Friday, April 30, 2010

Of Guitars and Dogs



Charles Schultz said that “Happiness is a Warm Puppy”. I say that Euphoria is when an underdog becomes the top dog.

Why is it that the underdog is so beloved? David vs. Goliath, Joe Namath vs. the NFL, 1948 fledgling Israel vs. the Arab World?

I think the answer lies in one word: Justice. Nobody likes a bully. At one time, or another, everyone has felt some sort of injustice perpetrated on them where they felt vulnerable and defenseless.

When the tide is turned, and the victim snatches victory from the hand of defeat, we can rejoice in knowing that justice has prevailed. Eight million viewers can't be wrong.

Please note: This is not an indictment against United Airlines, as this event may have transpired with any large corporation. Likewise, I am sure that many people have had very pleasant experiences with this carrier. Myself included.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Six, Sixty and Six Thousand





It is now six months since I began this journey in the Jblogosphere. Many issues have been discussed and even some comments from serious peers have been generated.


One topic that has reappeared often is the effect the internet in general and hebrewbooks.org in particular has had on the future of learning.



There was an effort to bring back some serious Hashkafic literature, i.e. the Jewish Observer, which unfortunately has not yet borne fruit.


There has been discussion about the Jewish music and literature of yesteryear. I suppose every generation yearns for the entertainment of their youth.

Additionally, an idea was offered that schools operate a blog to facilitate snow days and the like, but again, the Yeshiva World is not ready for certain ideas yet.

However, the main objective of this blog has been realized. We endeavored to show that blogging can be Loshon Hora free and in that regard, 6 months, 60 posts, and 6000 hits, later, we have succeeded.

May all readers be inspired to create their own Chiddushim!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


It is being debated elsewhere on the Jblogosphere whether we are better off now with the current Shidduch system, or if there is a better way.

In the not so distant past, most Orthodox weddings sported mixed seating. The marriages produced at those events seem to have lasted much longer than current "arrangements".

Putting aside the fact that it was stigmatic to separate years ago, the marriages of yesteryear seem much more solid than those of today. This may be due to the fact that our generation is more self centered, or a myriad of other reasons.


Yet there is the story of one Chassidic fellow who went to his brother, the Rebbe, when his daughter came of age, for a suitable candidate. “Go to a Shadchan” was the reply.

I recently came across a very interesting insight by one *Miami Rabbi that in the Torah we see various methods of courtship. Avraham and Sorah knew each other from childhood (the girl next door). Yitzchok and Rivka had an arranged marriage, and Yaakov and Rochel was love at first sight. Yet all these marriages flourished. So it seems that all methods are appropriate, given the various circumstances.

*Even Yaakov and Leah’s marriage bore fruit, proving that one can be tricked into marriage with successful results!

*Ideas expressed by asterisk are not my own, but are not being named since they were seen on a private mail list. Also, as noted on a previous post, the idea of saying over something "讘砖诐 讗诪专讜" is not so much as to give credit to the originator, but rather not to take the credit for yourself.

Friday, April 23, 2010






















Almost two years ago, I had the privilege to hear
Professor Aviezri Fraenkel, Creator of the Bar Ilan Responsa Program and Rabbi Chaim Rosenberg, creator of the Hebrewbooks.org website discuss the pros and cons of their respective programs.

It is amazing to think that less than two years ago hebrewbooks only had 15,000 Seforim online and today they have over 40,000.

The funniest moment of the lecture occurred when Professor Fraenkel discussed the humble beginnings of OCR (Optical Character Recognition) technology. At that time, the only enterprise willing to invest in OCR was the United States Postal Service. After chasing after the USPS for the longest time, they finally convinced them to run a study to determine how much such a machine would cost.

The head of the department finally responded that “I have good news and bad news. The bad news is that the first prototype machine will cost 10 million dollars. The good news is that the second one will only cost five million.”

“Good!” said the Professor. “I’ll take the second one”!

Friday, April 16, 2010

It's Country Yossi!






Mishpacha Magazine features Country Yossi in this week’s edition. I have long been a fan of Yossi Toiv, ever since the Ohr Chodosh band began producing records all those years ago. The classics “Oh the world” and “Bilvavi” among others were super hits that have withstood the test of time. Although I didn’t speak Yiddish and disliked “Alleh Yidden” as a child, I have come to really appreciate it as an adult.

As a teenager, the Shteeble Hopper albums were the perfect antidote to pop music. One was able to enjoy the beautiful melodies of the day, albeit with kosher lyrics. Even small children were able to enjoy CY’s talent in the form of the Kivi and Tuki recordings.

CY tells the following story: He was once in his clunker driving Rav Shlomo Freifeld (his Rebbe) to Biegeleisen's Seforim store from Far Rockaway and was pulled over by a policeman. "You're getting a ticket because your car is smoking". CY replied "Officer, this car is old enough to smoke"! Reb Shlomo laughed all the way to Brooklyn. Years later CY went to be Menachem Avel his Rebbe and when he entered the house Rav Freifeld told a visiting Rosh Yeshiva "Do you know what this bochur once told a cop"?

As mentioned earlier on this blog, years ago there was a dearth of quality Jewish Music prior to the recent explosion of geometric proportion. There was, The Mitzvah Tree, 613 Torah Avenue and Uncle Moishy in addition to the classic Pirchei albums. There was the JEP series and the various boys choirs; Miami, London, Yerushalayim, Amudai Shaish and Tzlil Vzemer, to name a few.


For the adults there was Carlebach The Rabbis Sons, Journeys/Dvaykus, The Megama Duo, Regesh, Kol Salonika, Dedi, Streicher, Ari Klein, Jo Amar, Wald, Dachs, Wulliger, MBD, Fried, Piamenta, Destiny and Diaspora.

Nowadays we have quantity, but with a Yossi Toiv production, there is always quality.

Disclaimer: I have no financial interest in CY Productions whatsoever.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Hat Tips




















I've often wondered why many a time the Gemara quotes statements of one Rav in the name of another. I suppose that the most probable answer is that the Oral Law was obviously handed down orally, and hence the statements were recorded in the names of those last few links.


However, what may be more accurate is that Chazal were trying to honor this saying by R' Elazar in the name of R' Chanina:



讜讗诪专 专"讗 讗诪专 专讘讬 讞谞讬谞讗 讻诇 讛讗讜诪专 讚讘专 讘砖诐 讗讜诪专讜 诪讘讬讗 讙讗讜诇讛 诇注讜诇诐 砖谞讗诪专 讜转讗诪专 讗住转专 诇诪诇讱
讘砖诐 诪专讚讻讬
(Megillah 15A)


What I find ironic is that more often than not, this Chazal is stated without naming Rav Elazar or Rav Chanina. What is most ironic, is that this saying is stated originally in the Mishna (Avos 6:6) anonymously!


UPDATED 4/13/2010 3:20 PM

I have given this some more thought and I believe I have arrived at the answer. Please let me know if the logic is solid.

It seems that what the underlying theme of this statement is that one should not take false credit for himself. It is a form of stealing. Esther could have used the information that Mordechai provided her for her own self promotion, yet she rightly refused to take the credit.

Rav Elazar in the name of Rav Chanina is teaching the message that it is a Geneivas Daas to have someone else think more highly of you than is rightfully so. Therefore there is no need to mention them when repeating this dictum. Everyone knows it nowadays. But not everyone knew about Bigsan and Theresh’s plot. That would have been incorrect for Esther to make believe that she became privy to that information on her own.

The idea is not to go around repeating that I heard this from so and so. The idea is that one should not go around taking credit for someone else’s intellectual property/chiddush.

When you repeat this chiddush to someone, tell them you saw it on SoMeHoW Frum!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Jewish Classics




I once entertained the notion to write book reviews on this blog. However, I am reluctant to pen reviews which naturally would be critical in some respect and hence have refrained. I can understand the Toeles for book reviews in the press, where the public has the need to know how to prioritize their book stipend, but at least the reviewer is paid for his efforts. I fall out of that category.

In any event, I wanted to mention 3 classic Jewish works of literature that I couldn’t find anything to criticize. All for the Boss, Tales out of Shul and Vintage Wein.

All for the Boss is the inspiring story of the life and impact of Rav Yaakov Yosef Herman, a Torah pioneer in early 20th century America. The story is told by his daughter, Ruchoma Shain. The legendary Hachnosos Orchim and staunch fight to uphold Yiddishkeit by the protagonist warms the heart. Not only does one get a flavor of life on the Lower East Side, but the reader gets an added bonus on life in Mir, Poland.

Tales out of Shul is the humorous self-told story of how Rabbi Emanuel Feldman emerged as one of the premier rabbis in North America. What began as a “starter” job as Rabbi of a small Atlanta community blossomed into a long distinguished career of mutual appreciation between the Rav and his congregation. Told with much flair and aplomb, it is one of my all-time favorites.

Vintage Wein, by Dr. James David Weiss is another classic which depicts the trials and tribulations of the rabbinate in general and Rabbi Berel Wein in particular. Very amusing and entertaining. Please add your favorites in the comments section.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Rav Yehoshua Dovid's Maharal Available Online





















It is gratifying to see that the new annotated works by Rabbi Hartman are now available online via HebrewBooks.org


This is a major development, as typically HB only uploads Seforim that are not under copyright. Obviously, they must have been given permission by the author/publisher.

Very few Seforim actually make any money. While I am pretty sure that this series did, still most authors can't publish because they are unable to find patrons to subsidize the cost. The Electronic Age can remedy that situation, as a simple email with your Sefer as an attachment can now be converted to PDF format. The Sefer can then immediately be available to any interested party worldwide. Amazing!
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