Sunday, June 27, 2010

Manalapan

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.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Letters of Thought

 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.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

600th Post

I was thinking that I should do something really big for my 600. Perhaps you were, too.
Guess this is anticlimactic.
Sorry.
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.

Balak

Balak was a bad, bad man.

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.

May this happen really, really soon.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Hot Deal- Free trip to Israel!!!

Sizzling Hot! Hot! Hot! Get a free trip to Israel!!
If you are a frum bochur who is eligible for Birthright,
Follow this link:
http://www.yeladim-netivot.org/taglit-birthright-israel/subscribe.asp
and sign in for information about the winter trip.
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)!
(Mention this blog, and you may win a free Bedouin Camel!)
Hurry! Spaces are limited.
This is the deal of your life!


*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.

Jilp!

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.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Little things

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.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Poor man's troubles

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!"

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

It was us!!

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...

Recap

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!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

7-70 Camp

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.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Great Camp Idea

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.

*Not an actual cup. I mean this image.

Have a great Shabbos!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Correspondence from Mivtzoim

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,
*****

From: Yossi
To: *****

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?

From: ******
To: Yossi
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?

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Halacha for the day

It is not the halacha that a Mohel must circumcise his own son before making a Bris for someone else's baby!

Perhaps this was confused by some with the idea that it's better to do your son's bris yourself, since the mitzvah is on the father, and "Mitzvah Bo Yoser M'Bshlucho".

The only reason a Mohel may practically not be doing Brisin if he hasn't made one first on his own son is for the reason I mentioned in the previous post, regarding trust and experience.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Building trust

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.
Oh well.

(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.)

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Don't fall in love

"Don't fall in love; rise in love!"

- I heard this on Shabbos from Rabbi Herman, a shliach in North Carolina

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Spy out the land before you enter

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.

Ok, gotta run. Have a great Shabbos!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Land of the pines

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 importance of World History

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.

What does it all mean?

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.