Thursday, March 25, 2010

Why work yourself?

In Mountain Village, CO, we had such a positive influence on a non-Jewish lady and her husband, that when we passed her again later in the day, she said excitedly, "You guys missed three Jews!!"
Apparently, she had started to ask people if they were Jewish, and told them the little she learned about Pesach from what we had told her!
We were baruch Hashem so successful in our mivtzoim, that the goyim were doing it for us, as well!
All the Rebbe's koichois.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

From his holy mouth

A wonderful man in charge of a great organization in Lubavitch told us at our Yom Iyun Sunday evening:
"And I'd like to thank the generous families that gave money to support this, like the Rohr family, which is well known, and other individuals who I'm not interested in you knowing!"

America The Beautiful

Did you know that Katherine Lee Bates wrote the words to her poem "America the Beautiful", while inspiration hit her on top of Pike's Peak? The purple mountain's majesty and plains are the Colorado landscape she viewed.
She originally titled her poem "Pike's Peak", and the tune was added later.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Sound the Great Siren

Late last night in Crown Heights, the Shabbos siren went off, to our surprise. I was eating dinner in a friend's apartment, and we looked to each other in confusion.
To find out what had happened, we checked Drudge, to see if Moshiach had come.
While scrolling through the articles, we were fairly certain that the Heralding of Moshiach would be a big headline, so of course we were disappointed when we didn't see any mention of the Messiah.
What else could be reason to sound the siren, then?
And then we saw it. The U.S. House of Representatives had voted 219-212 for Obamacare. As I later read in many comments on COL and, we too had presumed the siren was a signal to the new era of socialism.
One friend of mine who had lived in Kfar Chabad became worried, and told us that they would sound a siren whenever someone chas v'shalom passed away.
We quickly checked COL to see if anything of the sort happened. Baruch Hashem, no bad news. In fact, there was great news, and we decided at once that the siren was in honor of Mendy Pellin having a baby boy!

In the end, though, it turns out that the siren was just an accident. Oh well.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Person of the year

Is it wrong to tell people that you won Time's Person of the Year award? After all, it was awarded to you back in '06..

I'm thinking about buying this tshirt:

Friday, March 19, 2010


I've finally found my doppelganger for Facebook:

Oscar the Grouch!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Once I'm doing Shel

This here poem reminds me of Chad Gadya, so it is doubly appropriate: Pesach is coming, and my last post had poems from Shel Silverstein.

Furniture Bash
The hand of the clock
Pinched the foot of the bed,
So the foot of the bed
Kicked the seat of the chair,
So the seat of the chair
Sat on the head of the table,
So the head of the table
Bit the leg of the desk,
So the leg of the desk
Bumped the arm of the couch,
So the arm of the couch
Slapped the face of the clock,
And they pinched and they punched
And they banged and the knocked,
And they ripped and they flipped,
And they rolled and they rocked,
And the poor dresser drawer
Got a couple of socks.
There was sawdust and springs
When I turned on the light
After that horrible furniture fight.
And that’s the truth, no lie– – no joke.
That’s how your furniture
All got broke. 

Some Shel Poems

Here are some poems by Shel Silverstein:

The hard coal’s bituminous,
Or is that the anthracite?
Stalactites grow down from caves,
Or do I stalagmites?
Those fluffy clouds are nimbus--
No--wait--they might be cumulus.
And that kid who was raised by wolves--
Was he Remus--or Romulus?
The brothauruses ate no meat.
Does that means they’re carnivorous?
Or were they herbivorous?
A camel is a pachyderm--
Or do I mean dromedary?
Is this match inflammable?
I thought it was incendiary.
Octagons--no hexagons--
No, heptagons have seven sides.
And don’t spray fruit with pesticides--
Or do I mean insecticides?
If I can see right through a thing,
Is it transparent--or translucent?
These are just some of the things
I find confusing…or confuscent.

The Mummy
Wrapped myself in toilet paper,
Head to toe to tummy.
Wrapped myself in toilet paper,
Thought that I’d be funny.
Wrapped myself in toilet paper,
Thought they’d call me “Mummy.”
Wrapped myself in toilet paper,
They just call me dummy.  

More Rebbe on Pesach

The Rebbe heard that some people thought to apply a filtering cloth to their sink faucets, as an extra stringency for chametz (this was before the paleontologists found the dinosaurs in our New York water).
The Rebbe said that first of all this was unnecessary, but more importantly: if you are worried for chametz in your water, than tying a cloth to your faucet lets it all build up, and then any water that comes out for sure would have the chametz in it!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Rebbe on Pesach cleaning

The Rebbe said, "Dust is not chametz and your children aren't the Karban Pesach!"

Sunday, March 14, 2010


I'm soon going out for breakfast with.... I think he may be my father's third cousin three times removed. Assuming I am correct, (but really, why should you?) I still don't know what that makes him for me. His grandmother and my father's grandfather (A"H) were cousins. So my great-great-great-grandmother is his great-great-grandmother.... I think.

We'll figure it out over bagels and (gasp) lox.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Disgustingly and Deliriously Happy

I am a very happy person. A simple proof for this is how I can't frown. It is also why only the smallest things could sometimes upset me, and I'll post rants about bathrooms built two feet from the dining room table, or how umbrellas are hard to use for different height people walking past each other. (Really big link, I know.)
You know what I found also upsets me? The fact that I'm upset.
I'll realize I'm in a sour mood, and that makes me more upset.

It's because I'm such a happy person. I'm not trying to toot my own horn, I'm just saying it the way it is. Baruch Hashem, my biggest problems are things like this, and my bad news consists of things like this.

I think I am not a good frowner because of how often I'm smiling or laughing. I just don't have enough practice with the upside down smile.

Now you're asking yourself what the point of this post was. What you really should be asking yourself is: "What would Yossi do"? If you're in a situation that seems tough, just find something that you can laugh at and incorporate into a witty blog post (or pretend blog post, if you're not a blogger.... yet).

Have a great Shabbos!

Oh. If you need a dvar Torah and you were counting on me to do your work for you, I'll leave you with a quickie: The women spun the goat-hair curtains on the goats themselves, while they were alive (the goats, as well as the women)!  How fun! Not so fun for the goats, though. Which is why, to not leave them in uncomfortable positions for more longer than necessary, the hair was cut off and woven into the curtains immediately, even before the beams of the Mishkan were constructed. Normally the way you build a house, you put up the walls, and then the ceilings. The yidden cared for the goats' comfort and made the curtains first. How much more so should we care for another Jew's spiritual well-being, and make sure he is not going through any soul-pains!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Scavenger Hunts

In CGI Montreal, there are tiny towns across the lake from camp. We'd row out there in boats once a week for 'runaways', and creative counselors would come up with scavenger hunts for the bunks.
These were the craziest scavenger hunts ever. Here are some things I've seen or wouldn't be surprised to see, on a list of things a bunk needed to accomplish:
  • Take a shower in someone's house
  • Get caught shoplifting
  • Hold up a bank
The first two I saw. The third I'm assuming could have been there. I'm not big into the chillul Hashem stuff, so I never was a good camper/counselor when it came to Montreal scavenger hunts.

Why am I speaking about camp? And why am I talking to myself?
I can't answer the last question, but as to the first: I've been preparing for the summer. We have to finish gathering our staff, and continue to work on ideas for learning classes, rain emergency plans, etc.
Did I tell you where I'm going? I decided to go back to Manalapan, NJ. Third time's the charm.

Um...Rabbi? Can you pass that plate?

I wonder if kids these days call each other Rabbi, like we used to.
Between the ages of 13 and 15, we'd call other little bochurs 'Rabbi' if we didn't know their name, in order to get their attention. The more chassidish you were, the more times you called someone 'Rabbi'- if I remember correctly.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Creative Writing

I wrote this a while ago. I'm not sure I like it, but nu, nu, I wrote it, and why hold it back from the criticizing masses?

He held the large hammer in his tightening grip. He gritted his teeth, and tried to imagine where he would be now, had things worked out as they should have.
"Just do it already!" the greasy teenager taunted him. At this point his little sister started to whine. Her. It was all her fault they were both here. He breathed out slowly, realizing that he should concentrate on how he could get out of this trouble, not on what got him here in the first place.
He looked down at the weapon he was holding. Was he about to add to its harmful and abusive history?
The sun had already dipped below the horizon. He needed to bring his sister home before dark. What would his parents say if he couldn't do that tonight? Only one thing was in his way, but could he actually go through with it?
All these thoughts flooded his mind, as the pressure grew from the rough teens around him.
His sister started to cry; he had heard that. Again, thoughts of how his parents or friends would react if they knew what he was doing, darted forth into his mind. Enough!
His muscles flexed as he heaved the hammer back, high above his head. With a mighty roar escaping his mouth, he brought the hammer down in a powerfully violent swing, and with destructive intentions.
Bright lights dazzled and shrieked as a small red ball flew higher and higher.
"And we have a winner!" the greasy teen said unenthusiastically as he handed a small, pink elephant to the boy.
The boy, exhausted from the effort, but with a satisfied look in his eyes, handed the prize to his sister, and asked, "Now, can we go home??"


Today some of the bochurim are being interviewed by Birthright people about their trips this summer. I went through the process a few years ago, so I was able to give some pointers and recall questions I was asked. I remembered a lot because I had blogged about it here. One great thing about blogging is that it helps you remember in greater detail events that took place. Even if I would not go back and read the posts about different things that happened to me, I still remember it more vividly than had I not recorded it down.
The end.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Thank the misnagdim for Purim

In the times of the Alter Rebbe there was a wedding (mazal tov!) between a Lubavitcher family and a Misnagdishe family. You can imagine the bitterness in the air. The wedding was around the time of Purim, and there was a custom to have a bachan, a joker, entertain the crowd.
First the misnagdim sent up a comedian.
Afterwards, R' Shmuel Munkes went forward from the Lubavitcher side, as a badchan. He said that the whole story of Purim only came about because of the misnagdim. Why? Because at Achashverosh's party, the Lubavitchers were sitting in a corner, with lots of mashke, and were farbrenging. They were having a jolly time. The misnagdim of Shushan, however, were sitting at their table, arms crossed, looking quite bored and sad. Achashverosh saw that this group wasn't enjoying his party, so he asked them, "Hey, wanna see my wife?"
At this point Shmuel Munkes jumped down from where he had been speaking, and ran away as fast as he could, before the misnagdim at this wedding could get their hands on him.
Later, the Alter Rebbe called R' Shmuel Munkes into his room, for he had heard of the incident. The Alter Rebbe demanded an explanation of this huge chillul shem Lubavitch.
R' Shmuel Munkes answered, "If you had heard them making fun of your Rebbe the way I heard them talking about mine, you would have done the same!"

Friday, March 5, 2010

My Best Friend's Wedding

If you thought you were my best friend, and did not get married last night, or did get married, but did not see me in attendance, don't fret! I've got lots of best friends. You and I are still good buds.

But yesterday I did go to Baltimore, and had a grand time with a lot of my friends and classmates making the 6-hour-total and 45-dollar-total-in-tolls trip.
None of us brought a camera, but picture this: A Bochur In Lubavitch wearing classy silver cufflinks, a hot silver tie (Now you should know, that the word 'hot' here denotes awesome and snazzy. Not hot as in 'hot pink'. 'Hot silver' would be some glittery neon color, and that's not what I mean with the word 'hot'. Okay, continue reading-) and fancy shirt.
I looked awesome, aren't you sad you missed it?
I don't remember if it was my idea first to wear ties, but in the end we all had them on. It had an interesting effect. Normally people look to bochurim to be the shleppers/fressers/dancers/niggun singers and crowd fillers. When someone would look to us, though, he'd have second thoughts. After all, we were wearing ties.
When I was speaking to the chosson, he introduced me to his new zaidy, who told me that a bochur only wears a tie when he's becoming a chosson... In fact, embarrassingly enough, I was asked if I wanted to be introduced to one of the Kallah's sisters... But I explained that I came with only the one purpose of dancing at my friend's wedding, not preparing for my own. **

I couldn't drink (that much...) because I was going to drive back after the chasunah, but in the end my friend made the drive back, instead.

It was a long day, and now I have to sleep so I can be awake on Shabbos.

** I'm really tired. If I was in a clearer state of mind, I would write some sort of ending line, starting with, "Besides, ....." and then write some witty reason why I didn't want meet any girls at the wedding. I was thinking about saying something about blogging, or smicha, but nothing really fell into place. Oh well.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010


Tomorrow morning I'm heading on a road trip to Baltimore, G-d willing. A very good friend of mine is getting married. I may even take a page out of TRS's book, and wear cufflinks!

Pending Assignment

My status on Merkos's website says I've been accepted and I'm pending assignment.
Here's what happened at today's meeting with the big Rabbi K.
About 12 of us were seated around the table. Rabbi K. started to ask us questions, the first of which: What's your name?
Would you be surprised if I told I got that question wrong? He had been checking off people's names on the list he had in front of him. With my luck, my name could not be found. Shneur N. told Rabbi K. that I was supposed to be on it, and with a sigh of relief, I wasn't told to get out of the conference room.
After our names, Rabbi K. started asking some basic questions that we might encounter on our shlichus. Why can't I marry this nonJewish woman? Why do we have to wait so long to eat at the seder? Why can't I bring in this expensive wine? What's with Karpas? Why are we stealing the afikomen?
Things like that. He was trying to impress upon us the importance of our shlichus, and how we must be prepared to respond to these types of questions someone with little or no Jewish education might ask.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

A Prominent Proboscis

I have a prominent, very Jewish proboscis. I'm not ashamed of it.
At the Purim party at the Chabad House on Sunday where I read the megillah, they had a caricature artist.
The drawing was a very compelling likeness of A Bochur In Lubavitch, except he made my nose huge. Seriously half the surface area of my face!
I don't find that funny. Why would I want to keep a drawing of me that looks ugly and ridiculous?
I wasn't the only victim. The shlucha's mother had her caricature drawn, and she ended up with three chins! I don't know what people think about noses, but I know that nobody likes to be drawn as a fat blob. Why would an artist draw people in an exaggerated, ugly light? I don't get it. Why would we want these drawings to remember the fabulous time at Chabad we had? We look awful.

Under the weather

I'm under the weather. I wanted to go to a doctor, just to make sure it wasn't anything serious. The first place I went to (and I won't tell you which doctor's office), the secretary basically told me it was too much trouble to get my insurance information from my provider, and she didn't feel like doing it, and I was told to leave.
I got frustrated at that point, and went in to apple drugs to buy me some Robitussin' lovin'. Good old Robitussin is always there for me.
Next I tried Dr. Rosen's office, and baruch Hashem they didn't care that I was a new patient, and knew exactly what to do with my insurance. The doctor's prognosis: I have the cold! Woohoo!
Then on to Apple Drugs again to pick up some doctor-advised claritin.

And that's how I spent my day today.
Tomorrow I have an interview with the Merkos office for them to send me on Shlichus for Pesach. I wonder if I should wear a tie to make a good impression...

Monday, March 1, 2010


Shushan Purim + Lchaim + Fitz = one wild party tonight at Lubavitch Yeshiva Crown. Mazal tov, Fitz!