Thursday, December 25, 2008

Nshei shtuff

One of the great things about having a soapbox to stand on is that when I get mad at a letter writer in a magazine, I don't have to hope and pray that my response gets published. That's right, it's time for another exciting adventure of, "Bash the Nshei!" Rishe Deitsch is in fact innocent this time. Her editorial was quite cute, especially the part where she writes:

"My productivity earned me this email back from my overling.
Overling: Are you feeling Okay?"

Overling! She uses obscure and brilliant words! A woman after my own heart! Besides, she obviously enjoyed writing her editorial. As a writer (snort), I can tell these things. And it took all of ten minutes, three hours after the deadline had passed. Anyone should be able to tell that.
No, my problem with this issue of the Nshei Chabad Newsletter is with another facet entirely. You see, there is a gorgeous picture on the front cover, taken by my good friend Allen Schumeister (no relation). Unfortunately, that picture came out really grainy. I'm sorry, but this is 5769, there's simply no excuse for having grain pictures. At the very least, there is a thing called Photoshop.
The truth is though, this quibble was minor compared to the one which fully consumed me enough to actually write a letter to the editor. Some women/girl named Shoshanna Whitman wrote a letter to the editor which got my blood boiling. I'll quote her entire letter because A. you'll understand what I'm getting at, and B. it'll take up lots of Google's space. Here goes:

Rabbi Aaron Gancz writes in the Tishrei issue, Chinuch Section (page 73): "...there are situations where only love and chesed are called for. For example, a Jew walks into my Chabad House. At that point, it is not my place to show strength and discipline. All I can do, all I should do, is to offer him Torah and mitzvos (and cholent) with as much love as I can muster. I must show him the beauty of Torah. At that moment, I am not his teacher, his rov, or his father."
This could be misconstrued, and that is why I am writing. There are, unfortunately, some Chabad houses that use this rationale ("I am not their father or their rov") and do not even offer Torah and mitzvos. They offer ONLY cholent! I am not kidding!
I was at a Chabad House recently on a Friday night. There was ZERO Kabbolas Shabbos, not even L'choh Dodi, Shema, and Olainu! The rabbi did make kiddush and whoever felt like it could wash. The food was delicious and the crowd was big, the singing was lebedik and frailich, and everyone had a great time, but...? No Davening at all? True, if you have a Chabad house you are not their father or their rov, but they are counting on you like a child counts on a parent to provide genuine Torah and mitzvos, not just cholent. I am sure Rabbi Gancz did not mean to imply that that would be okay, even in a Chabad house.
Fortunately, I have been in literally hundreds of Chabad houses in my life, and I have only experienced a dearth of Yiddishkeit so extreme that one time.

Rabbi Gancz responds:
Thank you for bringing this to the attention of the reader. Of course, I did not mean to imply that it was okay to offer anything less than the full undiluted truth of Torah. The only question is I raised was regarding the method: whether to give it through discipline, or through ahavoh and chesed.
_____________
You know what? This woman totally missed the boat. Who the heck is she to criticize this shliach? Does she know where he's coming from, where his community is coming from? Maybe he tried having a minyan, and it failed? Maybe this is the only Friday night format that works? Aren't we always taught to judge favorably? All she does here, after acknowledging how much good this guy is doing, is to bash him. Almost like I'm bashing here now. Seriously, it's sick. Who does she think she is, criticizing the Rebbe's shluchim like that?
Anyway, that just really got me sick. Sorry.

Meanwhile in another part of the issue, Rabbi Mottel Friedman turned last year's nightly rants to yours truly into an excellent article about the evils of the internet. And you know, I respect him for it. Because when he realized this, and decided to do something about it, he did. He cut down majorly on his internet use. Seriously, he did. From a very lot of hours a day to a very few hours a day. That's really cool. I respect him for that.
Sure, I also should. And you know what? I have. It's none of your business, but it happened. You know, if you farbreng with the goal of changing other people you'll never succeed. A farbrengen is when a guy talks to himself, and other people listen in. Even when he talks about someone else it's only because he's embarrassed. When you farbreng in this manner, then you have a positive impact on people's lives. When you look at this blog and think, "Wow, that's inspiring, this TRS guy is really something", you should know a couple of things: 1. you're quite correct, and 2. I'm really talking to myself. All these farbies I attend? They're meant for me. I'm just sharing the love with y'all, not because I think you need it, but because I know I need it.

Moving right along, there has recently been a movement among some of my fellow bloggers to write family stories. I'm embarrassed to say that I can't think of any. Really, I can't. This is pathetic. Where is my family history, and why don't I know it?

Important Correction:
The editorial in the Nshei was not written by Rishe, but rather by Nechama Ozick. My bad.

57 comments:

LE7 said...

Maybe that is why I like your farbrengen posts so much.

Re. Internet use - Interesting. I used to blame facebook, now I blame blogger. Maybe I should do something about this?

Also, if you're bothered by the fact you don't know any of your family history, then ask your family. (That would be the most logical route I believe).

LE7 said...

Also since I forgot to subscribe, I think you should know that I like when there is kishke in the cholent.

The Real Shliach said...

Me and my family, we're on a need to know relationship. As in, there's not much there. Maybe because mostly they're not frum, or because we live so far apart. It saddens me, though not enough to do anything about it of course.

The Real Shliach said...

Yeah, kishke rocks.

Nemo said...

Oh please, this Shliach is a crackpot. No one comes to Chabad JUST for food. The food really never is that good. This chick is right ... if the Shliach had any balls, he's make a full on Minyan (even without ten men).

LE7 said...

Ask your 'rents. ('Rents used to be a very 'in' phrase during my livejournal days).

The Real Shliach said...

Nemo: You're just surmising. You have no idea what the facts on the ground are.

Elisheva: Yes. Good idea. As R' Mendel Futerfas would say, "I'll try=kushen tuchus".

Nemo said...

Bullshit ... I'm sick of these loser Shluchim. If they can't get services going, what the hell are they doing? Serving kosher food?

The Real Shliach said...

Is there something wrong with serving kosher food? Back in the day, most shluchim didn't see opening up a Shul to be their job. Old man Raichik never had a Shul. Neither does Rabbi Moshe Feller. Or Rabbi Herson. Their job is to bring their fellow Jews closer to their father in heaven, not to make a minyan.

Nemo said...

That's because they were all operating in existing Jewish communities. There is no mivtza minyan per se, but it's sad that shluchim underestimate their charges and assume that there's no point in making a minyan. If people were just looking for a meal, I promise you that for $15 they can do a lot better than the watery chicken soup that shluchim are serving.

The Real Shliach said...

Again, how do you know what the situation is? Maybe he tried, and came to realize that this was what worked best?
Listen, I'm not saying that shluchim are perfect, because we all know that not to be true, but rather that judging someone based on one Shabbos is impossible.

Nemo said...

Dude, this wasn't a criticism of the one Shliach, this goes out to all shluchim who don't do very many Jewish rituals or learning because they don't want to impose, seem pushy or be like Aish who promise to have you in a black hat and your kids enrolled in Jewish day schools.

The Real Shliach said...

Funny, normally I'm the one criticizing Lubavitch, and now I have to defend it.

The Real Shliach said...

It's very easy to say, "All these Shluchim should be doing this or that", but then you break it down, look at each individual Shliach, and you understand that generalizing just doesn't cut it. Each guy has his own problems.

Farbrengen said...

BS"D

I liked the second-to-last paragraph. It made you seem "real", it was by far the greatest glimpse into your psyche that I have seen as of yet. Impressive.

Regarding Shluchim, there is lots to be said... I don't even know where to begin.

But for the record, N'shei is awesome. It's still in the past in regards to many things, but I still love it.
Besides, they published my article-it made it to the middle page, it was really exciting :)

Crawling Axe said...

There are two levels. The first level is: each shliach is exactly where he is supposed to be by revealed hashgacha protis. So, don’t criticize. He is doing his best, he is doing exactly the appropriate thing, etc. The second level is bechira: yeah, but he could do better. This is what the Rebbe would say. To some more than to others.

The moment you become comfortable being who you are, you’re not doing your job. I know shluchim who have 100 people waiting for the kiddush and dinner in the main room and they have eight people in the shull for kabbolos Shabbos. And I know shluchim who stop the davening in the middle of psukei d’zimra in the middle of a snow storm, during vacation and leave to look for three more people for a minyan, so they can say Borchu.

You could argue the the second case does this because he knows people will tolerate it, but I can assure you: this guy doesn’t give a damn what people will tolerate. He has one job: he is the Rebbe’s shliach and chossid. And he just plows forward with that job like a tank, like Moishe Rabbeinu going into the sea.

The Real Shliach said...

Farbrengen: Which second paragraph?

Crawling Axe: It is what it is.

Cheerio said...

nshei bugs the heck out me. speaking of family stories - why do they have so many family stories? i highly doubt that one of OUR family stories could make it in there.
although fab girl's story was pretty cool...

The Real Shliach said...

You don't like the Nshei? I'm a big fan!
The reason they have so many family stories is because it A. makes it easier to take up space, and B. they have to keep the old Lubavs happy.

Which article did fab gal write?

LE7 said...

Yeah I like Farbie/FG's story.

But too many family stories.

They should publish my family stories.

The Real Shliach said...

Write them up, I'm sure, if they're appropriate, that they'll publish them.

LE7 said...

I don't think we can tell you because it was a family story.

LE7 said...

Hmm maybe. Mine don't have a real point.

The Real Shliach said...

OK.

Then they shouldn't be in there. Of course, by that standard, other stories also shouldn't be...

LE7 said...

That is why I'm not writing them up.

Farbrengen said...

BS"D
LE7 and Cheerio- I'm glad you enjoyed my stories :)
TRS- You would have found some unfounded reason to call it mushy anyways, so no reason to tell you about it...

The Real Shliach said...

A. You didn't write which paragraph was so revealing. I'm still waiting in suspense.
B. There's good mushy and bad mushy. Nshei generally manages to have decent mushy.

Farbrengen said...

BS"D
The second to last paragraph, where you wrote how Farbrengen's are for you. Where you have changed etc. I liked that. It made you real. It let us, the readers see you as a work in progress, as a human being with a growing change and practical inspiration.
Also,I love that you share it with us.

Anywho, my story was published nearly two years ago, I doubt you would remember it in any case...

The Real Shliach said...

Yeah, I'm a real person. I'm not perfect. I try to do the right thing. Sometimes.
As you know, I'm not a big fan of introspective pieces that lay bare my soul, but sometimes, I suppose, they can be useful.

That's what, ten issues ago? I'd probably remember it.

Farbrengen said...

BS"D
There's something very comforting and rather enlightening when a bochur is willing to bare an introspective piece of writing.
I appreciate introspective writing, it opens my eyes and helps me reflect on where and who I am...

The Real Shliach said...

You like introspective? I'll tell you what. In exchange for dating posts, I'll write you a nice introspective post tonight. Even if it kills me, and makes me into a laughingstock.

Farbrengen said...

BS"D
At first I thought that you were being so caring for writing something I would appreciate despite it having a negative consequence on your blogging appearence.
Then I realized that it probably will give you an awesome amount of varying and passionate comments.
So it ends up being a win-win situation doesn't it?

Okay, I'll b'n write another Shidduch post soon...

The Real Shliach said...

Yes, a bunch of passionate comments cursing me out...oh, the joy.

Very good.

Farbrengen said...

BS"D
I'm glad you're also excited.

The Real Shliach said...

Woohoo!

Farbrengen said...

BS"D
Nu? I'm waiting...

The Real Shliach said...

I'm working on it. You think it's so easy to blog? Let me tel you how it works:
Step 1: Write a line
2. respond to a comment
3. try and think what to write next
4. get a drink
5. read an article
6. write a line
7. go to the bathroom
8. erase both lines
9. read an article
10. write a line

You get what I'm saying? Have a little patience, and I promise a post within three hours.

Farbrengen said...

BS"D
Once again, proof as to why I do not officially blog.
Then again, a great deal of your writing is quite productive and inspiring, so perhaps it's all worth it (as that fellow from S.A. proved...)

The Real Shliach said...

I sure hope it's worth it. I spend an average of four hours a day on it.

e said...

you really spend four hours a day on this? does that also include the time you spend you commenting endlessly?

The Real Shliach said...

Yeah, including comments. When I have a computer, then it takes me two/three hours to do the actual writing.

Farbrengen said...

BS"D
Speaking of comments, I can't stand the way you have to comment on this... I like when comments are their on screen that pops up.
But that's just my personal preference....

The Real Shliach said...

You want I should change this? It didn't accomplish what I wanted, so I don't mind going back.

LE7 said...

Yeah, that's why I prefer pop-ups. They load faster.

Farbrengen said...

BS"D
Yes, please do, it's really annoying actually.

The Real Shliach said...

Your wish is my command.

Farbrengen said...

BS"D
Thanks, this is much better.

The Real Shliach said...

It's my pleasure. BTW, why doesn't Elisheva do this too?

LE7 said...

I never changed mine.

The Real Shliach said...

You don't have pop-ups. Go change it.

LE7 said...

I do have pop-ups.

Farbrengen said...

BS"D
Yes she does, and it's great.

The Real Shliach said...

Not by me you don't.

LE7 said...

Yes I do. If you go to my actual blog page and click on post a comment, it comes up as a pop-up.

The Real Shliach said...

Yes, I suppose that's true. Question is, how do you get a "post comment" link in your emails? I can't figure out how to enable that.

Cheerio said...

i remember when trs used to brag about his ability to bang out an article in mere minutes... how times have changed!

The Real Shliach said...

Give me a topic and I can, but otherwise? In fact, I just got a topic for tonight's post, but all this commenting will prevent that from happening anytime soon.