A Private Conversation - penned by R' Aharon Feldman, offers Hashkafic insights into the recent War in Eretz Yisroel. RAF explains why we can be pro-Israel yet anti the present Israeli government, simultaneously.
The New "Orthodoxy": Open to What? and The Reincarnation of the Conservative Movement, by RAF and R. Avrohom Gordimer respectively, dissect why the "Open Orthodoxy" of YCT is totally un-Orthodox.
May Orthodox Rabbis Permit Women to Don Tefillin?, by R. Meyer Twersky explains why ignoring the Rama's ruling on this issue is contrary to Halacha.
The Corporeality Which Never Was by R. Aharon Lopiansky casts doubts on whether R. M. Taku really believed in a corporeal deity.
Aquatic Perfection: The Fascinating World of Fish and Water, by R. Eytan Feiner is a fascinating essay on this rare topic. It is well documented with a wide array of footnotes.
Educating the Child Jewishly by R. Moshe Einstadter shares insights into Jewish Chinuch.
Where is the Passion? authored by R. Dovid Sapirman tackles a topic that many do not want to speak about, namely allowing youngsters to discuss questions of Hashkafa in an open forum.
Halachic Decision Making: The Factors Involved by R. Moshe Walter.
Moral Resistance in the Concentration Camps by David Adler (Posthumous).
Poor Review: Do Scientific Journals Have Sufficient Oversight? by Yoram Bogacz, is a delightful read that describes the poor process of peer review. [I love the title!]
My only complaints are that there was such a huge time gap in between issues and that there was only one letter to the editor printed in this edition.
Friday, December 26, 2014
Wednesday, December 24, 2014
Thursday, December 18, 2014
The site of the old Concord Hotel in Thompson, Sullivan County, (Borscht Belt Country) has been chosen to host a casino.
I am not sure how long it will last, but one day it will probably be owned by a Yeshiva. May that day come soon.
Monday, December 15, 2014
Sunday, December 7, 2014
The story of Yosef Mendelevitch is inspiring indeed. Yosef was one of the famous refuseniks, who took on the Russian Empire and won. In 1970, together with several others he conspired to hijack a Russian plane and fly to freedom. Unfortunately, the group was imprisoned and several were sentenced to death. In fact, news of the death sentence prompted Shlomo Carlebach to write the famous melody Motzi Asirim.
Yosef was freed in 1981 and came to build a beautiful family in Eretz Yisroel. This past week, he returned to Russia for the first time since his incarceration. This reminds me of another famous refusenik, Anatoly Scharansky, who also went on to build a successful political career in Eretz Yisroel after gaining his freedom. When hearing the famous Safam song, "Mother Russia", he commented dryly...Why is the empire referred to as Mother Russia? No mother should treat her children this way.
Sunday, November 30, 2014
Monday, November 10, 2014
RCA press release:
Nov 5, 2014 -- Please spread the word in your community
The Rabbinical Council of America and Tradition: A Journal of Orthodox Jewish Thought are pleased to announce that we have opened up our archives to the general public. All the back issues from 1958 through 2012 are now available at link.
We invite you to read the material there; share it with your congregants, students, and peers; and urge them to take advantage of this treasure house of thought, opinion, and ideas.
As a regular feature, we will bring important articles to your attention. This week, we highlight two significant articles...
Monday, November 3, 2014
This week marks the 20th Yahrtzeit of R' Shlomo Carlebach.
One of my first posts was to mark the 15th Yahrtzeit, and I noted that one needs to fill up with spiritual gas, at least once a year, perhaps by attending a Carlebach-style Kabbolos Shabbos.
One of the fascinating similarities I find between the Lubavitcher Rebbe and R' Shlomo, is that although they enjoyed a tremendous following during their lifetimes, they both have increased their popularity posthumously. Also, they both passed away 20 years ago, and they both have been subjects of several new biographies.
One of the jewels of Chaim's new book is the answer to Bray's question on my initial post on whom accompanies Shlomo in the following picture:
According to page 217 of the book, this photograph was taken in 1959 at the Kings Hotel in Yerushalayim.
Left to right: Yaakov Lerner, Shlomo, Chaim Adler, Yaakov Tzuker and Yosef Miletzky.
Photo courtesy of Yaakov Lerner.
UPDATE from Rabbi Dr Nathan Ophir, author of Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach: Life, Mission, and Legacy -
The photo is actually from August 1960 and not 1959. It was in 1959 that Adler who was a student in the Hevron Yeshiva, then located in Geulah, who first met Reb Shlomo and he organized this get together in the Kings Hotel the next summer.
Monday, October 27, 2014
I saw a beautiful Vort this past week in a sefer Shaarei Ahron. He quotes Rav Dessler, who said in the name of his father, regarding the 15th Mishna of the first Perek of Avos. Shammai says:
והוי מקבל את כל האדם בסבר פנים יפות
One should greet every individual cheerfully.
Yet we don't Pasken like Bais Shammai, so why is this said over in his name?
The answer is that if it were Hillel who said it, people would say that it is only a Midas Chassidus, being that Hillel was always so patient with everyone and always went לפנים משורת הדין.
ולבן שנים מחלב אל תיקרי לבן שינים אלא לבן שנים פשטיה דקרא במאי כתיב כי אתא רב דימי אמר אמרה כנסת ישראל לפני הקב"ה רבונו של עולם רמוז בעיניך דבסים מחמרא ואחוי לי שיניך דבסים מחלבא מסייע ליה לר' יוחנן דאמר ר' יוחנן טוב המלבין שינים לחבירו יותר ממשקהו חלב שנאמר ולבן שנים מחלב אל תקרי לבן שינים אלא לבון שינים
The Gemara in Kesuvos 111B says that "teeth are preferred over milk". In other words, if you meet a person, he would rather that you greet him with a warm smile than present him with a cold cup of milk.
I've often wondered how one would be able to be Mekayem Shammai's dictum. Perhaps in the shtetlach and small towns of yesteryear one would be able to greet all passersby; but in our day and age, particularly Manhattan's pedestrian traffic, this becomes an impossibility.
Yet if we follow Shammai's words, all is clear. We need to keep a perpetual smile on our faces when we are seen in public. Everyone who passes us by will then have a lift in their day.
Monday, October 20, 2014
I've written several times about bicycling in Brooklyn. So this is welcome news that we will hopefully be able to pedal the 46 mile loop one day. I suppose it will take as much time to complete this project and it will take for one to build up resistance for a 50 mile ride. Start training now!
Sunday, October 5, 2014
Being a Litvak, I nevertheless make an effort to attend the Mikvah twice yearly; Erev Rosh Hashanah and Erev Yom Kippur.
Lately I've been going to the second largest Mikvah in the world. The Atlantic Ocean.
The late September, early October coolness leaves the beaches free of Nekaivos, enabling me and the many other men who attend to enjoy a late season dip.
The waves are terrific, and if not for the shortage of time on these Erev Yom Tov days, I would enjoy a real swim.
Come join me next year, perhaps we can start a Jewish Polar Bear Club.
Sunday, September 7, 2014
Reb Shlomo Pearl and a few friends taught in public school as a profession, in order to give themselves ample time to study Torah.
Not only did R' Shlomo study, but he became a world-class Talmud Chachom, understanding and explaining the intricacies of Hilchos Shabbos.
Tuesday, August 26, 2014
It was very nice for CC Sabathia, Yankees star pitcher to come and visit Jewish children in Camp Simcha.
My only wish is that the "People of the Book" should treat their religious leaders with similar pomp, and should honor them with police escorts and chorused cheering.
Monday, August 11, 2014
Some of the most simple things in life come along with annoyances. For example, ever since I can remember, underwear came with sewn on tags that scratched and itched the wearer.
Bless the person who came up with the idea of having the info indelibly inked onto the garment itself.
Why didn't I think of that?
Monday, July 28, 2014
It was a real nice gesture on the part of former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg to show solidarity with his Israeli Brethren.
Even though he has his own jet, he traveled to Eretz Yisrael on the national carrier El Al, to show that the FAA ban on Israeli travel was out of place.
Sunday, July 6, 2014
Smartphones are making people dumber. People can no longer memorize telephone numbers. People are more afraid of leaving their cell phones at home than almost any other fear.
Of course there are some positive aspects of owning one of these devices. I recently saw someone staring intently into his phone as he fidgeted with his Tefilin Shel Rosh to set them in place.
I tried to be Dan Lekaf Zechus, having learned from my previous mistake, and luckily I was proven correct. He was not fiddling with his face-book, rather, he was taking a selfie to confirm that his Tefilin were positioned properly.
Monday, June 30, 2014
Those who live in the Big Apple and other large cities need to grapple with a shortage of parking places.
The problem is compounded several times a week when the City performs the alternate side street sweeping routine.
Years ago, the City alloted 3 hours for this task.
Some years ago, the city council voted to halve this time to 90 minutes.
Yet some sane senators in a recent AP article argue that double parking and idling of cars can be minimized if we allow cars to park immediately after the sanitation sweeper sweeps through.
They have my vote.
Sunday, June 29, 2014
One of the things I love about Brooklyn, is the ease of religious life.
Kosher pizza stores, bakeries, mega-supermarkets, Shuls, clothing stores, Seforim stores, Yeshivos abound on just about every block.
Some years ago an enterprising individual began circulating in all shuls the famous "times" set for Krias Shma.
Recently, stores have been sporting signs that announce the candle-lighting times for Shabbos and YomTov.
Years ago, they said it is 'Shver tzu zain a yid'.
Today, it couldn't be easier.
Monday, June 16, 2014
Taking a stroll through my local Seforim store, I noticed that there was not one, but three new biographies of the Lubavitcher Rebbe.
This is quite strange, considering that biographies are usually written soon after the passing of the individual.
I imagine that there being 3 biographies issued within a short time span, a score after the demise is unprecendented.
Perhaps this is because the subject lived a larger than life existence. Whether one agrees with his Hashkafa or not, he single-handedly revitalized a large segment of Judaism. He made one proud to be a Jew, encouraged one to practice Mitzvos openly, and encouraged followers to set up shop in the most far-flung places of the globe.
Or perhaps it is because he hasn't reappeared in over 2 decades that makes people realize he is not coming back.
Sunday, June 8, 2014
Sometimes, in our busy and hectic lives, we forget to appreciate the simple things - the beautiful imagery, scent and symmetry of nature.
This is the time of year when flowers are in full bloom.
Don't forget to stop and smell the roses.
Thursday, May 29, 2014
In a surprising move, Ford Motor Company has named a Jew as their new CEO, to take over operations of the car giant in July of this year.
This is especially delicious, considering that Old Mr. Ford was an outspoken anti-Semite.
Henry Ford was wrong on many accounts. He famously declared that customers can have his "Model T" in any color - as long as it is black.
While he may have been a genius in mass producing assembly lines - he was way behind the times in public relations.
I suppose he is turning over in his grave.
Monday, May 12, 2014
Unfortunately, now that the summer months are upon us, I have been relocated to other Shuls, as my own Shul Davens early to accommodate families with young children.
It is very disturbing to me, when I am on the cusp of welcoming the Shabbos bride, on the verge of some Spiritual Gas, and I am basking in the serenity of the onset of Shabbos, some table neighbors decide that they must do a "week in review" with their friends.
This talking bothers me, as I try to connect with the Almighty through the medium of congregational song, yet invariably some nincompoop ruins it.
Please allow me the Sounds of Silence!
Sunday, April 6, 2014
For the past 13 years, the New York Yankees have been aired on news radio WCBS 880. I never fully understood why a premier news organization felt it so important to spend many hours a week on ball games.
Another "All News" station, 1010 WINS, broadcast the Yankees games from 1944-57 and 1978-1980. Again, this is strange that with a World War raging, a news organization chose to broadcast baseball.
This season, the NYY's have moved to a sports channel, WFAN. I believe that is a positive step. Many people, who wouldn't set their dial to sports stations, get caught up with the Yankees since they turn on the radio to hear the news and stay for "an inning or two".
I wonder what caused this move. Maybe it is simply a business decision being that the Yankees aren't playing like world champions anymore.
In any event, this should minimize Battalah in the NY Metro Area.
WABC 1939-40, 1981–2001
WINS 1944-57, 1978–80
WMGM/WHN 1958-60, 1967–70
WCBS 1961-66, 2002–2013
WADO 2010–present (Spanish)
Monday, March 31, 2014
Blogging Buddy T.P.V. noted on his recent blog post how the Frum magazine and newspaper publishers needn't fear the electronic revolution, as the primary time for reading this material is on Shabbos.
It is certainly with great ingenuity that G-d created the world with Shabbos. In the not so distant future, physical books will be a thing of the past. Everything will be digital. But, as I've pointed out in the past, this will create a 1984-like existence, where governments and others will be able to rewrite history to favor whatever ideology they currently espouse.
Having physical print, will ensure that no one will tamper with our sacred texts. All will be black and white, for all to see.
This recalls to mind the famous dictum: More than the Jews keep Shabbos, Shabbos keeps the Jews.
Sunday, March 23, 2014
Children adore heroes. Many young people collect various cards that pique their interest. Baseball cards are a favorite, football cards, hockey cards, basketball cards etc.
Yet as our rebbeim used to admonish us - Who cares if someone can hit a ball 450 feet. Why does that make him a hero?
Heroes in my opinion are those who lay their lives on the line for others, who give up their sleep for others and who give up their time for others.
My suggestion would be to create cards of real community champions. Hatzoloh responders, Chaveirim, frum policemen and firemen. HASC and Chai-Lifeline volunteers. The people who join search committees to find missing people. The people who work with estranged youth.
I would like to see these STATS on the back of the cards. Saved 13 people using CPR. Pulled a family of seven out of a raging inferno. Jump-started 93 cars. Biked 170 miles for the kids of Camp Simcha.
These are the true heroes.
Wednesday, March 12, 2014
If you live in a frum neighborhood, you have probably been inundated with advertisements for the new animated movie titled Megillas Lester.
Megillas Lester is over an hour in length, and features a talented crew who re-create a parodied version of the Purim events. Whereas Mordechai HaTzadik and Queen Esther are the protaganists of the Megilla, here we find a boy who after messing up the sequence of events, must figure out how to save the Jewish People from the evil Haman.
While the director and film crew have certainly raised the bar for Jewish entertainment, mimicking Disney, I questioned whether children who see this film will come away with a distorted view of what really took place in Shushan.
Much effort was taken to depict Shushan as it actually was by using Rabbi Yehuda Landy's fascinating work on Ancient Persia. Much effort was taken to extract from the Megilla and the Medrash as many details as possible. Yet all this was perhaps for naught, as children will be unable to differentiate fact from fiction.
One website used a guesstimate that half a million dollars was budgeted to create this picture. There is much genius inherent in the film, many cute puns and much word-play which make watching it enjoyable for adults also. My favorite moment is when Zeresh calls all her children - in one breath.
Yet there have already been calls for a ban. As the film "denigrates and makes profane the holy". While I agree that this film warrants parental guidance, there still ought to be some license to create parodies, especially Purim time, as there has been a long tradition of "Purim Rav's" and "Purim Shpiels".
Consult your LOR.
Monday, March 10, 2014
Yesterday was the American Asifa because of the decision by the Israeli Government to conscript Yeshiva bochurim, under penalty of jail-time.
I understand that the Manhigim of Eretz Yisroel have asked their American counterparts to assist in any possible way to impede the Gezerah which will change their way of life.
I realize that Davening B'rov Am will certainly help any situation, and the Kiddush Hashem of rallying so many people on short notice who are orderly, is certainly a plus.
Yet on the down-side, this certainly creates ill-will among those who only see the Chareidim as shirking their responsibilities to society.
Good thing that this decision to amass is not mine.
Sunday, March 2, 2014
MALES. MAGNIFIED. MULTITUDE. MAJESTIC. MYRIADS. MAJORITY. MAMMOTH. MANPOWER. MANDATE. MANIFEST. MANIFOLD. MANY. MANKIND. MARVEL. MEDINA. MEGAPHONES. MEMORABLE. MESSAGE. MILD-MANNERED. MERE MORTALS. MOSAIC. MOTIVATE. MARAN. MACCABEES.
Sunday, February 23, 2014
Storm. Snow. Street. Sidewalk. Steps.
Smooth. Slick. Slippery. Slide. Stumble. Spill. Shriek. Scream.
Sorrow. Suffer. Sprain. Serious. Surgery. Sling. Summons. Suit.
Storm. Snow. Street. Sidewalk. Steps.
Sweep. Shovel. Scrape. Spread. Salt. Sand.
Storm. Snow. Sled. Sleigh. Splash!
Spring. Sun. Summer.
Monday, February 17, 2014
Thursday, February 13, 2014
Kudos to R' Yair Hoffman for tackling this issue.
Cigarettes, Camels, Carcinogens, Cancer, Critical, Chemo, Croak, Cause-of-death, Calamity, Cadaver, Casket, Chaval.
And pardon me, but the idiot who claims that Yeshiva Bochurim need an outlet, is not doing anyone any favors. Let them exercise.
Monday, January 27, 2014
People wonder why this blog is only SoMeHoW Frum. Considering that it strives to be LH free, one might feel that ToTaLlY Frum is more apt a moniker.
Yet it is the forays into modern culture, especially the sports posts, that give this blog it's uniqueness.
This week will mark the 48th running of the Super Bowl. Whereas many of these games did not live up to their title, this year's match-up appears to really be super.
The top offensive team, led by the Perfected Primary Passing Peyton, will square off against the top defensive team, led by the Super-Smart Safeguarding Safety Sherman.
Perhaps this will once and for all answer the conundrum of the ages known as the Irresistible Force Paradox. What happens when an Irresistible Force meets an Immovable Force.
Sunday night we should have an answer.
Please note that this blog does not condone watching the SuperBowl. And if you must, at least make use of your (half-)Time.
Thursday, January 9, 2014
Hat Tip: Torah Musing Daily Reyd
Concept and lyrics by: Rabbi Shalom Muskat
Recorded, performed, mixed, and mastered by: Mendy Fisch @ Fischbowl Studios, Brooklyn, NY
link to song
Way back in the stone age,
It wasn’t yet the phone age,
It was two cans and a string
Or you were all a lone-age
But nowadays we call,
All ppl large and small
If you don’t have a cell phone
You are Neanderthal
A cell phones a good start
But why not make it smart,
A phone that has a data plan
And is a work of art
My phone is so elite
The world is at my feet,
My life is now the internet
My life is now complete
Productivity, great efficiency,
Ill save so much time, now that I’m online,
Doing all my needs, at blazing 4G speeds,
Ill save so much time, now that I’m online,
I got my new device, for a gevaldige price,
The buttons are responsive and the screen is really nice.
For an entire day, I scroll and tap and play,
I’ve had 8 chats with Siri boy I cant put it away.
The next three days or four, I browse the itunes store,
I bought a hundred seven apps im buying 40 more.
I’m sure you will agree, this great technology,
Is gonna help me be, at peak efficiency.
The news I heard was great, a new firmware update, I think that ill install it now although its getting late.
And after this new patch, Ill install my apps from scratch,
the fact it took a day of life is such a minor catch.
It took me just a few more days I didn’t wanna fail
But now ive got my google docs and also google mail.
I got my contacts in my phone and also in the cloud,
I’m gonna save such time with that, I’ve never been so proud.
A few things my phone lacks, Ill fix them with some hacks,
I now can send an email to myself, not just a fax.
It only took six weeks, and several hacks and tweaks.
With input and suggestions from a hundred iphone geeks.
I have four thousand facebook friends I take them where I go
And if I have a sip of tea they are the first to know.
I pity all those backwards folks who don’t have facebook walls,
I’m sure it takes them so much time to make four thousand calls.
One day when I was loading apps, one thing led to the next, I emailed talked and tweeted and I sent another text,
I clicked on several videos, I surfed through several sites,
My nights turned into days, my days turned into nights.
One day my siri says to me “You need to get a life”
Are you sure you’re my siri, you sound just like my wife.
You haven’t seen your wifes face now, in over half a year,
Your children think that tatty bought a phone and disappeared.
You’ve really become selfish, think of yourself alone,
And maybe that’s the reason that they call it an Iphone.
I’m gonna help you one last time, my fine, time-saving chap,
I’m downloading for you right now, a great time-saving app.
When you click on this brand new app, your life will be your own,
when you click on this app my friend, it detonates your phone!
My life now is mine,
Now that I’m offline,
Life’s not undermined trying to save time
You can keep those vids, ill take my wife and kids,
Life’s not undermined just to save some time
Sunday, January 5, 2014
Friday, January 3, 2014
See Blogging Buddy Bray's Judging a Buchir by his cover first.
Derby Doffing Dapper Dude Dates Damsel Dressed Deplorably.
Dis-Dressed Dad Decries Digs, Duds, Decor; Demands Deference.
Dealer Delegates Dilemma, Drastic Depiction.
Darling Daughter's Destiny Doomed.
(picture updated Jan 8 14.)