Monday, February 27, 2012

HebrewBooks Heals Harmful Habit

One of my favorite columns in the Mishpacha magazine is the LifeLines. Readers write how they overcame various obstacles. I suppose the idea is that others should learn from these vignettes and apply the methods used by the protagonist in order to solve similar problems in their own lives.

A recent column discussed one Kollel fellow's story depicting the pros and cons of asking up front for many years of support. The young man realizes that his fellow classmates who were top in the class and commanded large packages invariably ended up in the working world, while some who were not so demanding (he included) were still in Yeshiva.

This past week, though, had a very interesting story whereby the husband was an avid Seforim collector, buying Seforim which he couldn't really afford, were rarely if ever used, and were causing Shalom Bayis problems as his apartment wasn't sufficiently ample to provide proper shelving.

Eventually the problem grew to the extreme where the wife told him it was either her or the Seforim. One of them would need to go.

The husband made the correct choice.

Funny, how all of this could have been avoided if she would only have bought him a computer with Otzar HaSeforim, or better yet, an internet connection to!

MiShenichnas Adar Marbim B'Simcha!!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Dialogue: Winter 5772/2011-12 Review

Dialogue Volume I Review

The second volume of Dialogue has arrived. Below is my review:

Rabbi Avi Shafran penned the opening article, When Tzedek Isn't regarding the new Magen Tzedek initiative. This essay reminds me of the classic Jewish Observer style of showing Hashkafically what is wrong with the various other denominations of Judaism. Well written, well argumented and succinct.

Dr. Daniel Berman, doctor of infectious diseases, discusses the Metzitza bePeh controversy. Dr. Berman explains the rationale for continuing the practice of MBP in light of the possible transfer of Herpes from the Mohel to the baby. His primary argument is that with all available precautions, the likelihood of infection is so minute, that it appears that there may be an ulterior motive behind the Health Department's recommendation against the practice. He points to recent attempts in San Francisco to ban Bris Milah.

Yoram Bogacz has a fascinating piece Experience, Heredity and Yaakov Avinu's Sheep. He discusses the latest in scientific genetic theory and the effect that external factors can have on offspring. Well footnoted.

"Before We Call Out to You, Answer us" is the title of an informative article on The Essence of Prayer by Rabbi Menachem Zupnick.

Rabbi Eliyahu Wolf adds an Halachik justification for reviving the Neglected Prayer for Birkas Kohanim - Ribono Shel Olam - While the Kohanim Chant.

Pseudonymous B. D. Da'ehu rounds out the volume with an intriguing short story Reb Zeeshe the Sandlor that lends a Mussardik aspect to the varied Dialogue for Torah Issues & Ideas.

Last but not least is the Letters to the Editor, with some interesting give and take on the topics from Volume I.

I found the current volume to be thought provoking and informative. Magen Tzedek is a timely topic and RAS does a fine job explaining why one would oppose an otherwise meaningful project. Dr. Berman likewise eloquently spells out why there is so much opposition to MBP. YB's article on genetics is very interesting and appropriate for the current science/Torah debate. Rabbi Zupnick adds much with his Hashkafic/Davening essay, and Rabbi Wolf provides cogent proofs for reviving the RSO prayer.

I found it somewhat puzzling why they included the short story. I found the volume to be too short - even shorter than volume I. Considering that they turned down R. Broyde's response to Rav Ifrah and Rav Wiener, I truly wonder why the entire publication was only 94 pages. It also bothered me why they didn't change the colors of the jacket. The same drab color was used for volume I, unlike Tradition or Hakirah which vary their covers. I also found a typo on page 42. Although I only found one in the entire volume, I think that in this day and age it is neglectful to let this slip through.

Overall I was impressed with the articles. I wish them Hatzlocho for future volumes, yet I would like to see more content. Then my heart will be content.

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

Thursday, February 16, 2012

DafYomi Dignifies Dream Destination

When Rav Meir Shapiro first proposed the idea (At the first Agudah conference in 1923) that Jews all over the world should learn the same page of Talmud daily, completing the 2711 pages in approximately 7.5 years, his dream quickly became reality.

Yet nobody could possibly have dreamed that almost a century later, the Siyum celebration will take place in a destination which is the antithesis of all that Daf Yomi stands for - MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford NJ.

MetLife stadium is brand new, and is home for the metropolitan football teams, among them the New York Giants, this year's Superbowl champions.

This state-of-the-art arena has seating for 82,566 fans. It is the newest and most expensive of all NFL stadiums, and the DafYomi commission plans to seat over 90,000 individuals within.

Rabbonim and Maggidei Shiur will be afforded preferred seating. Women will comprise about 25% of the seats. Additionally, a Mechitza will separate between the men and women.

According to Wikipedia, Twenty giant high-definition-ready light emitting diode (LED) pylons display videos of the action. The pylons measure approximately 54 feet high by 20 feet wide. Inside, four 30 feet by 116 feet video displays from Daktronics, which incorporate high definition video technology, hang from each corner of the upper deck. This will enable just about anyone to follow the program, even from the cheapest seats.

Seats range from 18$ to 1000$, with the additional seating available on the field itself.

Daf Yomi celebrations have increased exponentially for the last few cycles. In 1975 there were only 1200 participants at the Manhattan Center. I was in attendance in 1982 when the Felt Forum was host to 5500 attendees. 1990 saw the Siyum in Madison Square Garden, and I joined 20,000 others along with many senior Roshei Yeshiva of the past generation. The highlight of the evening was the Maariv Tefillah, where the gentile ushers marvelled how 20,000 people could be totally silent during the Amidah.

1997 began the era of hook-ups, and the Nassau Coliseum joined MSG for a joint celebration. The most recent Siyum took place in 2005 at MSG and the Continental Airlines Arena, along with other sites for a total of 100,000 participants.

Although August 1st seems like a long time away, it will be here before you know it. Tickets are now on sale, so call the Agudah at (212) 797-9000 or Fax (646) 254-1610 or email or call (877) SIYUM12. I assume this will be a sellout, and it will not be easy to find tickets when the summer rolls around.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Ticker-Tape Tuesday Tabs Treasury

So it seems like the NY Giants were victorious, either because of, or despite of, prayer.

In any event, modern society deems athletic victors worthy of a parade down the Canyon-of-Heroes.

Why those who win football games are granted hero status, while war veterans are denied the same honor, is a mystery that escapes me. Yet if one can peer through the confetti snowed down upon the SuperBowl Champions, if one can tread through the garbage strewn streets of Lower Manhattan, one can perhaps find a silver lining meaning to this madness.

According to the numbers crunchers, NY will actually make money for the treasury. An estimated 500,000 to 1 million fans will line the parade route, spending an average 23 dollars each.

So after all is said and done, NYC will be laughing all the way to the bank.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Does Davening Determine Dynasties?

Back in the 1980's, I was told that the local Shul made a MiSheberach for their football team the Shabbos preceding the Superbowl. I suppose it was the sacrilege of this action that contributed to their defeat a day later.

But this has been on my mind recently when I wondered whether fans' Davening actually helps or hinders the outcome on the gridiron, in the arena or on the diamond.

According to some Hashkafically, no blade of grass grows without divine intervention. So one can argue that prayer may be a factor in deciding a positive outcome. Just ask Tim Tebow (although it seems that prayer is not the only factor, considering he will not be in the big game).

When you think of sports dynasties, one conjures up images of baseball's New York Yankees, perhaps The Boston Red Sox. Basketball's LA Lakers and Boston Celtics. Football's Pittsburgh Steelers, San Francisco's Forty Niners and others.

The common denominator that one notices is that the cities that boast winning sports teams coincidentally maintain large Jewish populations. New York, Los Angeles, Boston (New England) etc.

One can therefore rightfully make the argument that prayer is a prelude to victory.

Yet the conundrum remains as to what happens when NY/NJ meets up with New England. Some say that the battle will take place on the Christian day of rest, but one can argue that the real battle takes place a day earlier, on the Jewish Day of Rest - at the Bimah.

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