Monday, November 28, 2011

If you can't take the heat

Yesterday I made a bagel for lunch. The loving and supportive husband I am, I offered to make lunch for my wife.
"Ahhh!" I screamed, and walked into the living room with a paper towel wrapped around my thumb.
"Wife," I said to her, "you're going to be upset at me."
She looked up at me from the couch. "Yossi! You burned yourself?"
Ha! "Nope!" I tell her with a smug smile, proud that I didn't meet such a low expectation. "I cut myself," I explained.

After drying my tears and regaining my cooking composure, I walked back into the kitchen. I didn't want to get a drip of blood on her bagel, so it was awkward finding a way to hold the bagel and slice it. For an instant, I considered sticking my finger through the hole, and slicing carefully... but only for an instant.

The bagel was sliced, and I went to toast it.

"Ahhhhhhhh!" I cried with alarm.
Walking into the living room again, I told my wife, "Now you're really going to be upset at me!"
Looking at me with big eyes, she asks, "You cut yourself again!!!??"
Ha! "Nope!" I say, again with a smug smile. "I burnt myself!"

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

"I'm coming in!!"

I was reading a story in a Tzivos Hashem magazine.
In the middle of the story, five months after a certain woman left the beis din, an old man entered without warning.
Isn't it funny that the author wrote that the man entered without warning?
Do many people announce their arrival before entering rooms?
I've decided from now on to yell into a room, "I'm coming in!" before entering, to make sure they have a warning of my entrance, especially if it might be recorded in a book or magazine one day.

Monday, September 26, 2011


Does anyone have an orchard I could use for a photoshoot?
I have some Esrogim I'd like to sell retail, but of course everyone knows that I will only be a trusted Esrog dealer if I have some goofy pictures holding esrogim up and looking intently at the trees...

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


Marriage Tips for Men #1:

If you see a discussion is about to turn into a disagreement, STOP!
In a disagreement, she will always be right. If it's still a discussion, your opinion may still be on the table.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


In Empire Shtiebel mikveh earlier this week, I overheard two men talking.
Man 1: Hey, what brings you to this mikvah?
Man 2: I live on Sterling.
Man 1: Oh. Did you move?
Man 2: Yep. 15 years ago.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Are you nervous?

IY"H, I'm getting married in a week. People have been asking me throughout the summer: Are you nervous? Going crazy?
My answer is- Baruch Hashem, no. It can't come fast enough. Why should I be nervous? Yes, it's a big change in my life... but that change means a new life with my Kallah. That sounds great to me! When I proposed, it was because I wanted to marry her. Why should that change over time?
And why should I be going crazy? There may be lots of pratim to take care of, but looking at the bigger picture again: I'm getting married, IYH.

I know all my single audience members are reading this and thinking, "Great. We lost another one."
And my married readers are thinking, "Just give him a few months, and we'll see if his head is still in the clouds..."
My married readers are also thinking about the best time to invite the IYH soon-to-be new couple to their house for a Shabbos meal....

Monday, August 15, 2011

Being Manly

Yisroel Shemtov told me once, when he was fitting me for a kapota, that I was a m'chayeh to work with.
"You are built like a man!" he cried out in his crackly voice.

15th of Av

A friend of mine was born on the 15th of Menachem Av.
When he was a toddler, his family went to the Rebbe, and his brother told the Rebbe that his brother's birthday was coming up, on 'Tu B'Av'.
The Rebbe answered, "By Chassidim, we say: Chamisha Asar B'Av."

Sunday, August 7, 2011

We saved his life!

The Shliach to Ecuador, Rabbi Tomer Rotem, heard that last week the staff had all of our talmidim saying tehillim, and adding in Torah, Tefillah, and Gimulas Chassadim for his Yeshua. He sent a message to our Head Counselor, to let YSP know that we saved his life through our tehillim...

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Baruch Hashem!

The shliach has be released! Thank you to all those who said tehillim.
This is great great news!!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Sunday, July 24, 2011


A boy came to me while I was standing in line for food one day. He told me, "Rabbi **, from all the staff, you have the best manners!"

A boy couldn't walk without crutches, and needed help up the stairs. On Tuesday, the fast day, this boy was on the 1st floor, and needed to be carried up three flights, for Shacharis. Another boy helped me lug the boy up to Zal. Starting a fast day shlepping a 200-lb kid up flights of stairs is actually not fun.

At a Seuda, a boy who was sitting across from me suddenly disappeared from his seat. Later, I hear under my left ear, "Your whole body is getting very weak...." I turn, amused, to see that this boy had crawled under the table, and was kneeling beside me.
"Are you trying to hypnotize me?" I suppressed a laugh as he quickly shook his head, and scuttled back under the table, to his seat.

I was carrying a laundry bag, with intentions of laundering. A boy sees me, and knowing I'm a Chosson, jokes, "Yossi, are you practicing?" He was just trying to kid around, but I thought I'd push him a little, and make him realize that harassing a Chosson is definitely fun, but you have to make a joke that actually makes sense.
"Practicing for what? I've been doing my own laundry for the past 11 years."

Monday, July 11, 2011

Chosson Class

I am only posting this because I have a strong anonymity on this site. If Rabbis knew this came from me, I'd be in big trouble.
Here's part of the syllabus I was given, for my Chosson Classes:

1. The Chasuna
     1.1. - Invitations
          1.1.1. - Embossed vs. Gold Foil
          1.1.2. - Cream or Classic White; a look into marriage theory
     1.2. - The Tie
          1.2.1 - Pastels
          1.2.2. - White
          1.2.3. - Black; know the risks
          1.2.4. - The six shades of Silver
     1.3. - Dance Moves
          1.3.1. - The Kapota Swish
          1.3.2. - The Advanced Kapota Swish
          1.3.3. - "Change in altitude changes attitude"; how to stay on top of that moving table
. . .
2. Married Life
     2.1. - Housework
          2.1.1. - Getting out of chores
     2.2. - Laundry
          2.2.1 - Clean/Dirty
          2.2.2. - Dryer sheets and fabric softeners: definitions and uses
. . .
     2.9. - Communication
          2.9.1. - Pretending to listen

Tuesday, June 28, 2011


Who else is ready for the best summer ever?

Monday, June 27, 2011

best and worst

The best weekend ever, followed by the hardest flight I've had to be on....
Going to Morristown soon, IYH. I wish myself and everyone else hatzlacha and gezunt this summer.
And may it pass k'heref ayin!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Mazal Tov!

A loving mazal tov to my sister Mindy for becoming a Kallah last night!
Baruch Hashem, K"AH, the simchos keep on rolling for my family!
We should all continue to hear only great news!!

And ladies: A Brother in Lubavitch is the last single person in my family, so you might want to chap arayn!

What's that? You want to know when her birthday was? Two days ago Friday, of course!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

A sister in Lubavitch

Mazal Tov to my dear sister, for becoming a Kallah!

You know, some of my friends chuckle when they hear what a big deal my family makes out of birthdays. We even like to talk about half-birthdays (when you turn 16 and a half, for example).
But now you know. Now you know!

My l'chaim was on my birthday, and my sister first started dating her Chosson on her birthday!

So mazal tov Chosson and Kallah, you should build a Binyan Adei Ad, a chassidishe home, with all the Rebbe's brochos!

Back-to-back weddings, what a bracha!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Bochur in Lubavitch

I am a Chosson, but I'm still a bochur, and I still have a bochur'she way of thinking.
My kallah told me she wants to get two sheitels.
"So, would you get two of the same one?" I asked seriously.
"No...not at all."

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Gut YomTov!

I want to take this opportunity (and I really have many of them, since I can post whatever I want, and whenever) to wish my Kallah a wonderful YomTov!

Now for everyone else:
You, too, should have a good YomTov, and be Mekabel the Torah B'Simcha U'Bpnimius!

Baruch Hashem, I've never been happier. I want to give a bracha to whoever wants to be engaged, and whoever is engaged, that they should feel like I do, and everything should be B'Sha'ah Toiva U'Mutzlachas!

*If you're married, I still wish you only simcha.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


Last Thursday, friends of mine saw me in 770, saying Tehillim.
"Yossi, you only say Tehillim the day of your Chasuna, not the day of your L'chaim!"
"But today's my birthday, and I say the whole Tehillim..."

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Not a mazal tov!

In R' Yisroel Shemtov's little Kapota shop today (B"H, I now have a reason to enter), one of the men waiting for a Kapota introduced himself to me as Pink, from England.
"Hey, don't you have a mazal tov!?" I asked.
"I don't think so. My nephew was born about a month ago, my son's Bar Mitzvah is in two months..."
"Hmmm," I hmmmmed, "I thought I saw your name online today."
"Maybe that was my brother. His home was attacked. Terrorism. Al-qeida..."
"Oh, sorry to hear. Yes, maybe that is what I had seen online, I didn't read the article. Not a mazal tov..."

From the plate to the ring

A chosson and kallah limit their communication and visitation (is that term only used for prisons?) before their chasuna. The Rebbe told many people that, "If you are close when you should be far, than ch"v you may be far when you should be close."
But why is it that you should be far, and distant?
It's definitely something very hard for the new couple. They agreed to get married, after only meeting for a few weeks. The natural tendency is to want to learn everything they can about each other, and grow in their relationship, before becoming lifelong partners.
Perhaps a precedent for this idea, and something which has helped me understand this situation, is the first mass-wedding in Jewish history (yay for Historia!), which first occurred 3,323 years ago, and in a week and a half will occur again, G-d willing, on Shavuous.
When the Yidden left Egypt, they reached Har Sinai and received the Torah. Throughout the spectrum of Jewish commentaries, this moment is described as the Chasuna between Hashem and the Jewish People. The Medrash says that Hashem lifted Har Sinai above the heads of the Yidden. This was like the Chuppa that the Chosson and Kallah stand under.

If Matan Torah was the Yidden's wedding to the Aibeshter, I think Yetzias Metzrayim was a lot like the dating process.

Hashem came in and did lots of fancy, spectacular miracles.
The Jews were very impressed, and agreed to follow their G-d into a desert and become His Chosen People.

A bochur on a date also tries to impress and charm the young lady he is with, by holding doors open, and pretending to be interested in what she has to say.

Then they agree to get married!

But they barely know each other, and soon they will be intimately joined through the union of marriage.

How did the Jews prepare to be united with Hashem?
They didn't try to learn as much as they could about The Big Guy, and only received a few mitzvos to try out in the meantime.
What the Jews occupied themselves with was Sefiras HaOmer.
Instead of learning about Hashem, they chose to learn about themselves. They examined who they were, and worked on themselves in each of their Middos.
This way, when the Sixth of Sivan came around, they could bring the best of themselves they had to offer.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


Tomorrow night is my birthday, IY"H.
Who is excited?
Turning 23...

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Peach Talks

How could there possibly be any disagreement? (This was on I wrote a comment on this, which wasn't published, but the story was changed.)

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Night Tzitzis

The mitzvah of wearing Tzitzis is only during the daytime, not at night.
It is our custom, however, to wear tzitzis at night, as well, although we are Patur at that time.
There is a tshuva from the Tzemach Tzedek, as told to me by a trusted source (I haven't seen it inside), that discusses Night Tzitzis.
If you were to wear Night Tzitzis, you would not be gaining anything. You are not doing a mitzvah that you are Patur from. The mitzvah of tzitzis is only during the day, therefore to be considered doing the mitzvah at night, although not required to, you must wear Day Tzitzis at night.
People who have two pairs of tzitzis, and wear one during the day, and switch to a different pair at night are not performing our custom correctly. Since their tzitzis at night is designated for the night, they are not chayiv in tzitzis.

Making sense so far?

Most people own more than one pair of tzitzis. The reasoning behind not wearing the same pair night and day, is that when you wake up, you are already wearing tzitzis. We only make the bracha when we put on tzitzis, not when we are already wearing them. So if you have a second pair of tzitzis, it is easier to remove the tzitzis you wore at night, and don your second pair.


It is more preferable (according to this tshuva) to wear one pair of tzitzis, and in the morning to remove them, and put them on again, in order to make the bracha, than to have a second pair which you wear only at night, which allows you to very easily put on new tzitzis for the bracha.

The only way to have two pairs of tzitzis, would be if you wear both pairs in the days and nights (not at the same time, silly), so instead of a Day Tzitzis and Night Tzitzis, both pairs are Day Tzitzis, and then you can wear either pair at night, and be doing the mitzvah that we are Patur from.

Make sense?

Once I'm discussing tzitzis, here are a few other halachos:
- M'doriasa, a Beged is only chayiv in tzitzis if it is wool or linen.
-If a Beged has more than four corners, we still only hang tzitzis on four of the corners. Which corners do we choose? The four corner-ier ones, i.e. the ones most distant from each other.

**A friend of mine suggested that perhaps since most bochurim wake up past daybreak, they are indeed wearing their 'Night Tzitzis' during the day, so there is no problem...

Friday, April 29, 2011

Meeting me

In Colorado before Pesach, I traveled around to contacts of the Shliach, delivering matzah and such.
One man I visited was in his nineties.
"And what's your name?" he asked.
"No, Yossi!" I said, louder.
"Yaffee?" he asked, "How do you spell that?"
I sighed, and allowed him, "Any way you want."

At a doctor's office here at home, an assistant met me first in the room, before the doctor.
"Hi, we've met when you were here before," she told me.
"Oh. When was the last time I was here?"
"Let's see... last April. So it's been a year."
"I'm sorry, but I don't remember meeting you," I told her.
"Well, I didn't see you then," she said, flipping through her notes, "but I did see you in 2007 when you were here."
That was four years ago!
"Wow. I only have a few doctors that I should remember meeting, and you've got many patients," I said, embarrassed I had no recollection of talking to this PA.
"Yeah, we get about 30 patients a day."

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Light as a feather, not stiff like a board

I went indoor skydiving on Chol Hamoed.
You can check out their website here.
You don't do any diving necessarily. It's like a tall, vertical wind tunnel.
It was exhilarating. The tunnel is perhaps thirty feet high, and they can program the different speeds of wind. The higher the speed, the more pressure, and the faster and higher you fly up, if you are positioned correctly.
The pictures of me are pretty silly looking. My beard is flying up over my mouth, parting to make way for my nose.

Thursday, April 21, 2011


On Pesach, a Rabbi sat down on a shaded bench, to have his lunch.
As he was eating his matzah, he got into a conversation with the man sitting on the other side of the bench.
The man was blind, as evident by his seeing-eye dog, and was Jewish, as he admitted to the Rabbi.
Cheered to meet another Jew on Pesach, the Rabbi offered some of his matzah to the man.
After a minute of feeling the matzah, the blind man asked, bewildered, "Who wrote this nonsense?!!"

Friday, April 15, 2011

Hot on the trail

I'm with my friend Leibel on Merkos Shlichus in Colorado.
The way the shliach's kids remember our names, is from the Yossi and Leibel book series.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Merkos Shlichus, 700th post

I thought a nice way to celebrate my 700th post would be to post this picture of some of the bochurim going on Merkos Shlichus this Pesach. I'm in the picture, good luck finding me!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Meeting my student

Last night I met one of my students, for the first time.
His family came to Crown Heights for a l'chaim.
The boy, we'll  call him Mendy, introduced me to his father.
"Ah! I recognized you right away!" he says to me.
"It's nice to meet you, Rabbi X."
"I see you all the time on the computer," he tells me.
"Well, at least one of you is watching class," I laughed, with his son standing next to us.
"Yeah, I'm in class more than he is," Rabbi X. tells me.
"It's like: Mendy, come quick, I think he's asking you a question! What do I do?" I joked.
"That's exactly what happens!"

Lesson from the Leper

We call our Parsha this week: Metzora, while earlier authorities, like Rashi and the Rambam, called it: Zos T'ihyeh.
  1. How can we call a Parsha with such a dirty word like Metzorah?
  2. And it used to have such a nice name! Why in the world would we change it, and to a name like Metzorah!??
To explain this, we of course must first understand something else.

The Posuk says that the Metzorah is brought to the Kohen ("V'huva El HaKohen").
Ummmmm. No he isn't! The Metzorah cannot come to the Kohen!! He has to stay outside the camps. The posuk even says later, clearly, that the Kohen leaves to go visit him!???
And why does it say he is brought? Shouldn't it say: he comes to the Kohen?

The Rebbe brings a Sforno and others who offer an answer to this perplexing posuk, but the Rebbe also proves how the answer brought by these meforshim is insufficient.

This question therefore has no good answer in Nigleh. The Rebbe continues in the sicha to offer an answer, according to Chassidus. This is one of the unique times the Rebbe shows us that only with Chassidus can we understand Torah.

The Metzorah is on a very low level.
The Alter Rebbe paskens in Shulchan Aruch, that every Yid, no matter who, will eventually do Tshuva.

Therefore, Hashem is saying (through the posuk) that this Metzorah will be brought (even against his will) to the Kohen. He will do Tshuva. Whether he likes it or not. This is a promise from G-d!

And when he does do Tshuva, it will affect him that even on his own low level, he will have a desire to return to Hashem. The Kohen comes to him, on his level, for the purification process from his leprosy, i.e. doing Tshuva.

His true Tshuva, and converting his own personal darkness into light, will be evident and complete only in Moshiach's times, when G-d's Essence will be known. Only in the presence of G-d's Essence can darkness and light be equal; "the darkness will shine like day."

In the earlier generations, that were farther from the times of Moshiach, they knew that one day the Metzorah could do Tshuva, and be a part of the holy Torah. But not then. They called the parsha: Zos T'hiyeh, which shows in the future, 'this will be the Torah of the Metzorah' (the words of the posuk).
But now, in the last generation before Moshiach, we are so close that we have some of the revelations already of G-d and G-dliness, we can make the Metzorah be a part of Torah!

Monday, April 4, 2011

The Pickle Story

When I was in Texas for Purim, the shliach's three-year-old son came over to me when he saw me, and asked if I was going to finish The Pickle Story.
I was surprised he even remembered. On Chanukah when I was there, I had started to tell him and his sister The Pickle Story, but they weren't listening and were fighting with each other instead, so I stopped. I hadn't even gotten past the title, when I stopped the story.
But apparently this little boy had remembered, and was very determined to hear the story. His mother and father both told me that I had better tell the story this time I was in town.
The little boy even called me at 9 in the evening after the Ta'anis had ended, to hear the story before he went to sleep.
I promised him I would say the story on Shabbos.
And I did. His parents made sure before the end of Shabbos to ask me if I had indeed finished the story. They wouldn't be able to handle their son's disappointment and frustration for the next five months if I hadn't.

Another time I told The Pickle Story was when I substituted for a Pre-1A class in ULY. I came at 2 o'clock, and the principal led me into the classroom. He looked for material the teacher should have provided for me, but alas. There was none.
The principal looked at me guiltily, and said, "Maybe you have a story you can say?"
I asked the class if they daven.
"We don't daven! We're only in pre-1A!" one boy told me.
I then told the class The Pickle Story for the next 2 hours, and then dismissed them at 4. The boys were all silent and listening for the whole two hours. I was impressed with their (and my) stamina.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Kvaterin and Shushvina

In a great sicha in Chelek Chof Beis on our Parsha (Tazria), the Rebbe beautifully explains the meaning behind the Kvater/Kvaterin at the Bris, and the Shushvinin at the Chupah.
The escorts we have as a Chosson and Kallah have their source in Moshe and Aharon, who were the 'Shushvinin' at our 'marriage' with the Aibeshter at Matan Torah.

To help understand the reasons behind different details of these traditions (namely, why a pregnant woman does not participate), the Rebbe also gives insight into Kaparos, by answering the question: Why does a pregnant woman need to shlug chickens for her unborn baby? What aveiros has he/she done that his/her mother needs to bring a Kapara for?

Learn the sicha to find out the answer, and understand the mysticism of the Shushvinin at our Chupa, and Kvater/Kvaterin at the Bris, and why we should have more simcha at a Bris than at a Chasuna.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

....if you like Raise Your Hand!!

In Texas, we spent the Shabbos before Purim with the shliach who brought us down, and his family.
They've got some great kids, including an adorable three-year-old-boy who absolutely adored me (no surprise there).
Early Friday night, I started playing Raise Your Hand. Whether they had heard of the game before or not, they immediately participated with an enthusiasm and vigor that had me nostalgic for my old kindergarten days.
"Raise your hand if you like..... chocolate!"
"Raise your hand if you like.....Shabbos!"

In the game, you take turns, letting each person tell the others whether or not to raise their hand.
"Raise your hand if you like.....Moshiach!"

Then we got kind of silly.
"Raise your hand if you like....plates!"

Nothing was safe if we could think of its name.
"Raise your hand if you like....airplanes!"
"Raise your hand if you like....ducks!"

One (who obviously has never played) may mistakenly assume this game gets pointless, boring, and drives you crazy.
We played this the entire Shabbos. It never truly got old, and three-year-olds are especially fond of it.

On Shabbos afternoon, I walked upstairs from the shul, to go to the kitchen for a cup of soda.
As I passed the shlucha reading on the couch, I hear, "Raise your hand if you like cups!" and I chuckled as I saw that my hand had automatically shot up.

Break out the twizzlers and soda

Today we made a siyum on the entire Rambam, Yad Hachazaka.
Mazal tov, mazal tov.
Everyone should take this time to renew their strength for this next machzor we are starting.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

His greatest Ma'aleh

I just got off the phone with a woman calling about a friend of mine.
Towards the end of our conversation:
"What's his biggest Ma'aleh?" she asked me.
"His smile!" I told her.
"Awwww. That's really sweet!"
"Thank you."
"Did you really mean that, as his biggest ma'aleh?"
"Why not? It's definitely true. Is it his biggest? He has lots of ma'alois. Maybe he considers his chassidishkeit his biggest ma'aleh. Someone else might say his head for learning is his biggest ma'aleh. I can say his smile."
"Wow. You're a great friend."
"So is he!" I countered.
"He, he. Yes, I see. Thank you very much, and you should have a bracha for anything you need..."

*Note: not all shidduch conversations go like this. Sometimes I get a question that is so foolish, it's hard to stay sweet and mushy.

Don't drink the water

Earlier in the year, the city was doing construction on Kingston Ave, and different blocks had their water turned off at different intervals throughout the weeks.
When it was 1414's turn, I went downstairs for lunch, and sat down ready to eat.
As I looked down at my bowl of soup, I addressed the table with the following question, "If the water in the building was turned off, where did this soup come from?"
Heads lifted and faced me. Spoons were stopped midway to their intended mouths. Many eyes were now suspiciously examining the soup held in their bowls and spoons.
One boy suggested, "Maybe they filled up buckets of water before the water was turned off..."
Aftter a minute, one eltereh bochur volunteered, "Better not to think about it, and just eat."

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

That type of guy

A woman was speaking to me about a friend of mine.
She was using me as a reference for shidduchim purposes.
"Does he have any other hobbies or interests?" she asked me.
Hmmm, I thought (and hmmm'ed). "I think he may play the flute," I offered.
"Really? I hadn't heard that about him."
"Oh, then maybe not.... But he's the type of guy who could, even if he doesn't actually play. Like, I wouldn't be surprised if he played flute..." I tried explaining, while smacking myself on the forehead.
I called up my friend, and asked about the flute.
"No, I don't play flute, Yossi. I wonder who told her that..."
"Yeah, that was me, buddy. Sorry."

Monday, March 21, 2011

Get out of jail free

Yesterday morning, we drove two hours from Houston, to visit Beaumont, Texas, which hosts a huge federal prison complex.
We visited Jewish inmates in the Low and Medium Security facilities.
The prisoners really appreciated our visit, and the chance to hear the megillah.
After I leined for them, and we spoke about Purim, and Yiddishkeit, and stuff, it was time to leave.
"So how do I get outta here?" I asked them.
"Well, you leave through this door, and stop in the office over there..." the inmates pointed.
"Is there a tunnel I can use?" I asked.
Immediately,everyone was rolling with laughter.
"The opening to the tunnel is behind this bookcase!..."
"Don't tell the guards!"
I hope we helped to raise their spirits on the festive day of Purim!

Thursday, March 17, 2011


Last night I flew with a friend to Houston, Texas, to help the shluchim here, and to lein megillah for Jewish inmates.
Our flight was scheduled to arrive at 11:30 PM local time, so we had reservations at the rental company for midnight.
There must have been some helpful headwinds, because we arrived an hour early!!
To our dismay, Avis had very uncooperative employees. They refused to let us take our car an hour early, even though we were willing to pay for the additional hour. The reservation was for 12 AM, they told us, and there was nothing we could do. Even more, they made it sound like it was illegal for us to even cancel our reservation and make a new one, starting at the time we wanted to rent the car. We were not allowed to cancel our reservation! Why not??!! We demanded to know. If we just walk away and don't rent a car, you don't have a credit card on file, how can you stop us?
Anyway, they made us sit there for an hour, waiting.
We quietly joked that if we walked up to the counter at 12:01, we'd be told, "Oh. You're late. Your reservation says 12:00. You'll have to pay an additional...."
But B"H, here I am, in Houston, on the Rebbe's Shlichus, blogging about the awful customer service that Avis showed us.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


I'm not the best night sleeper.
During the day, or in the morning, I can sleep for as long as I want, but at night I can have trouble falling asleep, even if I'm exhausted.
So I bought something called Melatonin, which IS NOT a drug. It's an herbal supplement (sounds better, right?) that regulates your sleep patterns.
The problem: I didn't want to start taking it in New York, because I spent last week in California. Midnight on Eastern Time is only 9 o'clock on the West Coast, and that's too early to be falling asleep.
I didn't want to start taking it last night, because today IY"H I'm flying to Houston, Texas, for Purim. Texas is an hour behind us. I doubt I'll start taking it in Houston at night, because Monday I fly back to New York.
But I'm only in New York for a week and half before flying to Denver for a weekend. I don't mind going to sleep early while I'm there, but if the Bar Mitzvah Party goes late, they'll have to drag my sleeping body out of the hall, and I hate to inconvenience anyone.
So I could start taking my Melatonin after I come back from Denver, but I'm flying back there the next week for Pesach Merkos Shlichus.
And I know what you're thinking: If I'll be in Denver for a week helping with the Sedarim, than that's when I should start trying to regulate my sleep. But, in the middle of Pesach I'm IYH flying home to California, where I'll have the same problem I started off with at the beginning of my problem: it will be really early in Pacific Time that I'll be falling asleep.

Which means I may only be able to start sleeping well in over a month from now!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Friday, March 4, 2011


Be strong, and be strengthened!
We're heading into Adar Beis, and we all know what Simcha leads to...
Pritzus HaGedarim!
We should break through all boundaries, and perceived boundaries. Often, obstacles are only obstacles when we perceive them as such.
Have a great Shabbos, and a great month- with lots of simcha!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011


In the mikveh a while ago, a few mesivta bochurim were speaking about their plans for the future.
One boy mentioned how he wanted to go on shlichus as soon as he could, learn smicha, and then go to college.
Another boy remarked, "College!? What are you going to learn: 2 + 2?"

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Lamed Tes Melachos

You know these books?

(Image from

I'm not sure they were meant to be read... as a book. More of a reference guide you can check in.
I need to create some model lessons, based on Mishnayos Shabbos, and reading through these melachos one after the other needs to be done while sitting at a table in 770, not lounging in bed!
I've gotten through the first two melachos, but I've got a lot more.

Sunday, February 20, 2011


One small step in a Hasidic community in Brooklyn is making for one giant leap in podiatrists' office visits statewide.

Crown Heights, Brooklyn- On the busy Eastern Parkway thoroughfare, near the Brooklyn Children's Museum and the we've-got-a-really-huge-plastic-challah Jewish Children's Museum, is the World Lubavitch Headquarters. Known warmly as just "770" by its parishioners, the synagogue and office complex is the bustling hub and boiler room for the international Chabad movement.

"Although large in size, the synagogue is always overfilled to capacity and beyond, with crowds as sometimes as large as in the thousands," one member and spokesman of the CHJCC told us.

The synagogue has no cushioned pews or leather seats. Rather, hard wooden benches stretch from wall to wall. And these benches are used for more than just sitting: "Some people sleep on them!" one teenage boy with a scruffy beard told us enthusiastically. He explained why there needs to be something so hard and uncomfortable to sit on: "When you're in shul (editor: synagogue), you have to know that you're praying to G-d! You're not worried about your own essence. The best way for the G-dliness to permeate yourself is to not have your own existence in the way. It's all about Bitul (editor: a process of self-nullification, and state of submissiveness sought by those wishing to adhere to G-d (as explained by"

Coming off the bench

When worshipers desire to leave their seat, problems arise.
Because of the size of the crowd, and the lack of exit rows, the only way most can leave their seat is by stepping up onto the top of the bench, and jumping down near the bookcases. Yes, walking on top of the bench!

Leap of faith

With benches averaging at 40.2 inches high, this hop down and landing causes tremendous stress on the ankle. Dr. Rudolph Turgosdapolis described the trauma, using the following diagram:

(Image taken from

The stress from the landing causes duress in the lateral malleolus area of the ankle, near the peronial muscles and tendons.


At the recent PCP annual conference (Podiatrists for Chasidic Patients), this new pain condition was given significant focus and attention. Representatives from the patient group of survivors came forward to give testimony to the hardships they faced, living with either S.A.S.S. or S.A.S.S.! - the street names for this medical malady (Severe Ankle Stress Syndrome is how doctors in Flatbush who see patients from 770 commonly call it, while citizens of Crown Heights call it Syndrome Ankle Seven Seventy!)

Future looks exceptionally bright

We sat down with the Gabboys, or temple menservants, of the synagogue. Although these Rabbis said they had no intentions of changing the seating conditions, they delighted in telling us that this problem, however unfortunate, would be resolved quickly:
"The Messiah is coming today, and all the sick will be healed, and there will be world peace!"


Saturday, February 19, 2011

Levels of descriptive madness

One of my courses from the Teacher Training Program was a two lesson course on psychology, with a focus in child psychology. They were entitled Origins of Emotion, and Irrational Beliefs, by Rabbi Meir Mark. Thinking about emotion, I was thinking about how we describe the way we deal with our anger, and here's a little list I came up with:

  1. Suppressed rage
  2. Controlled fury
  3. Bottled anger
  4. Contained irritation
  5. Withheld annoyance
I may have come up with some of my own...

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Shikur Dialing

Bochurim know what I'm talking about: you come back from a farbrengen shikur, and start dialing your friends. Normally, the only person listening to you at 2 in the morning is Mr. Answering Machine.
Last night, while trying to sleep, I heard from the hallway a bochur farbrenging into somebody's answering machine. When you don't want to wake up your roommates, you of course walk down the hall to stand outside someone else's room.
Well when I'm the someone else, I don't like it.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Thumbs up!

The .gif in my smicha announcement of everyone clapping was to show your reaction.
Here's what I was feeling:

Two jokes

1. There's so much snow here in Chicago, there's nothing to do. My wife has been staring at the window for hours. I guess it's time to let her in.
2. "We came to you because my wife and I are arguing and cannot decide where to go for vacation!"      
"Well where do you want to go?"
"To Florida!"
"And where does your wife want to go?"
"With me to Florida!"

Monday, February 7, 2011

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Not yet ordained

For those keeping track at home, today was the third time my Smicha test was pushed off due to lack of interest by my Masmich.
It's now set for this Monday.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

A Forest of Hope

Here's a copy/pasted dvar Torah I wrote last year:
The parsha of Truma speaks in detail about the start of the mishkan's construction, and all the materials needed to be donated. A large supply of wood was needed, to build the beams and structure. Where did the Yidden get all this wood from, in the middle of a barren desert?
Rashi answers this by bringing Rabbi Tanchuma's explanation. Yaakov Avinu anticipated with Ruach Hakodesh the Jews' need for wood when building the mishkan. He therefore brought cedar trees with him, planted them in Egypt, and instructed his children to take these trees with them when they would leave the country.
Why couldn't Rashi simply explain that the source for the wood in the desert was from a forest which grew near Mt. Sinai, as other commentaries explain? Or the Jews could have purchased lumber from merchants along the way.
In a sicha in chelek Lamed Aleph, the Rebbe explains why Rashi was forced to explain it specifically in this manner, according to R' Tanchuma.
Now we must understand: Why takkeh did Yaakov do this? Over 200 years before they would need the wood, he made sure to bring trees with him and plant them in Egypt, and then get his children to agree to shlepp them out with them? It was hard enough for the Jews to walk with the matzahs drying on their backs, now they had to carry out huge trees??!! Did Yaakov really think he was doing his descendants a favor? Imagine having to shlep out tons of trees. "Oh, gee, Yaakov. Thanks a lot for your help...." Who is so obsessive and OCD over the planning of the minor details of a trip that wouldn't take place for another 200 years?!

In a simply beautiful pirush, the Rebbe explains exactly what Yaakov intended.

Do you think Yaakov was really that concerned for where they'd get wood to build the mishkan? There were too few mass-polluting humans on the planet to be worried about a tree shortage. What Yaakov was doing was planting for them a Forest of Hope.

Sure the Jews knew that eventually they would be redeemed from the miserable slavery and exile they were in; Hashem had promised their ancestors, hadn't He? But what would keep them going through thick and thin? How and from where would they draw the necessary strength to overcome the smothering darkness surrounding them?
When Yaakov planted these trees, and told his children to take them out with when they would be redeemed, he was associating these trees with the redemption. Especially since these trees were not originally grown in Egypt. Yaakov brought them from the land of Israel. These would be a source of hope and comfort. (Remember the name of the person Rashi quoted for this explanation? R' Tanchuma, which comes from the word meaning comfort!!)
Every time the Jews walked past this huge forest, they saw these trees as symbols of their royal heritage and noble destiny.

The Rebbe goes on to explain that tzadikkim are sometimes described as cedar trees: 'tzaddik ktamar yifrach, kerez balvanon yisgeh...". Yaakov planting these 'cedar trees' represents planting tzaddikim in every generation. Not just tzaddikim, but n'si'im: leaders of the generation, Rabbeim. The word Nasi stands for Nitzutoi Shel Yaakov Avinu. 
Yaakov 'planted' these Rabbeim in every generation to carry out the same purpose as his original cedar trees in Egypt. These leaders give hope and comfort to the Jews who are suffering in exile.

The Rebbe finishes by saying that in this bitter, supremely dark and exhaustively long exile, the only true comfort for us is the coming of the Moshiach, may he come speedily in our days, and we will build the Third Beis HaMikdash!

Have a great shabbos!

You can see the actual post with some comments about it, here.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

There goes the neighborhood

I think that this weekend can be epitomized by the exclamation I heard this evening, as I was walking on Kingston. In fact, I think everyone on the block heard as well:
"Rivki, I loooove your bangs!!!!!!"

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


I have a date for my Smicha test.
I thought I'd take her to dinner afterward.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Let freedom ring

Did I ever tell you about the criminal I once saw, handcuffed to his hospital bed?
Two of New York's finest were there to prevent incident, but they did not stop him from warbling a very melodious song about how he wanted to be free, so he could jump in a river.
Other lyrics I heard were: "It wasn't my fault... well, maybe it was..."

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Censorship and Terrorism

"When people take it upon themselves to be "The Real Shliach" and bring destruction into the world in the name of Lubavitch, may we be protected from such things..."

Quote from this post on this blog, about him. If it's your first time visiting "The Real Bochur" blog, it was a secret blog, authored jointly by TRS and myself.

Good memories..

"Finally, and perhaps the most important lesson you can learn from Esther, is that she did whatever Mordechai (an upstanding member of the Anshei Kneses Hagdolah) told her to do."

That's another quote.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Yud Shvat- the Rebbe's Kabalas HaNiseus

Want proof that the Rebbe is greater than any of the Rebbeim before him?

Look at us- the Chassidim who he had to work with.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Dress Up

Yesterday I substituted for a fourth grade class.
During the breaks, some students dressed up like Agent Emes and compared their costumes, on their webcams, for the other boys.
They also were sharing different websites from which to buy the sunglasses, jacket, fake mustache... 
It was so cute!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Emergency Routines

With a possible large snowstorm descending upon us, I thought about what people used to do in times like these: collect lots of bottled water and batteries.
But what do we need batteries for nowadays? The only thing in my house I can think of is the smoke detector.
But that doesn't really count. At least for bochurim, we normally take the batteries out, so it doesn't beep.

Monday, January 10, 2011


When I was in Yeshiva in Pittsburgh, we sometimes were given breaks for a few hours, when there was a chasuna. None of the hanahala members wanted to miss a chasuna and stay in yeshiva, so they'd tell us, "We're giving you a few hours off... Don't do anything against the rules," or something like that.
If you've ever been to Pittsburgh, you'll know that there's not much to do, especially if you've been on the Incline already.
One time some guys and I headed down to the Waterfront, which is a shopping area.
So there I was, minding my own business, and was following some guys into a Hollister store, possibly looking like this one:

There was a guy standing in front, with a clipboard, letting everyone walk by him and enter the store. He finally stopped me, and said, "Hey, are you looking for a job this summer? We're hiring."
I was planning to go to a Yeshivas Kayitz, so I told him I wasn't interested.

This story may seem trivial to you, but to my 15-year-old self, this made my week (and possibly much more, if I remember it still to this day). You see, Hollister is known to only employ really good looking staff. I could give you links to some google image pages, but guys in swimming trunks with washboard abs aren't the type of thing I link to.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

You are what you eat from

Hundreds of bochurim receive this inspirational message from their plate, during many meals in 1414:

Shabbos Before Yud Shvat

As Chassidim know, we get called to the Torah on the Shabbos before Yud Shvat, the Freidiker Rebbe's Histalkus. (Yud Shvat is also the Kabalas HaNesius of our Rebbe, but the Aliya is for the Yahrtzeit.)
This year, Yud Shvat is on Shabbos, so there is some confusion among those in the Lubavitch circles, as to when to be called to the Torah.
I consulted a holy Rabbi, who told me that he is planning to get an Aliyah just next Shabbos, on Yud Shvat itself.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Shluchim Office

The reason the Shluchim Office has benches in front of it is so you can identify it as 'the one with the benches in front of it'.
-A friend


I recently found Savings Bonds that were given to me as gifts for my birth, and at my Bar Mitzvah.
These are Series EE U.S. bonds that mature in 30 years. I'd like to thank everyone who looked at me when I was 13, and decided, "I better make sure that kid has $50 when he's 40, he will probably need it then."

**Update: I checked out the Treasury Dept.'s website. They have a calculator for bonds. In 1988, someone paid $25 for this $50 bond, which is currently valued at $77, even though it has 7.5 more years until its maturation date! I don't fully understand how these bonds work, it seems.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Shomer Negiah

Last year on Pesach, I was sitting at a meal across from two ladies. One was frum, and she was explaining to her neighbor how her extended family met her with antagonism and disapproval about how she wouldn't touch men.
The lady told her neighbor about how she tried to explain why she would not shake a man's hand, and yet her family still derided her habits. She tried offering explanations about modesty, and other reasons that I do not recall, but nothing helped. Her family is still at odds with her and her religious lifestyle.
I leaned forward, and eased myself into their conversation, "You know, there was a lady who received a dollar from the Rebbe, and put out her hand, expecting the Rebbe to shake it. The Rebbe smiled, and said, 'My mother always taught me not to touch what isn't mine!'"
The lady across from me slouched back in her chair, staring at me, mouth agape. After a few moments, she sat up straight again, and told me, beaming, "Well that's just incredible! What an amazing answer to give someone. That is so simple, but includes so much meaning behind it! Thank you very very much!!" She was really overcome with wonder, and those of us sitting around couldn't help but smile, watching her exhilarated satisfaction.