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.