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?"