Monday, December 31, 2012

Klal: Keep Krovim? Kiruv?

The new issue of Klal Perspectives focuses on the Kiruv Phenomenon - what works and what doesn't and what has changed since the Kiruv Boom Days of the post '67 War. Entries are from most of the key players of the Kiruv movement. I have highlighted some of the more interesting comments:

Rav Sholom Kamenetzky:

“Always remember that you are not
HaKadosh Baruch Hu’s apotropis (guardian).” He is
responsible for the results, not you, and you have no right to
bend Shulchan Aruch in the pursuit of “better results.”

Rabbi Ephraim Buchwald:

Sadly, American Jewry prayed for a melting pot, but instead we now have a

Most Baaley Teshuva come from Reform/Conservative backgrounds. But those pools are shrinking.

Several years ago I raised many eyebrows for pointing out the ineffectiveness of contemporary kiruv efforts by noting that approximately 3,500 outreach professionals were “producing” fewer than 2,000 baalei teshuva a year. Had they been refrigerator salesmen they would have been fired fourteen times over!

Birthright – followup.

In light of the relatively small return on the investment in
campus outreach, I wonder why a greater effort is not directed
at reaching the not insignificant number of former Yeshiva and
Day School graduates who are on campus. In fact, I would
argue that it is time to establish more programs on campus
(such as OU’s JLIC – Jewish Learning Initiative on Campus)
directed at Modern Orthodox (MO) educated students, who
reportedly suffer a very high religious attrition rate during their
college years. (One recent study claimed a fallout rate of as
many as 50%!) Keeping the MO students in the fold is exactly
what is needed today. I say this despite my lifelong devotion to
reaching out to the non-committed. Clearly, keeping the
“committed committed,” should be our top priority.
example of this dangerous trend is the total elimination of
the presence of women from all publicity in the name of
“tznius.” Advertisements, fliers and marketing pieces for
outreach programs increasingly feature blurred-out faces of
little girls, or blank picture frames with the names of the
women speakers at the bottom. This type of insulting
marketing is currently even being promoted by some of the top
names in kiruv. It is not only an embarrassment; it is a huge
turnoff to anyone who might consider learning more about their
Jewish heritage.

This new radicalized direction of kiruv is not only doomed to
failure, it also suggests that those who have piously and
selflessly devoted their lives to the extraordinary efforts of
kiruv either lacked requisite devotion or failed to consult with,
and take guidance from, the rabbinic leaders of Jewry. Over 30
years ago, when we discussed with Rav Moshe Feinstein, z”l,
and other gedolim the parameters of outreach involving co-ed
NCSY and YU outreach seminars, no gadol suggested that
women’s faces need, or even should, be blacked out. The
parameters were halacha, but the goals demanded moderation
with halachic bounds. The advocates who are promoting this
radical approach will certainly have to give an account for the
many thousands of Jewish souls who are being lost and who
will be lost because of the further alienation they are causing.

Rabbi Bentzi Epstein:

RBE is the Director of DATA, community Kollel of Dallas. He shows how the Community Kollel has the power to change a community. Notes that excitement is a necessary ingredient.

Lori Pasternak:

Years ago, there was a famous comedian whose highly
irreverent routine included “The Seven Words You Can’t Say
on Television.” Today, you can say all of those words on
television, and more. Years ago, Lucy and Ricky slept in
separate beds. Today, Ricky sleeps with Fred in a popular and
accepted mainstream comedy.

I always tell women, “The choice of where you send your kids to
school will not result in who your kids will be, it is who your
grandchildren will be.”

Dr. Marvin Schick:

WHEN I WAS HONORED at the Torah U'Mesora dinner
twenty-five years ago, I compared the understandable emphasis
that our community was placing on kiruv with our neglect of
the challenges arising from the abandonment of religious life
by many, mostly younger persons, who – though raised
observant – no longer considered themselves Orthodox. “We
speak of kiruv rechokim,” I said, “but we pay no heed to the
problem of richuk kerovim.”

Rabbi Shraga Simmons - AISH

Rav Noach Weinberg, zt”l, founder of Aish HaTorah, had a plan for the Jewish people that was all-inclusive and holistic: Draft the frum world into doing kiruv and accomplish both goals simultaneously.

(Incidentally, I personally have been somewhat critical of the AISH viral videos, but after reading how effective they are, I retract my original criticisms.)

Bentzion klatzko:

Is it any surprise that Carlebach minyanim are proliferating? Is
it really a mystery why 50,000 people a year head to Uman for
Rosh Hashana? The Jewish people are begging to rediscover
the simcha (joy) in Yiddishkiet. Our children, our homes and
kehilos are striving to recapture the essence of a loving and
vibrant relationship with our Heavenly Father. When a nonobservant
person witnesses the true happiness of Judaism manifested in the Jewish home, this becomes the greatest reason to give it serious consideration. No kiruv expertise required! But when the joy of a relationship is absent, no intellectual argument or outreach seminar will be convincing or compelling. A loveless relationship is simply hollow and burdensome.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Local Learning Lures Lipa

Fascinating article that Lipa Schmetzer has enrolled in college. Yet what puzzles me is that Lipa notes how college is a ticket to Parnassa, yet he is making a fine Parnassa already without it.

Part of this Medina Shel Chessed conundrum is how we relate to the great Melting Pot. It is not easy to keep out unwanted influences, even in the secluded Chassidic areas as noted by R. AHARON HERSH FRIED in this landmark article in Hakirah.

Gerry Albarelli is a non-Jew who taught “English” (i.e.
secular studies) at the Satmar cheder in Williamsburg for five years and
wrote a book about his experiences. In the book, Albarelli talks
about his relationship with Mendy, the fifteen-year-old brother of a
boy he had undertaken to tutor at home. Mendy would come home
from yeshivah, often join in the tutorial sessions meant for his younger
brother, and always insist on walking the teacher to the subway.
Albarelli relates:

Then there are the questions that Mendy asks, walking me
to the subway, week after week. He asks these questions as
though everything depended on the answers:
“How they know the weather?”
“What means geology?”
“Who was Con Edison?”
“Thomas,” I say, “Thomas Edison.”
“No,” he insists, politely embarrassed by my ignorance.
“Con, Con Edison.”
Albarelli, Gerry, Teacha! Stories from a Yeshiva, Glad Day Books, 2000
(P.O. Box 112, Thetford, Vt. 05074)

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Mint Makes More Money

It seems that in recession times such as these, when politicians worry about falling off the Fiscal Cliff, belt tightening is something that every government agency must engage in.

I've seen news reports that even the Mint is now looking for ways to make the coins cheaper. You know that you have a problem when pennies cost two cents to make and nickels cost eleven cents.

This reminded me of several interesting tidbits. First of all, I once heard the reason why dimes, quarters and half-dollars are serrated, whereas pennies and nickels are not. Seems like in olden times, when coins were actually made of silver, people used to shave off little pieces of many coins and melt down the shavings. Serration put an end to that. Yet nickels and pennies were not made from silver.

What to do if someone tries to pay you with a shaved coin? That reminds me of a story in the Gemara Baba Kama 37A

חנן בישא תקע ליה לההוא גברא אתא לקמיה דרב הונא א"ל זיל הב ליה פלגא דזוזא הוה ליה זוזא מכא בעי למיתבה ליה מיניה פלגא דזוזא לא הוה משתקיל ליה תקע ליה אחרינא ויהביה נהליה

where Chanan Bisha hit someone and was fined by the court 1/2 Zuz. He paid with a Zuz that was not up to par and demanded change. The victim obviously was not interested in giving change. No problem, said Chanan. And he hit him again!

When touring the Mint many years ago, the guide noted at one point that the entire operation is not much different than a factory that makes washers (as in nuts, bolts and washers). The only difference is, he said, that here at the Mint " we always make money."

Monday, December 17, 2012

Levaya Launches Leadership Lament

This past week I attended the Levaya of a Rabbi who served for many years as a mentor for hundreds of followers.

During the procession, I noticed a good friend of mine, a grandfather already several times over, with tears streaming profusely down his face.

This caused me to pause, as I am used to seeing tears by funerals, yet shameless sobbing on a public street for one who is not even a relative is not often seen.

And then I realized that it is I who should be crying. In that I don't feel that close to MY mentor.

May this blog post arouse all those who lack loyalty, who are lackadaisical and lax in their living without a lawgiver, to fulfill the dictum of Aseh Lecha Rav to the utmost degree.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Dialogue For Torah Issues and Ideas Fall 5773/2012: Review

The new issue (No. 3) of Dialogue is now available. See here and here for reviews of previous editions.

[Disclaimer: I am not associated with Dialogue in any way.]

I am quite impressed with the latest volume of Dialogue. This 3rd volume is a remarkable contrast to the previous two volumes. Whereas the first two offerings showed growing pains, this latest edition boasts a maturity rarely seen in a periodical so young.

The bulk of the current issue focuses on Orthodoxy confronting changing attitudes towards Homosexuality and Metzizah BePeh. The magazine continues in the tradition of the Jewish Observer in clearly delineating and defining Orthodox Hashkafah vis-a-vis these topics.

The lead article, A Torah View on Homosexuality, was penned by Rav Aharon Feldman, Rosh Yeshiva of Ner Israel, member of the Rabbinical Board of Dialogue, and member of the Moetzes. RAF explains why Homosexual behavior is so despicable, and why, until recent times, even Gentiles did not sanction HS with a marriage document.

A follow-up article was written by Rabbi Hillel Goldberg, Editor of the Intermountain Jewish News, The Attempt to Legitimate Homosexuality Within Orthodoxy. RHG documents the geometric change in attitude that the world has undergone with regard to HS over the past 50 years. Particularly within some segments of "Orthodoxy" who advocate for behavior that the Torah clearly labels Toevah and prohibited.

The final essay in this trilogy was offered by Dr. Elan Karten, Sexual Orientation Change Efforts: A Clinical Perspective. He discusses his professional practice that revolves around those seeking Reparative Therapy to combat SSA.

Finally, Rav Shmuel Kamenetzky, Rosh Yeshiva of Philadelphia and member of the Moetzes shares his thoughts on Same Gender Attraction and Reparative Therapy in the letters section.

Rabbi Moshe Einstadter, member of Dialogue's Editorial Board takes us on an intellectual journey, Koheles and Shir HaShirim Two World Views, into the paradox how both Koheles and Shir Hashirim could be written by the same author.

Rabbi Abba Zvi Naiman discusses Lo Sisgodedu and Tefillin on Chol Hamoed, why Lo Sisgodedu seemingly applies primarily to Tefillin on ChM and not other areas of Halachik difference.

Rabbi Benjamin Blech writes on the topic of The Parah Adumah and the symbolism of Color. He takes us on a fascinating journey into the mystery of this Chok, and along the trip we discover many insights into Eisav's selling of the Bechora, and the significance of the color red.

What would a good Jewish Journal be without some reference to the Cairo Genizot? Professor Robert Brody shares with us Polemics in the Early Geonic Period - Pirqoy Ben Baboy's Letter and Its Implications.

Doctors Isaac Betech and Obadia Maya delve into The Identity of the Shafan and Arnevet. This is a snippet from their forthcoming book The Enigma of the Biblical Shafan. Using a novel interpretation of Maaleh Gerah (to get around the problem that rabbits and hares don't chew their cud), they argue that the Shafan and Arnevet are in fact the rabbit and the hare, and not the hyrax as argued by other recent authorities.

Doctors Jonathan Zenilman and Lawrence Stanberry take issue with Dr. Daniel Berman's recent offering in Dialogue in The Dangers of Metzizah BePeh - A Response to Dr. Daniel Berman. Followed by A Rejoinder to Drs. Zenilman and Stanberry by Dr. Daniel Berman.

Professor Brenda Breuer joins the fray with An Epidemiological Critique of the CDC Report on Metzizah BePeh.

Professor Simeon M. Berman follows with An Analysis of the CDC's Statistical Methodology.

Professor Awi Federgruen also challenges the CDC's position with A Review of the CDC Statistics.

Rabbi Professor Dr. Avraham Steinberg and Moshe Westreich MD offer Halachic-Medical Position Paper - Metzizah BePeh in Traditional Jewish Ritual Circumcision.

A lawyer enters the arena with Is Metzizah BePeh Dangerous? A Critical Analysis of the NYDOH Study by Yerachmiel Simins, Esq.

And lastly, we have two more lawyers: Informed Consent for Metzizah BePeh - A Legal Analysis. by Shay Dvoretzky and Yaakov Roth Esqs.

Letters to editor include Rav Shmuel Kamenetzky's letter which was already noted above. Also, a short correction is noted by Avi Horowitz with regard to Yoram Bogacz's article from the previous edition.

The last two articles are in Hebrew. Rabbi Yechiel Goldhaber writes on the history of secular marriage in France and Italy, and Rabbi Eliyahu Avigdor Feldman writes on מציצה בפה ושכיחא הזיקא.

All I can say about this new edition is Wow! My complaint about earlier volumes was primarily how sparse they were. This new edition is almost 3 times the size of the previous two. I didn't notice any blatant typos. There is enough material here to keep one engaged for quite some time. Another minor complaint was the drab color used for volumes I and II. The deep blue of the current edition is a remarkable improvement in that regard. The only thing that puzzles me about volume III is that the Hebrew articles increment using the English page numbers. In other words, unlike Hakirah where the Hebrew articles start at the end of the volume and move towards the middle, these articles flow left page to right page. Another criticism has been that Dialogue does not engage in dialogue. Yet although this volume is heavy on the Pro MbP camp, the fact that they included opposing views was refreshing. Finally, they've removed the advertisement on the back cover, giving it a more professional look.

Dialogue can be ordered by calling 410-367-2567 or email
AJOP 5906 Park Heights Avenue, Suite 10, Baltimore MD 21215

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Administrative Note. Some Comments Lost


I have retrieved the lost comments.

[Apologies, I mistakenly labeled comments on the last few blog posts as Spam, hence losing them in the blogosphere. Please repost, or post new ones! - SoMeHoW Frum]

Monday, December 3, 2012

Gangnam Gangsters Gyrate Grotesquely

Blogging Buddy The Partial View, has posted recently on the phenomenon of Yeshiva Bochurim dancing at Chasunahs to current Pop Music trends.

Apparently I had been living in a cave, as I was not aware of this Youtube sensation that has Garnered upwards of 800 million hits, and is Glorified as the most watched Youtube Gig of all time.

To satisfy my curiosity, I foolishly unfiltered my PC for some Gratuitous Gratification, only to be Greeted by a Garishly Garbed Gangster, Galivanting about in the Gutter in his Goal to Get the Girl.

This Godless Gentile, Grossly Garmented, Generates Glee as he Glides, Gropes and Grooves the Gauntlet, his Gallery of Ghastly Greed.

It seems that this topic surfaces every so often. Not that long ago, there was the Macarena, before that was Yidden (Ghengis Khan) etc.

As the electronic world Germinates and Grows, bringing the Gamut of Western Culture to every nook and cranny, there is little that can be done to filter out the Garbage. Many years ago I heard Avrohom Rosenblum from the Diaspora Yeshiva Band defend the use of the rock-n-roll Genre for his music. The argument was that every culture has influenced the music of its Jewish inhabitants. What we call "Good" Jewish Music today is in reality the music of the Russian/Polish/German etc. of yesteryear.

Although this argument has some merit, there still is the "jungle beat" which is unnerving. Also, even if the tune is slow and beautiful, it may not be appropriate for Davening. Not everyone will appreciate their Lecho Dodi distrubed by conjuring up images of Simon and Garfunkel.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

BnaiBrak Banishes Ballistic Barrage

While Bombs were Bursting and Battering, Rav Chaim Kanievsky advised adherents to continue their learning, as Bnai Brak would Be spared the Blitzkrieg that was creating Bedlam elsewhere in the country.

It Baffled many that BB seemed to Bypass the Blow-ups that occurred in surrounding neighborhoods. Yet the Bunker-Breaking-Blasts Belied Belief in that the Torah Learning seemingly did Block Breaches in the city.

Elsewhere in the the Blogosphere, it has been debated whether Chareidim should Bare their Yeshivos in Beer Sheva, and Bring Boys to safer Barracks. If they are true soldiers, should they desert their Battalions in this time of need? Won't learning in the cities at the "Front" not "Back" protect them and their neighbors?

A noble question indeed. Yet perhaps this query could be answered with a second question. What right to the Chareidim have to tell others how to Behave? Why demand Tznius dress to enter their Businesses? Why demand no pig Breeding? Why demand no Banking and Bus-driving on Shabbos?

The answer my Brothers, is that one question answers the other. It may Be that one must make sure that one's surroundings are full of Kedusha. Perhaps the Tumah from a mixed city allows rockets to fall indiscriminately. Only a city that is Totally Torah True, Thwarts the Evil. Bnai Brak may not Be the only city with Tzadikim, But the Reshaim are few and far Between. Can't say the same for Ashdod.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Cyber Cloud Computing Conundrum

Ready or not, Cloud Computing is about to proliferate.

The basic idea of cloud computing is to have your applications run via the World Wide Web, rather than a local server in your company or simply the hard drive of your PC.

In other terms, you will now log into Office 365, a new version of Microsoft Office whereby the application runs "online" and is easily accessible from anywhere in the world that has a WiFi connection. Many other applications will soon follow this same model and be available online.

There are many advantages to this. Small companies will not need the services of an IT Department, as all software version upgrades will now take place outside the company. Backup of files will no longer be the responsibility of the small business, but rather the company providing the Cloud services.

Yet there are some disadvantages, and in my opinion, these disadvantages outweigh the aforementioned benefits. Primarily your data files will now be controlled by others. Additionally, if your internet connectivity is down, you no longer have access to the program.

There have long been concerns with privacy ever since computers invaded our lives. The electronic footprint that one leaves during everyday experiences is mind boggling. Security cameras pick up where you go, EZPass tracks your toll activity, GPS tracks your driving record, computers track your website history, credit cards track your shopping history, libraries track your book/video interests, telecom services track all your personal calls and food stores and pharmacies track your every purchase etc.

What emerges from these realizations, are common themes that have been features many a time on this blog.

First of all, we must really begin to appreciate Shabbos, when all the electronic interruptions are halted for one day a week.

The second thought we must encounter is the realization that the current privacy issues make the thought of GOD so much more real and relevant. Years ago it was unimaginable to understand how all our actions will be held accountable for one day, how we will watch a replay of our lives after 120 years...

Yet the same "cloud" that spies on us, is the same "Anan" that protects us. Once we realize that we have nothing to fear.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Introspection, Insight, Identifying Ills

Our rabbis have taught us that whenever we are faced with tragedy, we should reflect inward. Recent upheavels in our comfortable mode of living is certainly reason to pause and contemplate why we face these "wake-up" calls.

While it is easy to blame unrest on Tznius, LH and other human frailties, no one today has the status of Navi, and hence it is only conjecture as to why these trying times are visited upon us.

It is not for naught that these "once in a century" storms are now taking place bi-annually.

Yet it did not go unnoticed by some that during Hurricane Irene, Hurricane Sandy and the current Gazan escalation, the victims were primarily Frum.

The Frum loss of life in NY during Hurricane Irene was way out of proportion to the public at large. The current 4 victims of the Gazan War were all Orthodox. Hurricane Sandy severely damaged several Jewish communities, along with their Yeshivos. A recent serial killer in Brooklyn has attacked 2 Orthodox storekeepers.

So since I am not a Navi, nor the son of one, I can only surmise that we are doing something wrong. Perhaps the current frenzy of staying constantly connected, rather than just tuning in 3 or 4 times a day is the culprit? I have no other insight other than it seems that our community is being targeted; and only a thorough introspection will convince the Power-That-Be to cease and desist.

Corrected 12:18AM Nov 22.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Bean Barter Buys Bechora/Brocha

Bonded Brothers Brazenly Battle.

Bullets, Ballistics Batter Buildings, Bodies. Broken Bones, Bleeding Bandages.

Bomb Blasts Bombard Barracks.

Barak, Barack Begrudgingly Buffer.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Oh'Bummer: Obamacare Objective Obtained

Republican Romney's Rapid Retreat

Friday, November 2, 2012

Mashiv, Morid - Moisture, Monsoon

We asked for it.

Soon after we began asking for God to make the wind blow and the rain fall - Our prayers were answered.

The Eastern Seaboard of the United States has been hit hard with wind and rain in the form of Hurricane Sandy. Aptly named, the storm wreaked havoc on areas that are not usually prone to high winds and even higher waves.

Landmarks were marked and decimated by this ferocious franken-storm. I find it amazing the realization that air and water, usually life saving medium, can become such a strong force when united. Air and Water can uproot houses and move beaches when heeding the call of their creator.

This is something to ponder, while we wait in gas lines.

Did we pray too hard?

Bellicose Birds Beyond Billion

Is there an APP for that?

App is shorthand for application, and it seems that these days technology is rapidly bringing about the end of days.

The cordless phone has gone from luxury to necessity. The internet is becoming increasingly impossible to live without. Not only in the homes, but some can not live without it even in their pockets.

The Talmud is now literally at the tip of one's fingers. Finding a restaurant or a gas station or any other point of interest is also just a click away. Indeed, we live in historic times.

One news item struck my eyes this week. It seems that 'Angry Birds' has topped the one billion download mark!

Being that scientists conjecture that there are approximately 100 or 200 million birds in the world, it is amazing to realize that there are now more virtual birds than real ones.

Monday, October 22, 2012

BaseBall - Battling Batting, Bottling, B’attaling

And so the mighty New York Yankees have fallen. The team that led the league in Homeruns was swept out of the ALCS in four quick games. Aside from one aberrant inning, the Yankees set all kinds of records – but this time it was for lack of, rather than an abundance of, SWAT.

God certainly has a fine sense of humor. Who could have predicted that they would bench their 100 million dollar man? Who could have predicted that a recent acquiree would Belt several homeruns to keep them on a lifeline – for some time?

The lesson learned here is not to put your faith in Man; Not to waste your time on an entire season that goes up so quickly in smoke. Imagine if all the Yarmulka clad fans would spend the three hours of game time on the Daf. Imagine no Battalah, no beer bottling bellied bozos?

Imagine that!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Bright Blue Brakes Better

It has been some time since I've posted. Yom Tov gives one the opportunity to rejuvenate and refresh mind and body.

It has been related to me, that before Rav Yitzchak Hutner ZTL would deliver his famous Yom Tov Maamorim (discourses), he would sometimes spend days in thought; until he developed his ideas and theories to completion.

So many various ideas entered my head during Chol Hamoed, but sadly they became a Davar HaAvud as I neglected to jot them down.

Yet one thought was thinked and thunked to fruition, and I'd like to hear your comments as to why this has never been implemented.

My idea is that motorized vehicles should have a different colored light that would ignite when one steps on the brake. Currently, the tail-lights and brake lights in cars world-wide are always red. Yet this sometimes could fool a driver into thinking that the car in front of him has not stepped on the brake, when in fact he has.

Why not designate a different color specifically for braking? I suggest blue, as blue and red are colors that are used by law enforcement to be noticed at night.

I don't have a satisfactory answer. Perhaps Gridlock Sam Schwartz could use his Talmudic reasoning to either explain why this is not a good idea, or better yet, have this idea standardized globally.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Google, GoDaddy Generate God-fearingness

During these interim days of reflection, it is worthy to contemplate how much the world has changed in recent years.

The internet has changed everything. The mobile phone has changed everything. And now that the internet is available on the mobile phone - well, you guessed it - everything is changed.

Yet as pointed out in my very first post, technology points to God in so many ways. Whereas years ago it was unfathomable how one could track all of someone's actions, it is abundantly clear nowadays that there is an eye that sees, an ear that hears and a hand that writes down all our deeds.

The security camera is now everywhere. Texting records all our thoughts on a written record. GPS and EZPass track our every move.

I've noted in the past how Google and God begin with the same two letters. So does Go-Daddy. Coincidence?

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Barclays Brings Brooklyn Basketball

Not since 1957 has Brooklyn Been home to Professional Sports. Many of our parents remember Ebbets field in the Flatbush section of Brooklyn. Yet the Dodgers went to La La Land, and the Borough has remained Sports-rein ever since.

Enter Bruce Ratner, a real estate mogul who has been relentless in his drive to Bring Back Boys of Summer (or Fall or Winter) to Brooklyn.

In the downtown section of the Borough, Bruce has Built a Ball-park designed By Becket's Architecture Firm worthy of hosting Boxing, Basketball, Brass-Bands and Bar and Bas-Mitzvahs.

Brighton Beachers and Boro-parkers will need only hop on a train to Be Bedazzled By Blocks, Breakaways and Baseline Buzzer Beater Buckets.

Backstreet Boys will Befriend Bad Behaviored Betters who Believe that Beer Bellied Boasting Brooklynites are Best.

Amid the Brownstones of Broadway, Bob Dylan and Barbara Streisand will join with Barnum and Bailey's Brothers Circus to entertain the 2.5 million residents who will no longer need to drive the BQE, But will Be able to take the B line or the Bus and make a Bee-line to this centrally located Building.

But the real Benefit of this Barclays Bank Briyah will be to serve the overflow crowds that will flock to MetLife Stadium, CitiField etc. for the Siyum Hashas of 2019.

Bravo Bruce!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Gutter Gateway GoDaddy Gutted

Yesterday, a good part of the internet was gutted by a cyber attack on the web hosting giant

Although GoDaddy has cheap prices, perhaps it is time to reassess one's relationship with this company. GoDaddy is infamous for pushing the envelope in sponsoring racy superbowl advertisements. Perhaps it is better to keep company with other companies that are more sympathetic to Jewish morals.

Moral of the story: Go away from Daddy. Go to the Tatteh in Himel.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Children's Chinuch Cheerfully Charted - R. Y. Bender Video

Several websites have been featuring a recent Chinuch Video delivered by Rabbi Yaakov Bender on August 22 of this year. I have listened to this shiur and have highlighted MY impressions below.

Raising Happy and Productive Children:

Moshe begins Devarim by saying Lo Uchal Levadi Laseis Eschem...followed by the next Pasuk that says... Hashem should multiply you, should bless you...followed by the next Pasuk which says famously...Eicha Esa Levadi.

Strange that Moshe says he can't deal with the multitudes, then subsequently says that they should multiply even more!

Apparenlty Moshe is faced with the dillema of all parents, he clearly loves them and wishes that they are numerous, yet still must figure out a way to balance discipline with love.

RYB doesn't ever remember being upset at his mother (his father passed away when he was small). A parent must CONSTANTLY keep Chinuch on their mind, not letting go of the concept for one second. The same way a glazier has glass on the floor and a printer has papers all around, the parent must always be cognizant of the Chinuch of their children.

Parents must create an atmosphere whereby the children do not want to disappoint their parents. No yelling and no screaming by parents at children - is paramount.

Parents must constanly use life's lessons to impart character to their children. He noted that when a sibling of his found a large sum of money, she felt so bad for the loser that she went outside to see if anyone was looking for the money. A similar story he told of Rav Pam who found money but did not want to buy something with it immediately because the loser was still feeling pain.

He cautioned against slipping a dollar bill through the mailslot to Meshulachim. Children learn a lesson from that and will not appreciate human connection.

Children had so little in those years, yet they were happy. An old broomstick and a spalding ball brought so many hours of enjoyment. Nowadays kids aren't happy even with professional grade equipment.

One time he went to visit his mother and as the visit concluded, proceded to invite his children to kiss their Bubby. Yet his mother told him, "not today", just go. When he got home he called her and she told him that the lady whom she was talking to was a Holocaust survivor who had no children and it would have been impolite to have her own grandchildren kiss her when the other woman had none (Incidentally, what I appreciated from this story was the fact that his children kissed their Bubby at each visit).

He told a story of how when he was working in a camp he got a knock on his door once late at night - preceding visiting day. Turns out that the 11 year old wanted him to wash a shirt. Why? because his mother was going to see him the next day and he wanted to be wearing her favorite shirt.

Children must be afraid of Aveiros, not parents.

He quoted an amazing statistic that "95% of OTD kids come back.". You must smother them with love and not be worried about what affect they have on other siblings. Just ask them to do whatever they need to do behind closed doors.

Don't Kvetch in front of children.

Don't demand 100 on every test.

Don't tell other parents about shortcomings of your children. Inevitably it will get back to the child.

Treat children like adults. He noted that Rav Nosson Tzvi Finkel, Rav Yaakov Kamenetzky and others were so great because of how they treated children. He told a story of how one young man's life was changed when his train was late to Yeshiva and the principal invited him into his office for breakfast instead of berating him.

Don't make a big deal when children engage in behavior that they will outgrow. For example, if a child offers a left hand instead of a right hand to the time they are adults they will no longer do this.

Don't tolerate Chutzpah.

Don't treat waiters, stewardesses harshly and expect your children not to follow your actions.

Don't make racial jokes, in-law jokes, etc. Of course it is a joke, but the child's character will be flawed.

Don't lie. Don't put a child under a turnstile if he rightfully should pay. Children learn from this not to be truthful.

Kids need time and your undivided attention.

Never cry about something that can be replaced with money.

Open your homes to those in need. He noted that it says Vesamacta Bechagecha, Ato, Bincho etc. then continues on with Ger, Yasom, etc. Rashi notes that Hashem is saying...if you take care of the downtrodden, I'll take care of you. Arbaah Sheli KeNeged Arbaah Shelcha.

Bemoaned how today it is Treif to be a Pirchei Leader.

OTD. No rhyme or reason. Disagrees with those who say they are Reshaim. Not necessarily parents fault, as usually it is only one of a bunch. Told a story of a mother who wanted to nix a Shidduch of her son because one of the girl's brothers was OTD. The mother claimed that you need to "check the brothers". Rav Schach said that it only applies to Midos. So mother said but "He's killing his parents.", to which RS replied, that it is not a Midos problem, it is Taaveh.

Motivate with prizes is OK. Use the carrot, not the stick.

Ball Games are not recommended. Tznius and language concerns make these not the proper place for Jewish children.

"Everyone" has it or does it is usually not true. He didn't give his own daughter a cell phone until the middle of 12th grade (which was when the 2nd to last person in her class got one).

Doesn't recommend seminary in EY due to cost (his daughter DID go).

Children need to be NORMAL. Don't overload them with holiness at a young age.

Shidduch Crisis - What can we do? Daven for them.

Speak about Shmiras Einayim publicly? Perhaps it is more relevant nowadays bec. of internet.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Wealthy Wolfson - Wikipedia Wanting

Zev Wolfson ZTL, quiet grand philanthropist passed away this past week at 84 years of age.

What is amazing about this individual is how many charities he supported, yet still was able to retain a certain amount of anonymity.

Reading the papers this week, I was amazed by the sheer amount of organizations who placed full page advertisements in the newspapers thanking him and his family for their support throughout the years.

The spectrum of support ranged from Chareidi institutions to Modern institutions, from the USA to Israel, Domestic (Shalom Task Force) causes, the IDF, Kiruv Institutions and a myriad of others.

Yet the most mind boggling of all is that there is nary a Wikipedia entry on him. I wonder if this was because he was so humble and hidden, or perhaps he was able to pay others to remove him from the limelight.

In any event, Yehi Zichro Baruch!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Live-daf, Live-chat, Lectures Launched

The Daf Yomi concept, originally conceived in 1923, has seen 12 full cycles of the completion of Shas.

Each new cycle grows exponentially, as 7 years ago using a stadium as the venue for Siyum was more of a joke than a dream. Similarly, Madison Square Garden and other arenas were not taken seriously until they were offered and subsequently filled.

Every generation has new products and services invented to faciliate the completion of the goal: finishing Shas and retaining as much as possible.

The radio was initially used by Rav Pinchas Teitz, Rabbi Eli Teitelbaum proliferated Torah Tapes for the tape recorder and Dial-A-Daf for the telephone. E-daf used the internet to put the full Tzuras HaDaf online, and many others have used the world wide web to disseminate their lectures, essays and videos.

Artscroll has recently launched an app that contains their entire English Elucidation, available for the iPad and other electronic devices.

Notable among new websites is One can see streaming video of the daily shiur, complete with a link to the Tzuras Hadaf provided by An added feature allows one to send questions of the daily daf via live chat. One can even download the day's shiur in MP3 format for listening on the go.

I haven't tried the livechat feature yet, but this question was recently bothering me. The Gemara says that Hashem said KaChatzos and Moshe changed it to BaChatzos: (Berochos 4A)

וכיון דמשה הוה ידע למה ליה למימר כחצות משה קסבר שמא יטעו אצטגניני פרעה ויאמרו משה בדאי הוא דאמר מר למד לשונך לומר איני יודע שמא תתבדה ותאחז
so that the Egyptians should not say that Moshe is wrong, if midnight were to be off from their calculations. What I am puzzled with is how they were able to tell time at night without use of sundials and the like. I suppose the constellations may have been of some help, but not to such a fine degree. Water clocks are also not that precise. Answers are welcome in the comments field.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Magnanimous? Money-Making Muni-Meters Mooch

Some time ago I posted on the ultra-modern new bicycle locking devices being installed around NYC.

As I speculated then, it seems that the City is not necessarily magnanimous, but rather practical in providing bicycle parking, a function currently being provided by parking meters, but will go the way of the dodo as the new muni-meters gradually replace the old.

In other two-wheeled news, Bike-for-Chai continued it's amazing fundraising effort by raising over 1.6 million dollars for Chailifeline/Camp Simcha.

What is amazing about this story is that only a mere 3 years ago, one biker decided to raise money while biking up to camp. That one man has now morphed into over 200 riders raising a tremendous amount of money for Tzedakah.

Kein Yirbu!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Spectacular Shas-Siyum Sanctifies Stadium

Entire 7 hours of Siyum video link. Hat Tip T.P.V.

Start Simple: Summation Significant
Storms Silenced: Shechina Shown
Security Scrutinizes Specific Supporters
State-of-the-art Special Stage Structures
Sun Shine Scarcely Seen
Semites Stare Scenic Scoreboards
Surprise Speaker Shuns Speech (R. Scheiner)
Spellbound Spectators Soar Skyward
Sarah/Saul Segregated Seating Sections
Spiritual Singers Serenade Spontaneously
Synchronized Study Seven Solar-cycles
Sellout Stands Simulate Superbowl
Storm's Strength Slowly Subsides
Substantial Straphangers Stretch Subways
Sound System Shares Simcha
Show Stimulates Summer Shiurim
Sacred Siyumim Soon Starting.

It was a night to remember. I left my house early to hopefully beat the crowds that were expected at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ for the 12th completion cycle of the Daf HaYomi. Yet the roads just didn’t seem to have enough bandwith to satisfy the throngs that gravitated towards this once in 7.5 years Daf HaYomi celebration.

And what a celebration it was! It was the SuperBowl of the Torah World, conveniently housed in the same venue that hosts the NY Giants SuperBowl Champions, and will also be home to the game itself in 2014.

Walking into this arena for the first time I was struck by the magnificent architecture which would soon host upwards of 90,000 people. Security was tight as each person was scanned by a security wand and had their possessions searched. Bomb sniffing canines were on hand, as well as some 700 State Troopers. Several choppers were making flyby’s, but kept their distance, hence not creating a disturbance the way they noisily patrolled the recent CitiField Asifa.

Hatzoloh and Misaskim as well as many other numerous agencies were on hand. One could tell that years had been spent in planning the Event, and what an event it was!

Although it was called for a 7 PM start, traffic constraints delayed the kickoff until 7:30, with Mincha led by Rav Yaakov Levovitz (Rosh Yeshiva, Givat Shaul). A program upwards of 200 pages was given to each entrant, which contained the necessary text of Micha, Maariv and the last Daf of Nidah as well as the first Daf of Brachos. What amazed me was that the text was also concurrently displayed on the Jumbotrons, which scrolled at an appropriate rate for my taste, which allowed me the liberty of not holding the cumbersome program. A call went out the ladies for their assistance in drawing the makeshift curtains for the duration of the Tefilah. [Incidentally, the NYT coverage of the event, written by a woman, overtly and overly focused on the women being second class citizens.]

R. Rechnitz then led the assembly in reciting Tehillim, Kappital 130.

R. C.D. Zwiebel from the Agudah then introduced R. Elly Kleinman, Chairman, who thanked the many people who brought this Siyum to fruition. Particularly the Misaymim themselves and their families who enabled them. He also thanked the staffs of Agudah and MetLife, and in particular the sponsorship of the Schottenstein family.

A short video was then shown. The quality of this and other videos which followed were of superior quality. Short, to the point and technologically up to date. RCDZ then read a letter from the Skulener Rebbe.

R. Shlomo Yehuda Rechnitz, Master of Ceremonies then spoke. He sadly pointed out that 6,000,000 people would have filled 60 such stadiums! He noted that Hitler YMS was applauded in 1936 during the Olympics in Berlin. Yet now the tables are turned as we are filling stadiums and are as vibrant as ever (my words, not his). He spoke about Esav wanting Brocha Achas – wanted the blessing of “Unity”, which was apparent in the wide spectrum of participants – from Shtreimel to Kipa Serugah to baseball cap (and actually some without any head covering at all). He spoke about Shalom, which incidentally is part of the last Mishna in Nidah/Shas. He noted that the Siyum is taking place on the 13th of the month of Av, and the word “Echad” is 13 in Gematria.

Rav Shmuel Kamentzky was honored with Divrei Brocha. He noted that the Avos and Shevatim were not Zoche to receive the Torah. Only a “community” is worthy of such. He spoke about Kavod HaTorah.

I mentioned in the previous post how the new Siyum book claims that Kad Yasvin was composed by R Meir Schapiro in honor of the first Siyum Hashas in 1931 and was wondering why this soulful melody is no longer played by Siyumin. Well, I was thoroughly surprised when Abish Brodt and his Band (Brodt Brothers’ Beautiful Band ) then belted out this mournful melody. It was the highlight of the evening for me, as I didn’t even want to talk to my seatmates during the rendition, savoring every last note. It was now 8:40 PM and the stadium, which was only sparsely populated at 7PM, was now overflowing capacity.

The Novominsker Rebbe, Rav Yaakov Perlow then spoke about Study of Torah and Yisrael V’Oraysoh Chad Hu. He spoke short and sweet, and I had the feeling that the program was going to be finished by 11PM or 1130PM the latest, due to the delayed starting time. He spoke about the famous Vort how the Torah is a conglomerate of many different geographical regions. Mishna from EY, Talmud from Bavel, Tosfos from Ashkenaz, Rif, Rambam, Rashi, Africa, Spain and France, Germany, Lithuania, Poland, up to our time in America. He said that tonight is a “Yom Tov of cosmic proportions”. “Torah keeps us alive”. He quoted Rav Saadia Gaon that “Torah defines us as a nation”.

I was very impressed that the speeches were primarily in English. RYP did speak for a while in Yiddish, but then switched to the vernacular.

We then saw another video of Daf Yomi throughout the decades. RMS proposed the idea of Daf HaYomi in 1923, at the first Knessiah Gedolah. He was the youngest speaker, all of 36 years old. The Chofetz Chaim was overjoyed with the proposal, and the Imrei Emes, the Gerrer Rebbe gave the program a jump-start by leading all his Chassidim to start Masechta Brachos on Rosh HaShana of that year. Rabbi Pinchos Teitz popularized it even more in the 1950’s when he began to give Shiurim on the radio. Rabbi Eli Teitelbam began Dial-A-Daf, and with all the new technology available in our day, (Artscroll’s new App) there is virtually no Jew alive who does not have the necessary resources to join the program.

Rabbi Dovid Olewski, Rosh Mesivta of Beis Yisroel D’Gur then spoke, but his speech was in a difficult Yiddish, and in my opinion was too long (perhaps because I didn’t know what he was talking about). Interestingly enough, the modern electronic screens announced that one could dial 712.432.8285 or 409.777.9010 to avail themselves of simultaneous translation. I didn’t call, but someone who did told me that the translation was not up to par.

At this point it became apparent that the thunderstorms which had been threatening all day were not going to happen. I think it is providential that many arrived late, after the rains had completed.

The Agudah recently started a program where school children learn Mishnayos and Gemorah in memory of the 1.5 million children that perished during Hitler YMS’s reign of terror. 16,000 children joined and learned 1.6 million Mishnayos and 6.6 million lines of Gemorah. A cross section of these young Bochurim were led up to the center stage as Baruch Levine in his very humble way bedazzled us with his soulful rendition of Vezakeinu.

Rabbi Gedaliah Weinberger, Chairman of the Daf Yomi Commission spoke. He said that in 1960 Rav Aharon Kotler asked a gathering of Rabbonim if anyone knows what was special about that particular day. No one knew. RAK then mentioned that it was the 5th Siyum Hashas. RGW noted how far we’ve come since then. [Everyone nowadays is aware of the significance of Aug1-13Av.] He mentioned the profound effect that RMS’s visage had on a little boy who he picked up during Hakofos.

It was most fitting then, that RAK’s grandson, Rav Aryeh Malkiel Kotler, Rosh Yeshiva of BMG Lakewood, largest Yeshiva in the USA, should be honored with saying the Hadran. RAMK had actually been inspired by the last Siyum HaShas in 2005, and was now completing the cycle for his first time. The band played VaYehi Bishurim Melech as all stood up to honor the momentous and joyous apex of the evening. RAMK spoke about Avrohom, noted that he was different from others before him who also recognized Hashem. He spoke a fluent but simple Yiddish, yet when he subsequently switched to the vernacular, he received sustained applause. He spoke about “foundations” such as the World Trade Center needs many stories below ground before they can build above…

Jay Schottenstein, philanthropist whose family has been overly supportive of spreading DY via the ArtScroll Shas, was honored with saying the Kaddish. We also saw a brief video clip of him talking about his family.

The band then played Siman Tov and the stadium was literally rocking. The dancing was a sight to behold. Unlike the recent Siyumim in MSG etc. there was room on the field for the beautiful dancing formations. It was a beautiful sight, a real Kiddush Hashem as the crowd swayed to and fro to the accompaniment of the Mezamrim singers/choir. The band then switched to Achas Shaalti and Ashrei Mi, Mah Ahavti Torasecha, Ki Hirbeisi, Veshavti Bvais Hashem… It was an awesome sight, as Bekhesha clad Yidden joined with baseball cap Jews - with the Torah as the unifying medium. My favorite moment was when the camera (the few times it panned the crowd) caught “Derek Jeter” (Yankees #2 T-Shirt) dancing.

When the music ceased, the crowd began a rendition of HaKadosh Baruch Hu – Anachnu Ohavim…the band then joined them in unison as the dancing continued once more.

Rabbi Yissachar Frand then dazzled the audience with his powerful oration. He spoke about the famous metaphor how the “Daf” (literally plank of wood, but in this case the Gemorah), saves one from drowning…not from the physical “sea”, but from the turbulence of our lives. He encouraged everyone to make a PLAN. Not to leave the arena without one. His superb vocabulary coupled with his fiery delivery was a highlight of the evening.

Rav Yitzchok Scheiner, Rosh Yeshiva of Kamenetz in Yerushalayim and grandson-in-law of Reb Boruch Ber was a surprise guest from Eretz Yisroel. He is 90 years old, as he revealed to the crowd. Some participants began singing Yomim al Yimei Melech Tosif, and the band quickly joined in. He opened with a letter that he read word by word which was penned the previous day by Rav Shteinman. He then trashed his pre-written speech, and spoke off the cuff. I think he was totally awed by Rav Frand’s Drosho. He said that this is the first time he’s heard RYF speak – “or anyone like him”. He noted that it says “Al SheAzvam Es Torasi…yet they WERE learning… so he explained that they didn’t have the “Bren”- fire-fervor in their learning. He continued that everyone should view Torah as if it were life itself. One should look at the closing of a Gemora as problematic. He said that all should view Torah as if one’s life depends on it. Everyone should strive to be better in learning.

He also spoke briefly about his relationship with Rav Elyashiv ZTL, He spoke how he was a Gadol in so many different aspects. He was a leader in Psak, in learning, in Yegiah, but in particular also in Midos. He spoke about RYSE’s patience. He once was bothered that he had to ask certain things over and over and felt he was a bother… He aksed RYSE how many times he should ask and the reply was “Ad Sheyetze HaSafek M’Libcha”.

We then saw another video “Heroes of the Daf”. Various Shiurim were shown from around the world and snippets of interviews were interspersed therein. One fellow noted that this was his 6th cycle of learning Daf HaYomi.

It was then noted that being that this is now the 13th cycle, 13 transforms us from underage to of-age. We are now Metzuveh V’Oseh…

Rav Yaakov Hillel, Rosh Yeshiva of Chevrat Ahavat Shalom began the 13th cycle. He spoke about the huge crowd and how such a Maamad helps us envision Maamad Har Sinai.

Rav Yisroel Meir Lau, Chief Rabbi of Tel Aviv noted the Nekamah against the Nazi’s that was realized tonight. They wanted V’Lo Yizacher Shem Yiroel Od… yet here we have 100,000 strong studying a book from 1,500 years ago. He said that we are the immortal nation because the Torah is eternal. He offered up some fantastic Gematrias, and clearly had Shas on the tip of his tongue as he dropped references to various places in Shas. He said that Zachor and Shachoach are different in Gematria by 101. He explained the Gemorah in Chagiga how it is not comparable one who learns 100 times to someone who learns 101. He also mentioned that Lekan, as in Ashrei Mi Sheba Lekan V’Talmudo B’Yodo…is someone who comes having learned something 101 times, as Gematria of Lekan is 101.

Chazzan Yitzchok Meir Helfgot mesmerized the audience with his Keil Malei Rachamim for the 6 million Kedoshim. Mr. Pinchos Huberfeld said the Kaddish. Shloimy Daskal wowed us with his Ani Maamin.

We were clearly now in quadruple overtime. The Sanz Klausenberger Rebbe spoke lengthy in Yiddish, then led the crowd in Kabbolas Ol Malchus Shamayim. Rav Ginzberg completed the program with Maariv. It was now 1:00 AM.

All in all, it was an amazing evening. Great weather, Kiddush Hashem size of crowd and Kiddush Hashem Midos. One security guard mentioned to a friend of mine to hold onto his ticket, as this was really a night to remember. I am sure that the regular security personnel were amazed at the orderliness of such a huge throng. The Siyum was a herculean effort of, by and for so many, and it really showed.

Thank you!

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Daf Yomi: A Pictorial History - David Avraham Mandelbaum

From Feldheim's website:

One of the most significant events in the Torah world in the past one hundred years was the adoption and implementation of the Daf Yomi learning program. This pictorial album lays out before the reader its entire history - how it began on Rosh Hashana of 1923 and its expansion throughout the Jewish world until the present day. This volume contains hundreds of pictures and rare documents that will bring the reader in touch with the Daf Yomi learners of yesteryear.

The story begins in pre-war Europe, continues through the Holocaust, documents the aftermath of that horrific period, following the trail of the Daf in the decades that have passed since then. It is possible to see a glimpse of the Hashgacha Pratis that guides the fate of our nation - for, even in the very worst of times for Klal Yisroel, there were thousands, even tens of thousands, of pages of Gemora that served as the rafts of salvation for the Jewish People in the midst of the raging tempest. Finally, in this album, the reader can absorb the words and the ideas put forth by the Gedolei Torah of the past few generations as they related to the Daf Yomi concept, and will become familiar, as well, with subsequent initiatives that are the offspring of the Daf Yomi.

I was very impressed with this beautiful work, which documents the trajectory of Daf Yomi since it's inception up until our day.

This book is very heavy on Rav Meir Shapiro, as R. David Avraham Mandelbaum has written many books that portray Rav Meir Shapiro and his famous Yeshiva Chachmei Lublin.

One thing I found puzzling is on page 110 RADM makes the claim that Kad Yasvin was composed by Rav Meir Shapiro in honor of the first Siyum Hashas. Complete in this book are the music sheets of Kad Yasvin. Hmm. I once asked Mississippi Fred to investigate the origins of the song, as there is much dispute. Perhaps this post will be the impetus for him to tackle this issue.

I still remember the first DY Siyum that I attended in the Felt Forum of Madison Square Garden in 1982. Less that 10,000 were in attendance. It is hard to imagine that merely 30 years later the venue is MetLife Stadium, with 90,000 plus.

Kein Yirbu!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Chailifeline Cancer Camp Concludes

Tuesday night, ChaiLifeline's Camp for pediatric Chronic illnesses came to Citifield and performed for an outside Crowd.

Chailifeline is one of the Charities that sincerely deserves our Contributions.

Imagine dealing with a Child who is sick Constantly. Not just a Common Cold.

Camp Simcha has four sessions every summer. Two weeks of girls, two weeks of boys, then 2 weeks of special (severely) sick girls and two weeks of (severely) sick boys.

Can one imagine the respite that parents of these Children receive yearly? Instead of dealing 365 days a year with pain, they are able to get a vacation themselves. Yet apparently, the most recent session was Curtailed 5 days early due to a few Campers Coming down with the flu.


Friday, July 20, 2012

Kings Keep Krias-shema Kosher

Berachos 9B

מאימתי קורין את שמע בשחרית משיכיר בין תכלת ללבן ר' אליעזר אומר בין תכלת לכרתי (וגומרה) עד הנץ החמה ר' יהושע אומר עד שלש שעות שכן דרך מלכים לעמוד בשלש שעות

In these dog days of summer, when many are away at camp and need not follow the rigorous schedule of Yeshiva, it is somewhat difficult to complete the Krias-Shma before three hours into the day.

In truth, it is somewhat difficult to get up after a late Thursday night Mishmor, or a long night of blogging, even during the year.

Which brings to mind the question as to why our Krias-Shema time-limits should be governed by Kingly waking habits? Yes, all Jewish people are regal, but can't a king wake when he wishes?

A recent blackout solved this mystery for me. When the lights go out, there is not much to do in the dark. Before the light bulb was invented, people probably went to bed at 6, 7, 8 or 9PM, depending on the time of year. People rose when the rooster crowed, at 5 or 6 or 7 AM.

Aside from kings, who could afford an abundance of tallow fat candles, everyone went to bed early and rose early in the morning. As soon as it was light outside, people tended to their work, which was limited to sun-shine hours. Only kings could afford the luxury of lazing around in their beds for three full hours after sunrise.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Help Hatzolah Homerun Heroes


What is being billed as the Event of the Summer, is a Benefit Base Ball Bonanza between Hatzolah and the NYPD.

The game takes place this coming Wednesday night at 6PM at MCU Park at Coney Island.

MCU Park overlooks the Atlantic Ocean, and the cool summer breeze, watching the sun slowly set over the horizon, along with the NYPD helicopter flyover are some of the added perks one receives when attending the game.

There are no assigned seats, as seats are secured on a first-come, first-served basis.

The proceeds go to support the ChevraGemach, and the NYPD Lieutenants Benevolent Association.

There will be Kosher food available. There are not that many Kosher events, that one can take the entire family locally in Brooklyn.

Additionally, the price is unbeatable. Tickets are normally 10$, which is quite cheap. Yet to fill the stadium, they are now running a special, where you get two seats for 10$. They even went further and are now offering for campers and their families 3 seats for ten dollars!

Based on previous years, the game should be a great one!
Finally, the Cyclones (local baseball team) will be offering a buy one, get one free sale for all ticket holders of the Hatzolah/NYPD game. Unbeatable deal. Call 917.538.0084 for more information.

Brooklyn's Best Build Bridges
Chevra Gemach

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Generation Gap Grows Geometrically

Growing up, I thought that I had seen it all.

The automobile had been invented, the radio, television, rail and air travel - Man had even walked the Moon - and after the invention of the computer and the Internet, I thought that there were no more mountains to conquer. Nothing left to invent with the exception perhaps of Man flying. No Generation Gap in my lifetime.

Yet the past Generation has seen so many scientific advances, it boggles the mind. Primary among them is perhaps the availability of the Mobile/Cell phone. Add to that the Geometric Proliferation of the Internet; Facebook, Twitter etc. Put that Internet access in everyone's pocket and you have a new Generation that is nothing like the old.

Interestingly enough, Rav Matisyahu Salomon in his Internet Asifa Speech was almost willing to write off an entire Generation - the 20-35 year olds. A real Generation Gap! Gasp!

Yet somehow we must adapt to the new reality. We must channel the technology to do our bidding, not be ruled by it. E-learning is just around the corner, Seforim may yet become extinct. If not for Shabbos, perhaps some day there really would be no more physical Ketzos's sold in America!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Mirrer Medical Miracle Marveled - (Rabbi Rafoel Shmuelevitz Shlita)

Modern Medicine has been making fantastic strides in curing disease with use of Stem Cells.

Rav Chaim Shmuelevitz ZTL served for many years as a Rosh Yeshiva in the Mirrer Yeshiva in Eretz Yisroel, and is famous for his intricate Shiurim.

His ethical discourses have been pubished as Sichos Musar, which was subsequently translated by Mesorah Artscroll publishers.

The apple does not fall far from the tree, and his son today serves in his stead in the Mirrer Yeshiva. Yet in recent years, his health has been failing due to ALS, otherwise known as Lou Gehrig's disease.

Rabbi Rafoel Shmuelevitz has been in the news recently for having this new treatment reverse the sickness.

Others have received the treatment, yet their progress has not been as complete. Perhaps the real cure has something to do with all the Tefilos/Tehillim offered on the Rosh Yeshiva's behalf.

Boruch Mechayeh Hameisim!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

'Entebbe' Evokes Ecstatic Euphoria (July 4 1976)

There are moments in a person's life where one is filled with feelings of Ecstacy and Euphoria. I list below several of these (not all were experienced first-hand), hoping my readers can add their own in the comments section.

1947-48. First and foremost is the UN's vote to give a piece of Eretz Yisroel to the Jewish People, which resulted in the creation of the State of Israel. I can imagine the feelings of those who were involved in the process, especially those who were Holocaust survivors and fought in the fledgling militias that eventually forced the British troops off the holy soil.

1967. The Six Day War. Enemies from all sides threatened to annihilate the Jewish State. In less than a week, the Israeli Army decimated their Air Forces and resolve. Yerushalayim was reunited and the Kotel was Biyadeinu once again after thousands of years of absence.

1969. USA Man on the Moon. Mankind was able to project some of their own through outer space and place their footprints on the Moon. A superior technology achievement, one which was all the more euphoric, as the USSR was poised to accomplish this feat first. The USA was able to get their feet there first.

1976. Israeli commandos commandeered huge planes to streak across the sky, land in the deserted desert country of Uganda, and spirit away their citizens who were hijacked to Entebbe by the PFLP. A supreme blow to terrorists everywhere, and a Euphoric birthday present to America, champion of Freedom, on their bicentennial.

1977. Menachem Begin wrested control from the Labor Party and became Prime Minister of Israel.

1981. Israeli bombing of Osirak, the Nuclear devolpment site of the Iraqi's. Not appreciated fully by the West until the Gulf War, a decade later. Although the UN cried about the "agression", many Western leaders (and secretly many Eastern ones) silently applauded the action. "Boys will be boys", is what then President Ronald Reagan is alleged to have said when learning of the attack.

1993. Rudy Guiliani winning the Mayorship of New York over David Dinkins. NYC was getting more and more decadent, as David Dinkins allowed the rioters in Crown Heights to "let of a little steam". RG brought pride back to NYC, implementing his sucessful "Quality of Life" program which removed petty lawbreakers from the streets before they became major lawbreakers.

Marriage. Birth of children. Celebrating milestones with family.

First blog. First blog post. First blog comment (Thanks Bray!).

Sunday, July 1, 2012

(Rabbi Yosef) Viener Vanquishes Virtual Viaduct

As readers of this blog know, my blogroll changes from time to time, with LH venemous vitriolic violators vanquished while others take their place.

I recently heard a Shiur on internet usage from Rabbi Yosef Viener from Monsey which makes very cogent arguments for a proper Internet policy.

He seems very down to earth, speaks a perfect English, and impressed me greatly with his speech which can be found on the newly blogrolled Reb Yaakov Astor blog.

I was going to highlight several clips, but it would be too lenghty for my normally short and to the point posts. Please visit the site and read the entire article. Or better yet, listen to the Shiur.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Bicycle Bolts Bedeck Brooklyn

Recently, the neighborhoods in Brooklyn have been the recipient of some new-fangled apparatus to lock one's bicycle. Very modern in look, one would confuse them at first for some new-age art.

I imagine that the city is thinking to the future, when the current meters, which are now used to lock bicycles, become extinct. Muni Meters are gradually replacing the old meters, which were perfect for attaching one's bike.

Trees are also "growing" in Brooklyn. The city is filling the sidewalks with young, sturdy saplings, hopefully to provide shade and fresh air to a city that has less and less greenery as time goes on.

Kudos to Mayor Mike.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

CubAN, CoreAN CANs CANned - Coca-Cola CompANy

This interesting tidbit was recently newsworthy.

Coca-Cola Announces  it Will Return to Myanmar After 60 Years...

Coca-Cola has grown from selling nine drinks a day in a single country in 1886 to distributing 1.8 billion beverages in more than 200 nations, according to data posted on its website. Myanmar, Cuba and North Korea are the only countries where Coca- Cola doesn’t operate, the company said yesterday. Coca-Cola says the 1971-vintage advertisement entitled “I’d Like to Buy the World a Coke” remains one of its most popular.

It seems that there are only 2 places left in the world where one can not enjoy a coke.  This reminds me of the oft repeated joke that one fellow travelled the world  and always found 2 things: Chabad and Coke.

It is interesting that Castro's Cuba and Korea's Kim are the last holdouts against the pervasive monopolizing "Capitalist Conglomerates".

Yet this is one case in particular where their ignoble intention nevertheless benefits their Complying Citizens. Giving them a healthier, Clearer Complexion.

Elsewhere in the news, Mayor Michael is looking to ban Coke's Calories.  Coffee's Caffeine may be next.

Monday, June 18, 2012

BSD. Blogger Bites Bullet (Hareidi and Proud)

UPDATED 2:30PM. I have removed some of the more macabre references. I think it may be somewhat creepy for live (former) bloggers to read of their "demise". Apologies if anyone was offended.

After 3 months of intense blogging, Chareidi and Proud has hung up his cleats. I am sorry to see him go. I have long advocated for Agudah or some other organization to hire a full time blogger to counter the negative blogs that attack them on a daily basis.

Such a job is not without pitfalls. When one grapples in the mud, one gets dirty. Fellow blogger BOF has made a career of debating the Bear in his own den. Yet no one knows whether exposing oneself to foreign ideas - what affect it has on one's soul.

Inevitably, the Agudah will one day have their own website, their own blog and their own bloggers. I am told the printing press was not received favorably, as it made it easy to publish Kefirah and disseminate it. Nor was the telephone or automobile received with open arms. Chadash Asur Min HaTorah!

Yes, each new technology has its challenges, and we must learn to channel them favorably.

HAP burst onto the blogging scene with a mission to counteract the daily venom spewed by various bloggers. I must say he admirably did a fine job. I did not necessarily agree with some of his "tone", yet he did not act alone, claiming his Rav supported him fully.

Yet after the Asifa, it became increasingly difficult to defend his Internet activity. It took great resolve nonetheless, to listen to his mentor and cease blogging cold turkey.

Whereas NotBrisk quit and was never heard from again, my dear friend BOF has retired several times and yet we were able to make the Brocha of Mechayeh HaMeisim on his return.

My solution for HAP is to have an organization hire him as their PR man. He can then blog using the Hetter of Parnassah.

Then I will be happy to make the Brocha Mechayeh "Hameisim" with Kavannah. Please come back!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

No! Noch Nisht! Nevermore!

Recently, one of the most intriguing bloggers posted a rendition of Poe's "The Raven" in Yiddish.

I posted the following comment there, but since OTML has moved on with a new post about Rav Yaakov Yosef ZTL, I'm afraid the comment will get buried and never see the light of day. For those who have had some smattering of a secular education, I share the following:


Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered weak and weary, Over many an online hebrewbooks volume of forgotten lore, While I nodded, trying to stay up, suddenly there came a popup, vying for my inattentive Kup, promising not to bore. `'Tis not a virus,' I muttered, `wondering what it's for- Only this, and nothing more.'

Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer, `Google,' said I, `or IE, truly your forgiveness I implore; But the fact is I was learning, and so gently you came whirling, And so faintly you came hurling, redirecting me to Bloggers store, That I scarce was sure I saw you' - here I clicked-could not ignore; - Darkness then, and nothing more!

Deep into that black screen peering, long I sat there wondering, fearing, Doubting, feeling fears no mortal ever dared to feel before; 'Cuz now my PC was broken, and the darkness gave no token, Now I was fully woken, How would I learn for evermore? This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the words, Al Gore! Merely this and nothing more.

Then I recalled that Al had created, the superhighway and even paved it, With routers and relays for my information to flow o'er; While jetting the world, using fuel, he made me feel like a fool, For using electricity for my tool - instead of having saved it. These thoughts crossed my mind as I set my computer on the floor. You shall be revived! and serve once more!

Now that I had time to waken, I tried a path that few had taken, The road less travelled seemed to beckon, my spirit began to soar; For I remembered Rabbi Reisman, lecturing as a Technical Wise-man, Flash drive booting is an option, when your computer works no more. Quick as a flash I ubuntued it, and it began to purr. Hebrewbooks shall rule once more!

And until this day I'm sitting, e-learning which is fitting. For a generation that is glued to gadgets and the itunes store. But on occasion, when I'm weak, I'll even sneak a little peak, At the best blogs of the week, posted by Rafi - just can't ignore. OnTheMainLine ranks up there, with the best there ever were. All must thank VP Al Gore.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Mostly Music's Meritorious Message

Mishpacha Magazine noted this past week that following the Asifa, Mostly Music has decided to remove their Facebook page.

It has been debated elsewhere if one really needs Facebook for their business.

I would say that I am so impressed with their Moral Machoa, that I would Davka buy My Music from them.

Many Mentions have been made over the years how those who observe Shabbos, not only do they not lose Money, but actually gain more in the long run.

May Many others follow suit!


Sunday, June 10, 2012

Fifteenhundred Flatbushers Fight Foe - Flatbush Asifa

I just returned from a very inspiring gathering which took place at Agudas Yisroel Bais Binyomin.

Several Flatbush Rabbonim got together to speak about the dangers of the Internet and what we can do about it.

This gathering was very different from the one 3 weeks ago at Citifield, in that the participants and speakers were on the same page. The speakers were noted Rabbonim from local Shuls in the community(aside from RMS); so aside from addressing the crowd in English, the Rabbonim were very aware of the local needs and challenges.

Women were invited, and overflowing attendance showed that this Asifa was warranted. No one was forced to buy a ticket (in fact the event was free), yet over 1,500 strong (I asked an officer outside how many people were there and he said "not less than 1,500") came to be inspired. And inspired we were.

I came early, approximately 30 minutes before the proceedings began and was surprised to see that almost all the seats in the Bais Medrash were filled. There was additional seating elsewhere in the building, in addition to many standees.

I was impressed that the program began within 5 minutes of the starting time, with several chapters of Tehillim read responsively.

Rabbi Avrohom Schorr, spoke about the auspicious date that was picked, Chaf Sivan, as that day is noted by Chazal as the start of preparations for Yom Kippur. RAS compared the fight against the Internet to the Milchama against Amalek. He said if people would understand that this Milchama is our Nisayon, they would attack it differently (i.e. they would be more forceful in ridding it from our midst). He cited 3 main problems with the Internet. Shmutz, Social issues and Waste of time. He told a story about Rabbi Uri Zohar who once took a 6 hour flight yet had no book or electronic gadget with him. This required him to think. This was the impetus for him to do Teshuva. RAS said that the Yetzer Hara wants us to be busy, so we don't have time to think and change our ways. RAS quoted a statistic that 80% of divorces now quote Facebook in the proceedings. He emphatically stated that Social Networking sites have no place in a Yiddish home.

I thought that RAS would be more fire and brimstone, but his heart to heart talk seemed to be devoured and appreciated by the participants.

Rabbi Yisroel Reisman spoke about the Leitzanim, and the naysayers. He noted that Daniel was 12 years old when he went into Golus, yet he and his friends made Takanos not to eat Bishul Akum, not to drink Goyishe keep their children from marrying Goyishe daughters. The Leitzanim and naysayers laughed at this, yet it was the L&N's that 60 years later went to Achashveiros's party...He noted that 2 twelve year old boys came to him and told him how easy it is to bypass their father's security (Update: in fact, it was these 2 twelve year old boys that inspired this Asifa). RYR then gave very practical instructions for the layman in how to secure the BIOS bootup, how to use secure passwords etc. He jokingly said not to use your own last name as a PW, but rather to use his! So apparently Reisman will now be the dafault PW on many Flatbush computers.

He then pointed out that we speak about filtering for our "kids", but kids is just a code-word for us, as everyone has a Yetzer Hara. He then suggested putting a screensaver with the words Shivisi Hashem LeNegdi Tamid - and said that the Shem Hashem should be spelled out.

Rav Moshe Tuvia Lieff spoke about Browsing. He said that no one would pass by a Cathedral or an Ashram and say "I'm just going in to browse". He said that WiFi would be more aptly called Wireless INfidelity. He said over a nice Drosho (from Rav Yonoson Eybeschutz) as to why it says "Asher Bachar Banu" when actually WE chose Hashem. He said over a Drosho from the Chasam Sofer how the Anshei Knesses HaGedolah were Mevatel the YHR for Avoda Zara, and blackened the eye of Arayos. Seems that AZ was done in groups and Tefillah was done then only Beyichidus. Forming a gathering for Tefillah was the only way to combat the YHR for AZ. Yet empty Tefillah causes the YHR to regain power.

He asked an interesting question, why we say Lo Sasuru Acharei Levavchem Vacharei Eynaychem...seems that the eye sees first, then the heart desires...He explained that 4 people could read the same newspaper, yet each person notices what interests him and is oblivious to the rest; one sees the sports, one sees the news, etc. so it is really the Lev that comes first, as the heart "sees" whatever it wants to see...

He mentioned Madison Squre Garden, and joked that that is the former site of the Siyum Hashas...He implored filter use. He said that one can walk 3 miles in the rain and keep dry so long as the umbrella is open, but as soon as you close the umbrella, you get wet.

Rabbi Matisyahu Salomon batted cleanup. He spoke about "Hakhel" how people must gather at times and be taught. He noted that today's gathering is an extension of the Citifield Asifa. He explained that the Posuk says "Kedoshim Tehiyu", not you should be but that you WILL BE. It is therefore a promise. Hashem will lead you where you want to go. Similar to the famous Rambam regarding a recalcitrant husband who doesn't want to give a GET, we force him until he WANTS to, but the point is that he really DOES want to give the GET. He said he is amazed that following the Asifa there are so many people who WANT to do the right thing. He said we should ignore the cynics.

RMTL then went through various guidelines that were printed in the handout.

1. Change our behaviour so that Internet use is limited to uses of practical necessity.

2. Totally avoid Internet for entertainment or social interaction.

3. Cease using Facebook, Twitter and other SN sites.

4. Filter all Internet access and protect filters

5. Filter smartphones.

This was followed with Kabalos Ol Malchus Shamayim and a spontaneous breakout of the song Tehei Hashaa Hazos Shas Rachamim V'Es Ratzon Milfanecha (Rav Meir Shapiro ZTL).

I was very impressed in how the Asifa started and finished on time. The speakers knew the crowd and tailored their speeches accordingly. Rabbi Mehlman from the FJJ was thanked for providing the advertising free in his newspaper. This Asifa was definitely a Kiddush Hashem and was very inspiring.

Locations of visitors to this page