Saturday, January 30, 2010

Dumbo booked Yossi

No, I wasn't arrested by an officer of the law named Dumbo.
Dumbo is really DUMBO, and the shliach there booked me to lein the megillah for Purim, night and day.
Now what should I dress up as?

Girl Power

Did you guys notice how this week's parsha was all about feminism?
First we have Miriam doing her own Song thang, with the womenfolk.
Then in the haftorah, we've got Devorah, the woman Shofet, doing her thang with Barak and going to war.
Of course we have Yael, who decapitated Sisra, and gave inspiration for Yehudis in the story of Chanuka, a while later in time.

Have some fun with your friends

Here's something fun you can do with your friends, if there are other people about.
Turn to your friend and ask, "So in how long can I finally tell people? A week? Sooner?"

This works for all single bochurim, and single girls. I guess this would work for a married girl, but you wouldn't be joking about getting engaged, but rather her being pregnant, and I'm not sure you'd want to pull that one. It's up to you.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Tu B'Shvat

Here's a quick vort I picked up, in the name of R' Moshe Rubin:

Trees in a forest all grow straight and tall, while the branches of a city tree bend & twist, producing poor lumber. In the forest, the trees stand crowded together, so they limit each other's spread. But a lonely city tree grows unrestrained all over the place, because it has nothing to stop it.
A man is like a tree in the field. It is much better for a person to grow along with others, than to grow by himself, all alone.

It's interesting to note that many people do not realize what it means, when we say "Ki Adam Etz HaSadeh".
We always say that it means, "A person is like a tree of the field."

If you look at the posuk where it's from, you'll see it's actually written as a question. "Is a person like a tree of the field [that can run away from battle]?" The psukim are discussing the prohibitions of cutting down certain trees during a siege on a city.

This doesn't chas v'shalom negate anything chassidus or mussar explains from the idea that a person is like a tree. Because although it's in question format, it is comparing them to a certain degree. And the gemara in Taanis asks on this posuk: How is a person like a tree? So obviously there is some comparison.

Anyway, have a good shabbos, and a renewed and fresh year on this Tu B'Shvat.
Also remember that this shabbos is Shabbos Shirah, and we do not throw bread to the birds on Shabbos. You're going to have to do that on Friday, if you wish.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

I need help.

Ha, ha. Very funny.

No, not that kind of help. Or if I did, I wouldn't be revealing it on a public blog.

Instead, I need help with understanding our Parsha. AND THIS ISN'T A DVAR TORAH, SO YOU DON'T HAVE TO SKIP IT.

The very first possuk explains how Hashem led the Jews in a roundabout way, to avoid coming into contact with the Plishtim, who would start a war. The Jews would be novices in warfare, and Hashem wanted to let the Jewish people get used to being the Jewish Nation for a while, before dealing with such things. Rashi says he didn't want to scare the Jews. After all, they were running for their lives, away from the Egyptians, they would not be too relieved to see that what faced them was a mighty Plishtim army.

Okay, so that's the first possuk. In the second possuk, it says that the Jews left Egypt armed! They took weapons out with them! And that wouldn't scare the begeebees out of them?

Imagine leaving Egypt, and suddenly a man comes forward, and hands you a huge battle-ax you can barely carry. "Oh, my! What the heck am I supposed to do with this?" But he doesn't hear your question because he has already moved on past you to hand a deadly broadsword to the woman behind you.

So they were told, "Yeah, guys, don't worry, peaceful journey. Just make sure to polish these throwing knives we're handing out, and read the manual on deathgrips."

The only way to understand this would be to say that the Jews knew eventually they would have to fight wars, so really, taking all these weapons out with them would calm them, knowing they'd eventually be prepared, instead of freaking them out, as I originally described.

But I don't know. What do you guys think? I haven't looked up any meforshim, so maybe there's something there.

You're fired!

Up in Heaven, some poor angel is packing up his paperweights and pencil holders into a cardboard box and is handing in his keys to the office.
Job cuts aren't limited to Earth, apparently.
Because you better believe that the angel who accidentally pushed the 'Snow' button this morning was told to find a different job.

I just hope he can get back onto his feet, to support his family of little Seraphim and Cherubs.

An angel who wishes to remain anonymous explained the situation these days Up There:
"It's pretty crazy. What with the reading of all the Panim from Yud Shvat, and all the Tree Contracts that need to be renegotiated in time for Tu B'Shvat... I can see how an angel might make mistakes like this."

At the lchaim

Last night I attended a Lchaim, mazal tov mazal tov.
Everyone is special, and deserves mention, but I'll point out those with a shaichus to Blogger with whom I spoke:
TRS, The Tippler, Shriki, and Jonathon were the Bloggers. Fakewood and LazyBoy were the Commenters.
The Bloggers allowed these Commenters to sit and shmooze, as equals. We are not elitist. Even though, let's face it, we don't need Commenters (proof is November '09, when I didn't have comments available, and I still blogged healthily), they are still appreciated.

Here's a quick list of some things I learned while at the lchaim:
  • A kapotah can set you back up to $900.
  • A ring can set you back Twenty Five Hundred!!
  • If you accidentally spill your mashke on your pants, others will be inclined to accidentally spill on you, as well.
  • Be careful not to compare the relationships between a chossid, mashpia, and the Rebbe to terms you learned in Bassar Bchalav, because if an aquaintance of your's is drunk, he could misunderstand you, believe you are disrespecting the Rebbe, and slap you in the face. (Notice the term 'aquaintance'. So if you've been paying attention, I've clearly outlined two distinct ways to fall from my graces. 1) Steal my name and open a Gmail account, and 2) hit me. )
  • If you're at the right place at the right time, you can get a piece of the plate they break. I'm still not sure what I'll do with it...

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

When The Dog Bites

Okay, so according to Maria from The Sound of Music, if a dog is attacking you and biting you, and you are in excruciating pain, and worried about rabies and diseases and possible amputation, there is a simple solution to alleviate some of the pain, and make things better.

Just think about something like whiskers on a kitten or packages tied with string.
That will make things all better.

So imagine:
A friend of mine is walking, turns the corner, and sees that a ferocious and vicious looking dog is biting me with a locked jaw, just above the knee. "Oh, no, Yossi!" my friend cries out in alarm. He looks at me, and is startled by the calm, if not enraptured look on my face.
"Don't worry, friend. Cream colored ponies... cream colored ponies."

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


I saw Matisyahu today in 770. I'm not normally there for shacharis, so that was cool.
I see TRS frequently, and it's always nice to meet him.
And last night at Beis Rivkah, I saw: BENNY FRIEDMAN!!!! Since I've never told you my Benny Friedman story, I guess now is a good time:

A few months ago, late at night, I was crossing Eastern Parkway. Oh, and I was minding my own business. Ahead of me were two fellows, one of which looked (from the back) a lot like The Benny.

In a really high and bewildered voice, I cry out, "Benny Friedman???!"
Lo and behold, The Benny turns around, gives me a look, and continues walking away from me.

I was stunned. When I reached the other side of the street, I see The Benny was there. As he shook my hand, he explained, "Sorry. I'm not allowed to be seen in the middle of the street anymore!"
Get it? Because of all the stupid feeback he got about his CD cover?? So The Benny on the spot, made up a funny joke, just for me! For me!

Monday, January 25, 2010

YossiNews (or: I'll tell you what iz neias)

Here are some headlines I've gathered from various news outlets:

YossiPoints Fall Against the Euro
Wall Street, New York- Despite a recent rally, YossiPoints have fallen against the Euro at the end of this quarter. However, with the decline of the MottelPoint due to a decrease in posts in these last weeks, the YossiPoint is still a safer and more stable investment for Americans than MottelPoints. Financial analysts advise South American and Croation bloggers to invest in the BlogspotFrancs, which have been steadily rising in value since the mid 1980's.....

Housing Bubble Bursts
Richmond, Virginia- A large housing bubble in the greater Richmond area burst this week. Hundreds of pedestrians were caught unawares and were taken to Memorial Regional Medical Center to remove the goo from their hair...

Congress Debates on Facebook Elections
Washington, D.C.- This week in the U.S. House, Representatives will debate the proposed Constitutional Amendment to change the presidential election process. The Stanley-Wolkoff Bill is a proposal that in effect renders the Electoral College obsolete. Registered voters will simply become a 'fan' of the candidate of their choice. To preempt corruption of ballots, voters will not be able to 'poke' or 'throw a sheep' at other voters. They will of course still be able to invite other voters to Mafia Wars and Farmville, as Fred Wolkoff, one of the co-authors of the bill, maintained: "Without Farmville, what point is there really of Facebook?".....

NASA Publishes Shocking and Never Before Seen New Moon Photos
Universal City, California- Summit Entertainment Studios sues....

Sunday, January 24, 2010

"Tefillin on a Plane!"

I know you don't care that much to be bored with all my insightful commentary into the whole Tefillin Terrorist thing.

If I could hold your attention for just one moment, I do want to share with you the following:

Please, let's not have to look like idiots by stupidly assuming that Goyim know what the word phylacteries means! We can just say tefillin, and either they'll know what it is, or not.

Proofs from Nigleh YossiQuiz

Okay, so chassidus puts forth many different ideas on various topics. Almost all can be proven from Nigleh, as well.

The Questions:
  1. What is the proof in Nigleh (revealed Torah. Like gemara, shulchan aruch, mishna, tanach...) for the concept of: Moach Shalit Al HaLev, which means 'the mind controls the heart'?
  2. What is the proof in Nigleh for the idea of Hashgacha Protis that the Ba'al Shem Tov taught, how every single little creature and creation on this world has a specific purpose and Hashem directly is involved with their every move?
The YossiPoints:
  • 250 YossiPoints for the answer to either question, and 600 if you can answer both!
  • 50 FOLLOWER BONUS YossiPoints
  • 3 YossiPoints for every true compliment you can give yourself. Limit six per customer.
The Last Words:
'Good luck!'

Thursday, January 21, 2010


Just found out I'm farbrenging tomorrow night for some of my bochurim from last year.
Anyone have any ideas for topics to farbreng about with 15 year olds? Besides for the usual Yud Shvat angle, obviously.

Chelek Vov

Those are the two magic words, boys and girls. "Chelek Vov."
It's a great sicha about Yud Shvat. In a nutshell:

The Frideiker Rebbe's two main parts to his Avoda were:
To spread Torah, and specifically chassidus, to every single place in the world, and
To encourage everyone to do their own Avoda in a way of Zrizus, diligence. Don't push it off.

These two themes can be seen in the two medrashim which are brought in the beginning and end of the Ma'amer that the Freidiker Rebbe gave out for his Yahrtzeit, "Basi L'Gani".

Basically, the Rebbe in this sicha explains how each medrash is connected with one of the two parts of the Freidiker Rebbe's Avoda.

The bulk of the sicha, though (and it's a short sicha), is dealing with the claims of the Yetzer Hara. Some of the twisted thoughts he tries stuffing in our head:
  • The world as we see it is full of Evil. It is full of Klippos. Since Hashem is All-powerful, and obviously nothing can be done without His rule, then this is how Hashem intends for the world to be. How can we, mere mortal men, even think we have the power to change this world?
  • If our bodies used to be dirt, and will return to dirt, then what is the point on working to refine ourselves? We're just going to end up being worm-food, anyway!
  • If Hashem is planning to bring Moshiach, then obviously Moshiach is coming (see how chassidish our Yetzer Hara is?). Why is it so important we put a rush on things, and put everything else aside, just to do as much Torah and Mitzvos as possible? Either way, Moshiach is coming. Let someone else bring Jews to Yiddishkeit. I'll stay home and play with my children.
Some good questions, huh?

The Rebbe answers all of these with a new way of looking at what it means 'to make this world a Dirah B'Tachtonim'.

We are not making this world into a Dwelling Place for G-d. This is a Dwelling Place for G-d. We just have to reveal it. The world is really a holy world filled with Kedusha. We are really holy people, filled with Kedusha. Even our bodies have G-d's Essence embedded in them. The Passuk says "Uvanu Vacharta", referring to our physical bodies as well, Hashem chose.
This that the world looks like a world of Evil, and this that our bodies decay after death, is only something exterior to the truth.

Anyway, make sure to learn it for yourself. Chelek Vov, sicha for Yud Shvat!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

A real page-turner

I've found that the thing I'm second busiest with in my Smicha learning is: page-turning.
I'm constantly flipping pages, and counting.
"We have to do five more pages today....If we do two tonight..."
In Bassar Bchalav, in the edition of the Shulchan Aruch from which I'm learning, there are about 130 pages to learn. Now that I've started chazarah (my test is in a few weeks....yikes!!!), it's even more all about the pages.
"We have to chazzer 12 pages a day, to finish once in a little more than two weeks..."

What's the number one thing I'm busiest with?
You'll just have to use your head and figure that out.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Running of the hats

You've seen it. Remember?
You were standing on the corner, minding your own business, when all of a sudden a black hat sails by you, tumbling softly in the wind. Two seconds later, a bochur with an arm on his head and a tear in his eye is chasing after it, his eyes growing wider and wider with every bounce and tumble his AWOL hat makes. You watch with mixed emotions as the hat lands with a perfect dismount- right into the only murky puddle on the street.
It's The Running of the Hats.

Originating in Brooklyn out of necessity, it has become a sport of an almost cult-like obsession, replete with a six day festival in Pamplona, Spain, a book club, and an amusement park: ROTH World. Of course, the sport has incited anger in some, causing the formation of MAROTHAN (Mothers Against Running of the Hats and Narishkeitin).

The Pamplona ROTH festival drew critical media attention two years ago, when two men were killed. City officials in Pamplona, in a press conference, explained that the unfortunate mishap was a result of the 'No Yarmulka' rule. If only they had kept their heads covered with at least an elbow, they would not have gotten hurt.

Here in Brooklyn, some avid ROTH fans can be seen lurking on corners, waiting for the real Running of the Hats to occur, as opposed to the fake Runs in Spain or Czechoslovakia, for example.

"This is where it all began," one ROTH'er told us, "on the streets!"

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Come out of the freezer

It's Shvat.
And you know what that means.
Well, maybe not.

In Lakewood, Ir HaTorah, BMG has a rule for any bochur planning on enrolling for the yeshiva year. The Bochurim cannot start to date until after Tu B'Shvat.

Until Tu B'Shvat, they are 'in the freezer', waiting to thaw out, date, marry, go to Kollel, and go on to become a Gadol Hador. Or Millionaire Tycoon if you think you can spin your way, and still collect bridge tolls...

So let's go, all you secret Lakewooders. It's time to start coming out of the freezer.

Paltiel fans, eat your heart out!

The great and holy Rabbi Paltiel invited me for last night's seudas Shabbos.

I bet you wish you could touch me.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Yossi Montana

I'm able to share this information with you, since the four-year confidentiality clause I agreed to is up. Or so my lawyers tell me.

Everyone has heard of the fame and success of Disney's Hanna Montana, but few (until now) know the truth about who was first approached for the title character of Disney's newest show.

It was me.

The working title was Yossi Montana, and we shot the pilot episode along with the first few episodes. The people at Disney decided at the last moment to switch actors, to appeal to more 10-year-old girls than I would have been able to achieve.

Also, as my 'alter ego' in the show, I didn't look very believable with a blond wig.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

I'll tell you why the frogs

The Rebbe explains what the deal with the frogs was, in a sicha in Chelek...Chof Vov, maybe?

The purpose of the plagues was not just to punish the Egyptians. The plagues were also meant to instill in them an acknowledgment, and subsequent submission to G-d. The Egyptians had a unique type of Klippah that needed to be broken. They were...froggy. And I'll clarify what I mean with that.

There are three basic ways to rebel against Hashem. The three who crystallize these ways are good old villains of Judaism: Paaroh, Bilaam, and Sancheriv. Let us start with Bilaam.

Bilaam was a bad guy. But he knew who G-d was, and that He wasn't someone to mess around with. Bilaam declared that he could not go against G-d. Yet this belief system which many goyim held, declared that there were other powerful gods.
Sancheriv completely went against G-d, and tried to deny His existence. But what happens when you are strongfully opposed to the existence of something? You automatically prove the validity of that thing, which is causing your rebellion. (If you want to say this is like how an atheist saying he doesn't believe in G-d means he really must, you can. I'm not sure if it's the same here, though.)
Paaroh, though...that Paaroh. What did he tell his people? He had them convinced that he created the Nile river, and that he created himself! He wasn't denying the existence of G-d. He was saying that he was G-d. The real G-d and His existence never came up in discussion.

This last version of rebellion is the worst of the three. And it is represented by.... you guessed it: frogs!

The sages had proved that flies and mosquitos, while appearing extra, are in fact beneficial for the world. This parallels the idea of believing in the existence of G-d, but viewing Him as uninvolved with the world, and leaving other gods (Chas vshalom) in His place.

The sages even said that the dangerous, poisonous animals, which go against the wellbeing of the world, and detract from it, are still used for Hashem's shlichus. Even in such hurtful creatures we can see the existence of G-d. Like when they are used to punish the wicked.

But what about frogs? They aren't beneficial, but neither are they harmful. They're just...bleh. Nothing. You cannot see their purpose in G-d's world and G-d's mission for them. This is exactly the type of klippah that Egypt had!!

So Hashem blasted them with tons of frogs, to break this form of Klippah the Egyptians had. Even Paaroh who did not show the least recognition of Hashem's existence, whether supporting or denying Him, was stricken by this plague. Even Paaroh saw that this was coming from Hashem, and eventually even Paaroh acknowledged Hashem's existence, power, and control.

Have a good shabbos!
And Shabbat Shalom for my Hebrew speaking readers.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

What's with the frogs?

All your water shall turn to blood! (Dun, dun, dun....)
The land will be plagued with swarms of devastating locusts and wild animals! (Dun, dun, dun...)
Your firstborn shall be smitten! (Dun, dun, dun....)
There will be lots of frogs! (Huh??)

Frogs? Seriously, though. Frogs?

Ask any of the campers in CGI Manalapan; frogs are no form of punishment. They are the best form of entertainment/pet/reward on the face of the planet. Put one in a cup, and your day is set.

Okay, so looooots of frogs could be hazardous, but so could tons of fluffy cotton balls.

The medrash records differing opinions about the creatures we find on Earth. The Rabbis say that "Everything Hashem created on this world, was not for naught." They go on to explain that this includes even flies, mosquitos, gnats, and the like. Although they seem insignificant and unimportant, there are still uses for them, as the Gemara provides remedies for different animal bites and ailments, which include mosquitos in the recipe, for example. Rav Acha goes one step further. Not only does this statement about Hashem's creations include the smallest gnat, which as the gemara explains actually does make a beneficial impact on the world, but even dangerous and harmful animals which are bad for the world were not created for nothing. "Even the snake, even the scorpion, and even the frog," Rav Acha explains, still have a purpose in their creation. Not only do they have a purpose, but Hashem tells his prophets, that Hashem can have these creatures fullfil His shlichus.
An example is how harmful and poisonous creatures are used to punish Reshaim, "Like with the frogs in Egypt. For without the frogs," Rav Acha concludes, "how else would the Egyptians be punished?"

The Rebbe says this does not make any sense. Like we said before, frogs are not harmful animals. Why are they the most extreme example of harmful animals? Also, 'how else could Egypt be punished?' Hmmm. Let's see. How about with blood, or boils, or any of the other plagues??
The question boils down to (pun intended): what's the deal with the frogs?

Anywho, I'm going to stop here for now. I'll probably finish with the explanation tonight or tomorrow. I don't want this getting too long, 'cause then nobody would read it. Feel free to put in the comments any explanation you know of.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Goat

This past summer in Manalapan, one of our vehicles was dubbed "The Boat". This was a real clunker owned by the Chazanows, and lent to the counselors. It was called The Boat because it was big, clunky, blue, an Oldsmobile, and had terrible steering and handling.
The air conditioner didn't work and the windows couldn't open (or if you did manage it, they wouldn't close. Normally in times of rain.) Every time I rode or drove in The Boat, I sweated profusely, and since I was exhausted from the day, I would fall asleep (pass out would be a better word to describe it, perhaps), wake up and roll out of the car feeling like I came out of hell.

Anyway, over Chanuka I went on mivtzoim for R' Chazanow's son-in-law, and we were not given The Boat. The Boat had died after the summer, after hitting a deer. When I heard the news, I must be honest that I shed no tears. The car we did get was almost as bad as The Boat. The windows worked, as did the heating (it was the winter. We didn't care if the A/C worked or not), but the stench inside the car was horrendous.

Wanting to preserve the few fond memories we had with The Boat, we decided to name this new car The Goat. (Because it rhymes, and goats smell. Duh.)

Sunday, January 10, 2010

A letter from AJewishStar to me

Here's an email I received before Shabbos from AJewishStar:
Some names have been changed to preserve privacy.

Dear Yossi Shminkelstein,

We regret to inform you that both the producers of A Jewish Star and COL Live, in a unanimous decision, have decided not to allow your audition tape as an official entry. Your video will not be made available to the general viewing public. You will not be given the chance along with the other contestants to be voted upon for the right to sing with Avraham Fried in the Soul II Soul concert.

We do not believe this comes as a shock to you, especially regarding the content of your email dated 19 Teves. Your last correspondence proved your immaturity and insincerity as to your motives for participating in A Jewish Star.

As previously mentioned, "And the mess grew bigger" by Uncle Moishe is not an acceptable niggun. Among the rules clearly stated on our website: You must sing and submit a recognizable Chabad Niggun.

Furthermore, it is clear to any of us who watched your video that you lack any professional talent in the musical field.

This must not come as a surprise to you. Nobody could have fooled you into thinking this long that you actually have a good enough voice to make it anywhere in life.

Therefore, we must assume you submitted the video purely to make a mockery of A Jewish Star, Soul II Soul, COl Live, Avraham Fried, Itzchak Bondarev-Dobruskin, and Noach Reshef.

Tickets to the Soul II Soul concert will be available for purchase at Judaica World.

Please do not waste our time with any more correspondence.


A little harsh of them, don't you think??

Yossi @ Gmail

I need a last name for this post, so it will be Shminkelstein.

I only jumped on the Gmail bandwagon after it became mainstream. Perhaps if I had been invited... ahem. Don't worry, I don't hold any grudges against you Gmailers from four years ago.

Anywho, I never took the gmail account of I had other accounts I was using, and never got around to taking my full name.

Last year, a fellow shliach and former friend (you'll soon see why) thought this was stupid of me, and proceeded to create for himself a account! I was upset, but he was adamant about teaching me a lesson. I'm not sure what the lesson was...
The problem was, that he forgot the password he used, and so a few months ago I decided to try and figure out the password to his/my account. He had somehow not linked it to another account, so we couldn't just send the password to a different email.

It came to pass (the lashon used when bad things happen...) that my former friend realized he had spelled my name wrong, even. So if he didn't make YossiShminkelstein, then who did?

I was nervous to just email this mysterious YossiShminkelstein, but a fellow blogger and new friend (see how easy it is for me to just dump friends and make new ones? One little bad move, and you're outta here!) pushed me to email him. After reading a funny draft that this blogger forwarded to me, to use as my own email to my Gmail twin, I wrote instead a simple email:

Hi. My name is yossi shminkelstein, and I noticed this gmail account was already taken, by you.
I always wondered if there was another yossi shminkelstein out there... In case your name isn't yossi, would you mind if I had your email instead? this date I have received no response.

Will this evil twin of mine finally step forward and duel me for our gmail rights? Or will he retreat back to his online lair of malevolence?

Friday, January 8, 2010


It's a fun daydream of mine to write a Jewish book in which:
  • Every single Jewish character does not become frum in the end/ Moshiach comes
  • The characters are not two-dimensional
  • There are no scary phone calls from people with thick, guttural, Arab accents
  • If a father passes away, no secret compartments or secret envelopes are found in his study
  • The imagery is not overplayed right in the beginning, to prove it's a professionally written book, but then forgotten altogether after the second chapter
While I'm on the subject, some Jewish novels have problems with their plots and storylines that are clearly mistakes. Take the book "The Eye of the Storm".
The family is planning a trip to India. The mother is terrified when she gets a mysterious phone call by an Arab with a guttural thick accent warning her that there would be danger if she and her family went to India. The father was not scared enough to change his travel plans, they went anyway, and (it's not much of a spoiler, because a) it's a bad book, and b)this happens in the beginning) the parents get captured, along with one of the sons.
As you find out much later in the book (and this is a spoiler), the plan was to draw the family out to India in order to capture them.
Now one second. Why would the bad guys try scaring them off from coming, if the whole plan was to get them to come??!!!
Also, a surviving son grows up and starts a yeshiva, which (another spoiler) is meant to just spy on the organization next door. This son works very hard to get a particular Rosh Yeshiva, and a specific type of yeshiva, when all he had to do was snoop around in the bushes, if he wanted to spy on the group of people in the area. Why convince a Rabbi to leave the Yeshiva in which he taught, and attract bochurim from other Yeshivas? If he wanted a legitimate enterprise next door, he could have just opened up a carwash or something.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Sichas and Such

First of all, the sicha I mentioned before and suggested for you to learn, the Tracht Gut sicha of chelek Lamed Vov, I already wrote about last year, here.

But why just recycle?

In a sicha in chelek Chof Vov, the Rebbe speaks about Moshe's birth and passing, which occurred on the same day, Zayin Adar.
Haman was very pleased when his lots fell on the month of Adar, the month in which Moshe dies, and saw this as a good omen that his plans would succeed.
Why did his plans backfire? The gemara tells us that he didn't realize Moshe was born, as well, in Adar. In the zchus of his birth, Moshe saved the Jewish people thousands of years later (well, not so many thousands, but it sounds better than hundreds) in the land of Persia.

A different gemara says that Moshe didn't die.
Rashi says that Moshe's birth was a Kapparah for his death.
We see that Moshe's birth indeed was something great, and had the zchus to overturn Haman's decree.

But one second...
There is a medrash that explains that the day of a person's passing is better than the day he is born, for when he his born, who knows how he'll end up? Only once someone passes away, does the world see all of his life's work and the completion of his Avoda.

This must be true about Moshe as well, if not to a greater degree! Moshe, after all, accomplished so much in his lifetime.
The question then, is why didn't the gemara simply say that the reason Haman's plans fell through was in the merit of the very thing Haman was so gleeful about? Say that Haman thought Moshe's death was a bad sign for the Jewish people, but in reality, Moshe's death held so much zchus for Moshe and his people, that it overturned the evil decree and created a day of joy instead!? This would be much simpler for the gemara to answer!

The bulk of the sicha is explaining what it means that Moshe didn't die, and how Yakov didn't either. They both were the midah of Emes, which is eternal, and therefore live forever, even in this physical world. The Rebbe explains why by other Tzaddikim, although in a sense, like the Alter Rebbe explains, they are more present in this world after their passing than when they were alive, but still it only says about Moshe and Yakov that they didn't die.
The Rebbe speaks about how every generation must have an Extension of Moshe. Which means his soul lives on forever, into every subsequent generation, which shows his midah of Emes. Didn't his physical body die, though? How can we say that Moshe, even in this physical world, lives forever, if there was an interruption and change in his physical state? Any change means that the thing is not True.
The Rebbe says, and this is mind-blowing if you think about it, that Moshe lives eternally, in body and soul, in every generation. Not only does the leader of the generation have Moshe's soul, but he also has Moshe's physical body!! While Moshe was alive, his body looked one way, and in every generation, the body of the leader is what Moshe's body looks like now. Incredible, huh?

The Rebbe of course speaks about Yakov, as well, how it says he lives forever because his children live forever. The Rebbe explains that actually, the reason his kids live forever is because Yakov lives forever, and gave them this Eternal Life he has.
So the order is: Yakov lives forever. Therefore his children live forever. Therefore he lives on forever.

Oh, I almost forgot. When Moshe was born, the whole house was filled with light. This was because of who Moshe was, and what type of Neshama he had. At a person's passing, we see all his life's work. Moshe's birth was unique, though. Right away we saw how incredible he was, and how the G-dly Light shone into his soul, and how it was Moshe's ability and mission to bring the light to the world.
So yes, Moshe's birth was so powerful, it was an atonement for his death, and what truly caused the decree of Haman to be changed to a day of celebration, and an eternal holiday, as it says when Moshiach comes, only Purim will remain.

Anyway, it's a great sicha, but it takes time to learn, and I didn't give you a good summary or explanation. I just gave you most of the points. To sum it up in one sentence: It's long, but rewarding.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

My life-changing and earth-shattering discovery about falafel

Yesterday the Yeshiva served falafel.

A friend of mine commented, "Mmmm. This is good falafel."

Really? I thought. I don't think it's that great. I couldn't remember tasting anything better, though.

Then it hit me:

This whole time, for over 21 years that I've existed, I always thought that I've never eaten good-tasting falafel. 'Eh' was always what I thought.
But yesterday, it occurred to me: I don't like falafel!!!
It's not that I like falafel, but I've never tasted good ones. Rather, I don't like falafel, which is why I never liked what I tasted. So even yesterday's "good" falafel in the eyes of my fellow eaters, wasn't so good in my eyes!! But it was indeed good, I just don't like eating falafel!!

This caused a huge upheavel in everything I once thought sacred, and caused me to reexamine my whole life.
Of course, I shared this revelation with the bochurim during today's lunch.
Their wide-eyed stares, gaping mouths and shaking of their heads just proved the sheer magnitude of my findings.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Poem of snow

Flurries bring worries of snow, don't 'chya know?
And the hail is a painful detail.
When there's ice all about,
and the heating cuts out-
As long as our Wifi prevails!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

If you prick us, do we not bleed?

Today, I donated blood!!
And that is a big deal, don't just roll your eyes, because last time I tried, my blood just refused to come out, and after poking me up a few times in each arm, they had called it quits.

Today, however, after 20 minutes of donation, I managed to bleed the required amount, thank you very much.

(The title of the post is a quote from The Merchant Of Venice. If I'm not mistaken, I believe it's about Jews, actually.)

Must Learn This Sicha

You've got to learn the Tracht Gut Vet Zayn Gut sicha of chelek Lamed Vov in Parshas Shemos this week.
It is definitely in the Top 20 list I told you guys about before.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Answer to Vayechi Quiz

Some of you gave pretty learned responses, and I am again impressed with the erudition of my readers. The question was:
Efraim, the younger brother, was going to have greater descendants than Menashe, which is the simple reason why Yakov wanted to give Efraim the better blessings. Why couldn't Yakov give the better blessings to Menashe, which would then cause his descendants to be greater?

The answers you guys gave were all according to Chassidus and Kabbala, how the Avoda of Efraim worked more with Yakov's, etc.

The question was more general, though. I asked why couldn't Yakov give the blessings and cause Menashe's descendants to be greater?

The answer I was looking for:

The Rebbe explains in a sicha (somewhere) what is known in Chassidus about the difference between a Tefillah and a Bracha. Basically, Yakov could not give Menashe a bracha that would make his descendants greater.
When you give someone a bracha, you are just bringing down something which was slated for that person anyway, but was in a concealed state, and you are revealing it to come down for him here. The word 'bracha' comes from the word 'beraicha' (similar to beraika, but without the potato and spinach) which means a pool of water. It's as if you have a huge pool of goodness above your head, which Hashem decided you get if you deserve it. A bracha draws down from this pool. It cannot draw something higher that was not predestined for you.
That's what a Tefillah is for. Through davening, you can create a new G-dly Desire for someone.

Of course, some special brachos do have the ma'aleh of tefillah also. I believe Birkas Kohanim is one example, although to some opinions it is a bracha from Hashem, just transmitted through the Kohanim.

Anyway, have a good Shabbos.

Harry Potter is an idiot

If you discovered that you could do magic, would you really waste your seven years of school flying around on a broom? Wouldn't you try to learn as much magic as possible? The only magic Harry seems to want to learn is only that which will help him pass his tests.
Dude. You can do incredible magic. Why don't you try your hardest to learn how?

(So, too, 'Ashreinu Ma Tov Chelkeinu', why waste our years in yeshiva? We have magic at our fingertips, we just need to open our eyes and our seforim to see it...
Of course, I'm not trying to limit which lesson about Avodas Hashem you take from my post. Feel free to throw in any other lesson you could learn.)