Monday, December 29, 2008

Zos!

This is Zos Chanuka. The final day of Chanuka. There are plenty of maamarim and sichos about today, and you'd do well to look them up. I'd look them up myself, but I'm currently on a subway and therefore don't really have the necessary resources. But I wasn't planning on blogging about that anyway.

First of all, a massive mazel tov to two really (relatively) close friends of mine, both of whom were my shluchim when I was in yeshiva, Yossi Kagan and Shua Lustig. Do guys ever have really close friends, or is that reserved for girls? Anyway, mazel tov mazel tov, may you be zoche to build a bayis neeman b'yisrael. Also, I met a Dukes guy today, and when I told him that I meant to go to his brother's wedding last night but didn't he said that I could male up for it by blogging about it. Since there's not much I can say about an event I never attended (chabad.org news I'm not) let me just assume that a grand time was had by all.

The Rosh of LA, one of the better people currently living, always farbrengs for many hours on this day. All right, so the second year I was there he didn't but that's because he was in New York celebrating the wedding of his son. So that was a little disappointing, but at least I have the first year memories. We were still in the old zal, and the menora was still burning. It continued to do this for several days after, a true chanuka miracle! Actually it burned because we kept on refilling it, but I'm not here to write about people waking at 4:00 in the morning to keep a menora lit. Truth is, it was LA, so they probably hadn't gone to sleep yet. They were undoubtedly shteiging away until that hour. Or going to clubs. Whatever, it's all good.

Anyway, back to the farbie. I only remember two things the Rosh said, and I'm pretty certain that I've blogged one of them before, but seeing as I heard him say it as least six times I think I can give myself leave to repeat it.

As religious Jews we watch negel vasser every morning after we wake up from our undoubtedly chassisishe chalomos. As chassidim we're very careful to have a cup filled with water and a bowl to pour it into next to our beds so that immediately upon awakening following our recitation of the modeh ani prayer which is of course accompanied by some heibt of hamtelech we can lave though very same hantelech, though of course we're careful to wait a few seconds as per the Alter Rebbe's explicit instructions in his Shulchan Oruch which of course applies to every Jew great and small. Was that a glorious run-on sentence or what? I saw in Nshei Chabad Newsletter and family story time that you should prepare the whole shebang every time you go to sleep for an extended period of time, but this seems to be to be excessive. As the Friedriker Rebbe writes, anyone who is more frum than you is a fanatical nut, and anyone who's less frum is frie like the birds.
Anyway, the question becomes, what do you do with that unclean water? No Shulchan Oruch gives instructions, but our mothers have decreed that the only thing to do is to immediately pour that water out. Not like my roommate does it, outside the window onto the hapless souls struggling underneath but rather in a proper receptacle, such as your friendly local orthodox bathroom sink. Why do we do this? Because the water is impure.

The Rosh said that he searched many years for the source of this and was unable to find one. So why did he do it? Because when Jewish mothers have been saying things for many generations it's a good idea to listen.

Of course this came just a few days after I crashed a shiur gimmel farbrengen in his apartment when he wasn't quite singing this tune. It was the end of the Farbrengen, the Roshette was desperately trying to get us out, she had already turned the lights off, and I mentioned something about guilt to the glorious leader of YOEC. I said that my mother was a big fan if guilt, because it kept people frum. The truth is that in my recollection she never said anything like that, but I was trying to give my words an air of authenticity. Ironic, isn't it, that to give an air of authenticity I lied. Anyway, the Rosh turned on me as if I had said the worst thing in the world. Turns out that he doesn't believe in guilt as a motivator. It's too bad that I don't remember his exact words, which were much more colorful and impressed themselves upon me greatly.

If I was a really big chassid of his I could say that he had ruach hakodesh and knew that my words weren't coming from my mother, and therefore what he would later say wasn't a contradiction. I'm not such such a big chassid though. Heck, he's the master of Jewish mother guilt. Every yeshiva tries to inspire its students with it, but his is one of the best.

The second thing he said, and as I said I heard this from him several times at least, was to explain the difference between a child and an adult. We learn in the holy books that a baby is born with a yetzer hora, an evil inclination (personal satanic element!) and only gets his yetzer tov, his good inclination (a veritable piece of the living G-d) when he turns the ripe old age of thirteen. All right, I remember blogging this very recently. If I was lazy I'd tell y'all to go look it up for yourselves, but I'm on a NJ Transit train and don't really have anything better to do anyway. Besides, you're supposed to learn everything 100 times, and if you're working 101 times, so I'm sure you'll survive the experience.
It seems like the holy books don't know what they're talking about. Have you ever seen a baby? They're the cutesy things in the world, so innocent, so fragile, with neither sin nor double-parking infraction to mar their holiest of souls. Have you ever seen a thirteen year old? These children are the brattiest of the bratty, with more double-parking tickets than you can shake a stick at. So where exactly is this yetzer tov?

A baby thinks about one thing, and one thing only: himself. Hungry? cry. Sad? cry. Tired? cry. Kids are the same thing. They only think about what is best for them. In fact, they can only think of what is best for them. They don't have a yetzer tov. When you turn bar or bat mitzvah you suddenly get the ability to realize that it's not all about you. Obviously many people never get this, and they spend their whole lives focusing entirely on their own needs and wants. These people are self-centered, and though they might do some very good deeds they still don't get it. The goal is to realize that you are not all there is in the world.

What is the yetzer hora? Self-knowledge. What is the yetzer tov? Bittul. Nullification to a higher power. Realizing, but really realizing, that the entire world does not revolve around you. It's tough, it takes a lot of work. A lifetime's amount of tough work. But that's why you were put down here. So get cracking.

71 comments:

Mottel said...

I never knew you did time in the crucible that is LA! Though now it makes sense . . . perhaps I did know.
Who was the baker that year?

The Real Shliach said...

Where do you think I first met you? The two best years of my life were spent there. Yeah, your mother was the baker the first year, and elchonon shagalow the second.

Mottel said...

Really? My memory was that bad? Let's not mention that other baker.

The Real Shliach said...

You made a farbie in the downstairs classroom for your birthday. You served, I remember, pickles and those trader joe's nori snack things.
And yeah, he's kind of hard to forget, not necessarily in a good way.

fan of Rabbo Davidson said...

RE: children being pure and innocent vs. children being self-centered, read http://www.chabad.org/484213 by Rabbi Baruch Davidson, who incidentally is one of my favorite authors on Chabad.org. I wonder why stopped writing for them?

fan of Rabbo Davidson's shtuff said...

I hit enter instead of the apostrophe. My name was meant to be "fan of Rabbi Davidson's shtuff." Does it make a difference? Not really. Well maybe. If said rabbi ever stumbles across this blog, I don't want his head swelling too much. Relax, Rabbi. I only like your shtuff. You yourself, well I dunno.

Also, I don't want him thinking that I thought his title was spelled "rabbo."

LE7 said...

What's wrong with the second one? His wife's technically one of the milwaukee clan. At least I'm almost positive.

The Real Shliach said...

Second one what?

LE7 said...

Baker.

Cheerio said...

when were you guys in la? in years, please, and not references to the cooking staff.
1. heck yeah, guys can have really close friends. if you don't, it's your fault. or you just haven't met the right guy.
2. the new place is really nice. i remember being young enough to actually go into my brother's dorm room in la. i wish i could check out my brother's room there now. sounds pretty pimped out to me.
3. re runon sentence. wow. what?
4. what does "frie like the birds" mean exactly?
5.excellent depiction of infants vs thirteen year olds. although in CA, they can't get tickets until they're 15 and a half. is the law different in minnesota?
6. guilt is a terrible motivator. it's far too easy to just do what you want anyway and feel bad about it.
7. self knowledge? self knowledge is one of the most important parts of being able to change.

The Real Shliach said...

As far as I know she's Israeli. An there's nothing wrong with him, just his baking isn't so great.

LE7 said...

Bingo. If I began to explain how she's related to different people it would simultaneously put you to sleep and make you nauseated.

Cheerio said...

ooh, that sounds how i feel already!

e said...

putting-you-to-sleep descriptions are often boring. But one that makes one nauseous? That sounds interesting! How can this lady's family sitch make us nauseous?

LE7 said...

Nauseated.

LE7 said...

It doesn't really matter truthfully.

Cheerio said...

it's the whole jewography thing. makes many people want to gag.

e said...

He who only writes what matters truthfully shall little write on TRS.

LE7 said...

Wise words those were indeed.

The Real Shliach said...

Cheerio: I was in LA 04-06.
1. Yeah, I do have some really close friends, I'm just wondering if it's the same as girl's close friends.
2. Yes, it is a gorgeous dorm, much better than the concentration camp we were in before.
3. What didn't you understand?
4. Birds are free to fly around whenever and wherever.
5. How should I know? I'm not 15.
6. You don't like the way Judaism runs?
7. Is yeshus good? So obviously we're talking about two different things here.

Cheerio said...

ha! we were in la the same years!
1. how would we be able to tell?
2. now they just need to fix up the girls' dormitory...
3. why do we have to wait a few seconds?
4. gotcha.
6. when did you get your license?
7. judaism is not a guilt based religion. that's catholicism you're thinking of.
8. yup, as usual.

The Real Shliach said...

Cute.
1. It's one of those unanswerable questions.
2. Donate some money. After you've made some first, of course.
3. That's what it says in shulchan oruch to do.
6. I didn't. I got a permit at 16, but since then...
7. Not the Judaism that's preached in yeshiva.
8. Excellent.

Cheerio said...

kinda spooky actually.
i spent a few shabbosim on that side of town over the years. we might have crossed paths and don't even know it!

The Real Shliach said...

Might have. You ever ate at ragorodskys, or however they spell their name? I used to go there sometimes with rafaelson.

Cheerio said...

nah. i was roommates with their daughter mindle in sem, but she went to bais yaakov, so...
i used to spend shabbos at the shapiro's though! we'd eat there by night and have to sneak in and out by day because they had boys for lunch.

The Real Shliach said...

Wow. I lived there shabbos day.

Cheerio said...

no freakin' way. i told you this would be spooky.

Dovid said...

"The Rosh said that he searched many years for the source of this and was unable to find one."
Do you mean the source for not pouring it out the window b/c its impure?
I think SA Harav 4:9 (M'Kamah) says that very clearly.

The Real Shliach said...

Cheerio: sorry I didn't get back to you earlier, I didn't realize you had commented back. And yes, the times they are a strangin.

Dovid: a. Welcome! B. I'll have to look that up. Hey, you're in LA, no? Go ask the Rosh, and report back to us here at TRS.

Cheerio said...

no probs.
the lubavitch world is really too, too small. i love it, but it's a little frightening.

Dovid said...

Haha, will do.

The Real Shliach said...

I looked up that Halacha, and I think that the rosh was saying that nowhere does it demand the immediate removal of the water.
Also, do I get some info on you?

Dovid said...

What do you want to know?
I'm a bochur based in LA, but away attending medical school, and currently spending winter break in LA. My friends don't have off and I have some time on my hands (that's where your interesting blog comes in).

Dovid said...

Oh, and after I wash, I always leave the water there next to my bed.

The Real Shliach said...

I'm honored to be your winter entertainment.

You're gonna burn! (As the Rosh would say)

Anonymous said...

dear trs
i remember the Rosh saying that the marsha says that the reason we do it is because thats what the jewish mothers have taught for generations and we shouldnt dare change that.
did you say a point of what the rosh was trying to say i didnt get it:(
why no picks
big fan

Anonymous said...

if cheerio spent time in rabbi shaps house he must be drenched in shapiro wisdom.
maybe you can share it with all of us
big fan

Anonymous said...

dear trs
its super not cool to say not nice things on the internet about people nomatter how bad thier cooking talents are
im sure he wont be tickled if he falls upon this :(
lets be nice
where did you get the frii like a bird from?
big fan

The Real Shliach said...

Big Fan-That is correct, you were at the Farbie too. I believe that the point was simply that-there are things which we do not understand, we only do them because we are told to.
Pictures? Hopefully Motzei Shabbos. You liked the one from last week?
Yes, she probably is drenched in Shapiro wisdom. I will ask her to share it.
You are correct, it was not very nice. I will try to do better in the future.
I believe the saying comes from Rabbi Mottel Friedman, though it could be that he took it from someone else.

Cheerio said...

more drenched in she-Shapiro wisdom... the rabbi didn't really say much to us girlies. but the Mrs. is one of the best teachers i've had (a rare thing to be had in BCHS).

The Real Shliach said...

I'm a big fan of Mrs. Shapiro too. She makes excellent green beans, and told me to call her when I get engaged so that she could advice me regarding my color tie at the L'chaim.

Cheerio said...

that sounds like the Mrs. ;)

The Real Shliach said...

Of course, her husband didn't even wear one by their wedding.

Cheerio said...

just looked at the comments again, and wondered: mottel, why exactly do you term LA a "crucible"?

The Real Shliach said...

What else do you think it is?

"a severe, searching test or trial."

Cheerio said...

not arguing the description - just looking for details as to what makes it such, being as both male siblings have/are passed through this institution.

The Real Shliach said...

You got this incredible pressure and heat with the teachers, and some guys turn out incredible, while the dross spends the rest of their life complaining that it ruined them.

Cheerio said...

is that every yeshiva, or specifically, LA?

The Real Shliach said...

Some are better than others, but generally, yeah, the ideal Yeshiva is high pressure.

Cheerio said...

so how's that worked out for you? (or should the answer be obvious... ;)

The Real Shliach said...

I love LA.

The Real Shliach said...

YOEC, that is.

Cheerio said...

i remember when my brother went there and they called it "Why Oh Ee Ce". then when i went to high school, it had become "Yoh Eck".

Cheerio said...

and by that differentiation, do i take it to mean that you DON'T love LA?

The Real Shliach said...

By who?
By us it was always the former.

The Real Shliach said...

Yeah, it's not my favorite place in the world. By a long shot.

Cheerio said...

the girls, i guess. i don't know how or why it happened. it's just what was. the former version will always be etched in my brain because of this joke tape my brother's friends made, with a fake radio station that used the former as its moniker.

Cheerio said...

no? because...? be descriptive. or at least try your best. cuz you're that kind of guy.

The Real Shliach said...

Cute.

The Real Shliach said...

Fine, give me a sec or two.

Cheerio said...

i know, awww, and all that.
so why didn't you like LA? for me, it was the smog, and the lack of quality public transportation.

The Real Shliach said...

It's too big for me. I'm a midwesterner. The weather was nice though, even I must admit.

Cheerio said...

yeah, but you seem to enjoy NY just fine...

The Real Shliach said...

I have a lot more freedom here. And I'm only here on weekends, it's different.

Cheerio said...

every weekend in CH?

The Real Shliach said...

Since I came to Motown, yeah.

Cheerio said...

why, Motown not exciting enough for you?

Cheerio said...

i mean, esp. on a short Shabbos, you never wanna just chill?

The Real Shliach said...

A. No, it's not
B. The food is terrible on Shabbos
C. My family likes to see me.

Cheerio said...

a. isn't that good every once in a while?
b. it's called finding the wives who cook well and eating out.
c. every week? wow, they really love you. or the babysitting service you provide.
(how much family do you have in CH anyway?)

The Real Shliach said...

a: Even when it is, there's always some reason to come in. For example, I was planning on being there this week and the next two weeks in order to study, but forces my control conspired to prevent that. For example, this week I had that wedding and 2 lchaims, next week is the lipa concert, and after that my sister and her fam from Denver are coming in.
B. Difficult in Motown.
C. They like me. And my babysitting.
One sis, one bro-in-law, two nieces.