entire Jewish history, we were counted nine times, and the tenth and final time will be when Moshiach comes.
There is an incredible commentary from the Ramban that gives us the source for the concept of going to a Rebbe! It is only a few lines amid a long explanation, and if you are not looking for it, you could miss it.
The Ramban, like many others, asks what the point of counting all the Jews was. More importantly, the Ramban asks about the manner in which they were counted. The Torah relates that every single Jew was counted. Why couldn't community leaders just come forward with numbers? And why did everyone counted need to pass by Moses and Aaron? (We see how our country conducts a census; there are census takers and data collectors. The government does not demand every citizen to walk by the White House, where the President counts as they walk by.)
The Ramban offers a fabulous answer. Every single Jew needed to pass before Moses and Aaron, in order for their two leaders to create a personal relationship with each citizen. Furthermore, when the Nassi looks onto them with a 'good eye', the Nassi then can pray and request brachos on their behalf before G-d.
Now, how did Moses and Aaron keep track of the escalating numbers of Jews from every tribe? The Ramban is of the opinion that every Jew handed in a half-shekel. (There are also Halachic problems with counting Jews directly, as the Ramban goes on to explain why King David was punished for counting Jews, whereas in our Parsha it is a directive from G-d to do so.) The Ramban says that when the citizen would hand in his or her coin to Moses, this was an atonement for his soul, in connection with the leader davening on his behalf.
So we see a very clear and true source for the idea of going to a Rebbe, having a Rebbe daven for you, and handing in 'maamed', or 'dmei hapan', which is money given to a Rebbe as tzedaka accompanying the chossid's requests in his pan, or letter.
The Rebbe says in the Hosafos of chelek Yud Gimmel of Likkutei Sichos that this Ramban is actually more of a source for the concept of handing in a pan, than for giving ma'amed. How so?
For this, I found help from a Young Israel Rabbi, who explains that we can combine the explanations of the Ramban with another classical commentator. Although the Ramban was of the opinion that the numbers were counted through the half-shekel, others disagree, pointing to the obvious lack of any mention of this half-shekel in the account in our Parsha. Rather, the Netziv (Rabbi Naftali Tzi Yehuda Berlin, son in law of the Volozhiner Rebbe) has a tradition from the Arizal that says that every person wrote on a piece of paper: his name, and his tribe's name. This is what we do in a Pan. We write a note with our name and our father's name, and hand it into the Rebbe to daven on our behalf and for the requests we include in the letter.
May we be zoche to the coming of Moshiach, when we will be counted for the tenth and final time as a Jewish nation, and we can pass before our Rebbe, our Moshe Rabeinu, with our Pan in hand!
He was learning in Lakewood, NJ at one point in his yeshiva career. The Hanahala found out he was planning to go to Crown Heights for Shavuous.
"What!?" they asked him, "For the Yom Tov of Matan Torah, where else could you be besides for Ir HaTorah??"
The Rosh told them, "With Moshe Rabeinu!"
Here are two quick vertlach from today's Released Time.
My chavrusa and I substituted for a group of children from a public school located at the bottom of Manhattan. We didn't intend to, but it ended up being played out as Good Bochur/Bad Bochur. I told all the stories and taught them about Shavuous, etc., and my chavrusa's main task was to hand out cookies and give them stern looks if they misbehaved. An eight year old girl named Ella complained to me, pointing to my chavrusa and declaring, "He's not blinking!!!!" I told her if she behaves, than maybe he'll blink.
On our way out of the subway, there was a man shouting quotes from the goyish bible at everyone walking past him up the stairs. Then he started chanting the name of the guy he worships, "Yoshke. Yoshke. Yoshke." Clapping his hands each time in a beat. My friend looks at me and singsongs the most popular cheer from overnight camps: "Sucks like crazy!" (Pardon my vulgarity. The S.L.C. chant is the most common form of smear campaign used in color war. While one team chants their team name, as in, "Adoneinu", or "Moreinu" or "Ray'ah Mehemna", the other team will stick in immediately the S.L.C. cheer to discredit their enemy's enthusiasm...)
Just today I finished learning the section of Yoreh Deah known as Hilchos Ta'aruvois.
Let me tell you, Siman Kuf Yud Aleph is such a great way to finish, if you've ever been there.
Ta'aruvois means forbidden mixtures. The jokes about a smicha bochur and Ta'aruvois are endless, and so cliche that oftentimes they do not even need to be said.
For those missing out on the humor, I'll give you the run-down.
Ta'aruvois we said means a mixture. The term given for the mingling or mixture of bochurim and meidelach is called Ta'aruvois as well. It is normally used in the negative context, denoting an inappropriate mixture. (In fact, some might say 'inappropriate mixture' in this case is redundant.)
Anyhoo, the joke of course is that you move on from one Ta'aruvois to another, i.e. dating...
Now you know.
And if you care to know what the last siman speaks about: What if you have two pots of food, and two pieces of meat, one of which is forbidden for consumption, and you know at least one of them fell into one of these two pots.....
I never knew nosson deitch. Never met him, never spoke to him. And he never met me, never spoke to me. Yet my friends did. A lot of them. And the amount of love, of warmth, of pain, of anguish, of feeling and emotion that has come with this tragedy leaves me inspired that if a 21 year old bochur can have such an amazing and powerful effect on our world, as is evidenced by the numerous memories on this blog, which had my tears flowing long into the night, then surely there is hope and surely we can and will follow his example and iy"h bring the geulah bemehayrah yameinu
Here's a quick little dvar Torah, that is one of my many 'pocket divrei Torah' that can come in handy whenever you're put on the spot at a Shabbos table. (The sichas I learned this week were long and complicated. You might benefit more out of this.)
This week's Parsha is a double, Behar and Bechukosai. "And G-d spoke to Moses, on Mount Sinai saying:" is how the portion starts.
Everyone knows why Har Sinai was chosen as the place to give the Torah. It* was the smallest mountain.
The Rebbe asks a very simple question:
If the whole point of choosing Har Sinai was to show the importance of humility, and to have shiflus and bitul, then why was a mountainchosen in the first place?! The Torah should have been given on the desert floor. Or better yet, in a valley! That's a really low place! So if it is important to give the Torah on a mountain, obviously that shows that might and boldness are what is emphasized. In that case, Hashem should have chosen the biggest and tallest mountain!
The answer, and therefore the lesson we must learn, is simple:
It is necessary to be humble and batul. But when it comes to Yiddishkeit and chas v'shalom something standing in our way, we must have the pride and strength to not let anything stand in our way. Sometimes we do need to be a mountain! We cannot let anyone trample over us or the principles of our faith.
*I say 'it', because growing up with the song, everyone knew Har Sinai to be female. However, in a sicha I was learning, the Rebbe clearly refers to Har Sinai as 'he'. I don't want to ruin anyone's memories and nostalgia. I also don't want to bring up a dispute about being unfair to women, either to call a mountain a woman, or to not call it a woman...
I might say this every year, but I like to point out that in parshas Behar is a very special possuk. Chapter 25, verse 10 reads: ".....And you shall proclaim liberty throughout the land, to all its inhabitants...."
Does this sound familiar? Do you know what proudly displays this message?
I wish everyone all the brachos, bgashmius u'bruchnius. We should all hear only good news, and see only revealed good. We should all grow in our Hiskashrus, and in becoming a true ChaYaL: Chossid, Yarey Shamayim and Lamdan.
We should all live langa yaren, long healthy and happy years, with Banay, Chayay, Mezonay Revicha!
In today's Hayom Yom, we are told that the Rebbe is never alone, and the Chossidim are never alone.
The fact that we don't find ourselves alone is much more significant now, after we've lost such a good friend. All of Nosson's friends and classmates and admirers have become closer and unified, as a comfort for each other.
I'm still on the prowl to find my hacker, but at least he seems to be a kindhearted one. Sort of like the helpful spammer who was giving blog compliments. As the author of my blog, I'm able to take down that post, and with Shloime Gertner singing, I was strongly tempted to do so, but I'm afraid to invoke the anger of the hacker. There are worse videos that could be posted. And if my hunch is correct as to the identity of said hacker, I think there are some videos that would be quite embarrassing for me personally if they were uploaded to a public viewing area.