Monday, May 31, 2010

Kangaroo

"You can't live life like a kangaroo!"

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.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Nosson's Shloshim

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 info@tanya4nosson.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!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Ta-da!!!

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.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Wedding, now cooking

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.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Unexpected Proposal

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!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Patience Rewarded

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.

Elections

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.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Destruction of the temple...nice!

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.

So me and Matis- not bad.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Half-truths

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!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Bananas

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.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Fun Activity

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.

Two questions

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.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Shidduchim

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.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Going before a Rebbe

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!

Have a good Shabbos!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Great Parade

I took this picture Friday morning, before the Parade. This bochur went to sleep probably only a few hours before I was walking past at 9 in the morning. He is sleeping on the future Yankee Stadium.

Moses!

The Rosh tells the following the story:

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!"

Released Time

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...)

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Ta'aruvois

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.....

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Snuggie

"A blanket with sleeves?!! My life is changed forever."
I just received this as a birthday present.
Oh boy!
(Snuggie does not come with this man or his PSP)

Friday, May 7, 2010

Memories

This was just posted on RememberingNosson. I think it's extremely powerful.

Amazing!
By anonymous

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

A mountain of a man

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 mountain chosen 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?

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Bsurois Toivos

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!
Moshiach Now!

We're never alone!

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.

Happy Birthday, Yossi!




Here's wishing Yossi an AMAZING year ahead filled with bracha, parnassa, hatzlacha, gezunt, simcha, and many reasons to share happy, joyous posts with his dear followers.

Happy Birthday :)


p.s. Yossi did NOT post this. A hacker did. For real. I know you don't believe me, but it's true. 


Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Balloons


These are the balloons I blew up last week for my sister's birthday. Of course, not all of them could fit in the picture. There were many in the kitchen, and one in the bathtub. It was over a thousand. I spent the whole day blowing and blowing.

Speaking of birthdays, tonight I am turning twenty two, for those of you keeping score at home. Or as we say in SfiraSpeak, "Last night I was twenty one."

Finally, if you didn't notice the change to the previous post, they decided on a much better name for the blog.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Remembering Nosson

rememberingnosson.com

Even if you didn't know him, you can enjoy reading the stories that his friends post about him.

Phone numbers

Every so often, I'll go through my contacts in my cell phone, to clean house. I'm sure I'm not the only one who quickly saves someone's number under a new name of "B", or "Hu". You think you'll just type in some random letters so you can save it fast, and then go back and put in the whole name. When I go through my list, I try remembering who the heck "Cd" is, and "M". So I just erase those entries.
Then there are those names you come across who are weirdos. You think about erasing those, too. I normally keep them in, not because I'm planning to call them, but for when they call me, I'm glad I have the caller ID to give me a fair warning.
Now here's the worst part. Deleting the name of someone you will never be able to talk to again.
It's hard for me to remove Nosson's name from my phone. It's not wishful thinking; I know we won't speak again before Tchias HaMeisim. And I know it is not causing me trauma from a symbolic standpoint: erasing his name is not erasing his memory.
That's where I'm at right now. I don't know what to do. Erasing the contact entry seems practical, and holding onto it seems unhealthy and useless.
I think for now I'll keep his name and number. This way, if I'm scrolling through my contacts, or searching for another name like Nissi, or Nota, I might suddenly come across his name, and I'll smile- like he always did.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Goodbye

I just came back from saying goodbye to Nosson Deitsch, of blessed memory. His levaya was in the tearful presence of hundreds of men and women. Any heart of stone would melt at the sound of a mother and family, weeping at the grave site of their son and brother.
I sometimes wish I could turn my mind off. Earlier today as I was standing in the soft rain outside of 770, waiting for the funeral procession, I could not help but think of another procession that came through just the day before. For Lag B'Omer we were having a blast, with thousands of smiling and laughing kids and parents. How different today was!
Hashem should comfort his family and the rest of klal yisroel.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Baruch Dayan HaEmes

My friend died today.
I've known about it since this afternoon, but only after I typed that first sentence did I start to cry. As I read the comments on COL, and I see that I'm not alone in my feelings, the tears continue.
Nosson Nota A"H ben Tzirel is right now lighting up the hallways and chambers of Heaven. Everyone is shocked about how this could happen. We all enjoyed his presence so much in this world, we didn't think that maybe Hashem was jealous and wanted him in His.
I still can't process this all. I want to vent my anger and confusion. I wish there was some way to express myself. I don't need a curse word, those are for lazy people who cannot think before they speak.
I was with Nosson on shlichus last year in Los Angeles. He was such a party animal, when he got started at a farbrengen, nobody was safe! The jokes and shtechs were flying, we couldn't get a serious farbrengen going! The strategy that developed was to help him down a bottle, watch him slip under the table, and then start! Of course, every ten minutes he would make sure we didn't forget about him.
Oy, Rebbe.
No more Golus.
And no more suffering! Their family in particular has gone through so much hardship, it's not fair.