Friday, October 29, 2010

Chilean Miners Herald Moshiach

A recent article by Rabbi Avi Shafran pointed out that one of the lessons we should learn from the Chilean Mine incident is how appreciative we should be every morning, as each of us emerges from our death-like slumber. In fact, this is the reason why we say Modeh Ani.

I once descended into the bowels of the earth, in the abandoned Lackawanna Mine, which now functions as a tourist destination. There is a certain amount of nervousness as the mine car slowly descends. One can really appreciate the daylight and warmth of the sun as one emerges several hours later. Two months of this treatment is almost unimaginable.

What awed me was the super human intervention of peoples from all over the world in the race against time to save the miners. I was amazed that there were over 1 billion people who actually watched the proceedings simultaneously. My faith in humanity was restored, as previously the only time 1 billion ever gather to watch the same event is unfortunately found in insignificant sports matches.

This figure is even more astounding, considering that there are only 2 billion people in the world that are wired to the internet. Assuming that there are approximately 7 billion humans on the planet, that means that one out of seven people were tuned in.

I’ve posted elsewhere about the advent of Moshiach. This is just one more omen that the days of Moshiach are creeping up on us. Years ago, our rabbis told us that when Moshiach arrives, his coming will be a worldwide event, with everyone knowing about it simultaneously. In my opinion, we are at least 1/7th of the way there.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

County Yossi and the Shteeble Hoppers Ride Again

I wanted to write a review of the new album from Country Yossi immediately after the release, but common sense cautioned me to hold off until I listened many times, making for a more accurate assessment.

The album opens with “Oh Yankel”, a parody of Oh Carol. It is very amusing, and boasts a catchy tune; yet it gives strong Mussar to those who Plopple in Shul. Certainly worthy of becoming a classic.

“I am a Flower” is a beautiful melody with meaningful lyrics. One of my favorite songs on this album.

“Bashert” is timely.

“Boro Park” is a remake of the pop classic “Kokomo”. Hilarious lyrics ( which Country Yossi has become famous for) accompanied with a lively beat are sure to make this song a hit.

The “Myrtle Twig” and “Ilan, Ilan” are bound to popularize these famous stories from Talmudic lore.

“Seven Little Angels” is a powerful, haunting tune that depicts the beauty of Shabbos candles. Another song describes the serenity of fathers and their children as they go to Shul at the onset of Shabbos.

“Pessy Dena” is sure to be a hit among fans who can relate to the shortage of good cleaning help come Pesach time.

Other songs describe Klall Yisrael, Am Yisrael and Olam Haba. The entire album is much heavier on Jewish themes than previous albums, which perhaps shows a maturity of it’s songwriter.

My favorite composition is the riveting song about Moshiach. This haunting melody is one that can be listened to over and over, then continues to play over and over in one’s mind. Fabulous.

The album concludes with the powerful “Poseach”, sung by Yehuda Turner.

As usual, all new albums must grow on the listener, but this particular recording needs no growing pains, as the seedlings have been festering for 20 years. A most welcome addition to any music collection.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Happy Birthday!

Today is my blog's birthday. One year ago, I embarked on a mission to test the idea that a LH free blog was possible. As I look back on the past year, I am happy to report that it was a success. One of the positive outgrowths of maintaining this blog was the constant feeling for the need to be creative, to post on interesting topics that will either help the reader or engage their intellect. I feel success in this endeavor.

One topic that has been visited frequently on this blog is the concept of the "YouTube Generation". When I was younger, going to musical concerts and watching television was something that was experienced infrequently in my household. I never watched Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan lecture on national television, never saw the Megama Duo perform their hit song "Zaidy", and never saw super-human feats performed outside of the circus. Yet nowadays, all this and a whole lot more are available by a simple click of the mouse. The lesson we must learn from this is how valuable our time is, now that so much content is available.

My first post discussed how technology had enlightened us as to how some time-honored traditional beliefs are being strengthened. In the era before computers, it was unimaginable as to how all of our actions will be recorded for posterity, to be watched and judged after our time on this earth is up. We could not understand how Moshiach's arrival could be viewed world-wide simultaneously. Yet for the new generation, these concepts are as simple as pie, perhaps heralding his arrival.

Another topic we discussed was the power of the bloggers. Ironically enough, some abused individuals now have a voice, a cheap way of making themselves heard, but unfortunately some are using that voice to abuse others.

I've posted many times regarding the wonderful website. Several years ago one individual set out to save some Seforim from obscurity, and has parlayed his idea that all Seforim should be freely available to the public into a 43,000 and growing daily virtual library. My hat is off to him and his sponsors.

We've discussed the future of learning, how technology has made huge advances and how it will ease future study habits. Having all Seforim available literally on one's virtual Shtender will allow more time for study and let time invested in finding the source material.

We've discussed harnessing the power of the blog as a cheap alternative to expensive school/camp info-lines. We've discussed using small placards (akin to the Do Not Call Registry) to ward off unwanted solicitations during Davening. At this point I'd like to expand that idea to supporting a new initiative to have drivers affix an anti-flyer decal on their automobiles to prevent unwanted advertisements being placed on their windshields.

We've discussed some books of the past and the present. Among them, The Prime Ministers, Rabbi Moshe Sherer, Terror in Black September, The Precious Pears/The Call of the Shofar, All for the Boss, Tales out of Shul and Vintage Wein. We've discussed some singers of yesteryear along with their songs. Primarily Carlebach, Country Yossi, Diaspora Yeshiva Band, Safam and the Megama Duo, amongst others.

Several videos have been shared, among them Rabbi Avigdor Miller discussing the miracle of the apple, old films of Eretz Yisrael, caution films on the danger of drinking, smoking and hanging out with bad company. We even posted on the national anthem of the Jewish People and reviewed the Yankel film.

We've discussed Hat Tips twice and Wisdom of the Rabbis twice. We even eulogized some former Jbloggers.

I am proud of my commenters and my failed attempt to rejuvenate the Jewish Observer. I am proud of my 11,000 plus hits, my "Alphabet Series" and my over 100 posts. I am gratified to see that other blogs have sprouted up which also strive to be LH free. Wishing a worthwhile year of Jblogging to all my readers.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Hebrew Books in the Digital Age II

Readers of this blog know that I am enthusiastic about the website. I’ve written about the Internet and the future of learning, when one day the printed book will be a relic of the past.

One concern I’ve been worried about is how we can avoid forgeries that are bound to proliferate. To print a sefer, one must extend a significant amount of cost and effort, thus forgeries are not so prevalent in our time, but in the digital age, Photoshop and some good editing skills will make forgeries easier to accomplish and harder to identify, allowing anyone with an agenda to immediately find company in the Sefer of his choosing.

This has been demonstrated quite vividly by Mississippi Fred’s Robinson Crusoe post.

With relative ease, OTML has cleverly displayed a true

and not-so-true

version of a Sefer. I suppose that just as we have seen the proliferation of computer crime and consequently computer fraud detection detectives, so too, as online learning expands, hopefully we will find foolproof ways of ensuring that our Seforim have not been tampered with. In the mean time, hold on to your hard copies.


Monday, October 4, 2010

Quick Query/Question Quest

The Post Hoshana Rabba post.

I've often wondered why everyone feels the need to purchase their own set of five Aravos for the Hoshana Rabba rite. Why can't one simply Qlap his neighbor's Aravos five times on the floor? An Esrog/Lulav set is somewhat different in that one gets much more use out of them during Hallel, Hoshanas etc.

I've come across a recent Feldheim publication by Chayim Adess The Four Minim: A Pictorial Illustrated Guide, which contains some Quotes that may shed some light on this Quonnundrum.

According to Tanya Rabbasi [#86] "After Davening, each person carries home his Aravos and places them at the head of his bed to show his great love of the Mitzvah. This is the appropriate practice."

The Rama in Shulchan Aruch [664:9] writes: "The Qustom is to keep Aravos from HR until Erev Pesach and then use them for firewood for baking Matzos. Thus what was once used for a Mitzvah, will again be used for a Mitzvah."

HaGahos Maimoneous states that "the Rivak followed the Qustom of reusing the Aravos from SuQQos as Quills for writing a Sefer Torah, or as firewood for burning Qometz on Erev Pesach."

Finally, the Menoras HaMaor [3rd Candle 4:6:7] writes "The Aravos used on HR are a Segulah for protection during one's travels. Their effectiveness depends upon the righteousness of one's deeds and the purity of his intentions, He who trusts in Hashem will rest in his shade."

So my thoughts are that in order that one have Aravos to place at bedside, or use as firewood for baking Matzoh, or use a Quill to write a Sefer Torah, or use as firewood for burning Qometz or take on his travels, he should purchase his own set. Yet my thoughts wandered further that since most people don't follow any of these practices, one can simply gather the remains of another's Hoshanas for all these purposes. Of course, there is more sentimental value to use one's own object for these various Mitzvah's/Sequlos. And since the cost is relatively cheap, I suppose one should continue to purchase their own Quota of Aravos.
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