Friday, November 27, 2009

At least it was warm

You know what happens when you listen to your mashpia? I'll tell you what happens: You end up looking like a complete dork for wearing your kapote on Yud Kislev. "Why is this?" you ask. Because there's a total of four other people wearing Kapotes in 770, and two of them look like they haven't used their brains in four decades.

You know, I don't mind being holier than thou, but there comes a point where it looks more like you're out of your mind than being holy. Think about it-it's really holy to learn chassidus for six hours and then daven, but if you're putting on Rabbeinu Tam Tefillin during Rabbeinu Tam Shekia? No one thinks you're holy, they just think you're nuts.

In summation: just because you're mashpia wears a kapote on Yud Kislev in yeshiva, where no one else is wearing one anyway and it looks cool, doesn't mean you should.

In other news, N G asked me to mention him and his blog. I agreed, but only if I could savage it, because you know, I don't just give out links for free. Seriously, I don't. So I was going to ridicule someone he mentioned this week, R' Shimshon Ostropolier, but it turns out he's a holy dude, so I couldn't do that. This guy, Rabbi Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld, on the other hand, looks like he could be fun...

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Redeem thyself

Tonight is Tes Kislev, which leads into Yud Kislev, which is the day I wrote a cute post a couple years ago. Some things change over time, and something don't... (read the comments in that post).

Have you ever realized that truth is non-negotiable? It just is. If you don't like it then that's fine, but you can't escape it. Why do I bring this up? Probably because I couldn't remember what I really wanted to write. Ah, now it's all coming back. Last night we had a Farbrengen for the auspicious day of Yud Kislev, the day that the Mitteler Rebbe was freed from jail. Though Shillibear attended he didn't say anything, leaving the inspirational shtuff to the Shluchim of YHSTC. Oh, in case you're wondering, the reason I try to avoid the word "Stuff" is because my third grade teacher, Mrs. Ring, would always tell my class that "stuff" is what you put in turkeys, and for every other situation you should be a bit more specific. Anyway, I talked about the Mitteler Rebbe. He really made things very easy for us. Both of his important days are right next to each other, so we can spend just 48 hours and then forget about him for the rest of the year.

Shillibear liked this. At least, I think he did. He laughed. Point is, we've got this incredible Man of G-d, and no one cares in he least. His father, the Alter Rebbe, said that if you would cut him no blood would would flow it, but rather Chassidus. When he was 14, and ready to get married, he had many proposals, and when they asked him which he wanted he said, "whichever one is ready to get married the fastest, because I want to hear a Maamar from my father."

Do you realize what this means? Here's a guy whose whole existence was dedicated to the word of G-d. Simply incredible.

Monday, November 23, 2009

You can't judge art!

A blogger recently blogged about how much they liked a certain song (MBD's Moshiach). I left one of those comments that say "I'm only leaving this comment to subscribe to comments from other people who actually have something intelligent to say but I'm not so gauche as to do it with the word 'subscribing' so I came up with something inane to take its place" though not necessarily in those words. Be that as it may (and it may well be), about thirteen seconds after I left that comment I was dishing up a bowl of chili when it hit me like a bolt of bricks (not the chili, that was safely in my bowl). "Someone actually admitted to liking Jewish music!" I thought, "I should've written something sarcastic about someone actually admitting to liking Jewish music!"

Because really, it's sick. People hate Jewish music. They think it's ridiculous, it's cheesy, it's pathetic. You know what? I think your poetry stinks. No, sorry, I didn't mean to say that. What I meant to say was that I could really care less what you think. Do I go around criticizing your tastes in art or literature? No, and you would consider me a total heathen for expressing such thoughts. After all, everyone is entitled to their own opinions, right? Somehow though, when it comes to Jewish music, you either think it's all terrible or you have the brains of a dodo bird on speed.

Sure, everyone has their one or two groups/songs which they like. Some popular choices would be the Marcus Brothers, Matisyahu, Shlomo Carlebach, Soulfarm, or any other counter-cultural group which doesn't sound so much like other Jewish music to be hated. Lipa Schmeltzer used to be in this group, but then he got popular, so he's not cool any more.

Do I like every Jewish song, or even every artist? Not at all. Do I think every artist or every song is terrible? Not at all. There's good and there's bad, just like there's good and bad in non-Jewish music. Do we hear that all non-Jewish music is terrible? Of course not! Because it's not all terrible. Not all Jewish music is terrible either. Most of it is actually pretty good. And even if you think it's bad, I really don't care. Unless you want me telling you your poetry stinks...

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The least I could do

Even after a year I still have no words...

Read this for some insight.

Monday, November 16, 2009


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Thursday, November 12, 2009

Last call?

"This must be Thursday," said Arthur to himself, sinking low over his beer, "I never could get the hang of Thursdays."

--Arthur Dent

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Don't let Lubavs be disenfranchised again!

Dear Everyone,
Two bochurim from MyYeshiva - Nissin Weissman and Tzemi Zimmerman - are finalists in the local Federation Tzedakah art contest.
Take time to vote for them!!!
Good luck!

Yours Truly,
Michoel Rose

(PS from TRS-there's a reason the good L-rd created Opera-vote early, vote often!)

Sunday, November 8, 2009


There's a dvar Torah about this past week's Haftora (Vayera) that I've thought about every single year since I first heard it in 2004. Originally blogged on October 27, 2007 (read some cute comments there), here it is (slightly edited):

When I was a young child, back in YOEC, I heard something so good that I still remember it. The Rosh (Our fearless leader) gives a speech every Shabbos, and four years ago yesterday was no exception. The Haftora for Parshas Vayera deals with the Shunamite woman who Elisha first promises a child and then brings back to life. The child I mean. Sephardim only read the Haftora half-way, up to the point where she (the woman) tells her husband not to worry about the dead kiddie. Ashkenazim read the whole thing, up until the actual resurrection. Lubavitch normally follows the Sephardim rite, but for this Haftora we read according to the Ashkenazic version. Why? Hold on a second, you'll soon find out. See, Sephardim are big believers. In fact, they'll believe anything you tell them (how do you think I got that bridge off my hands?) which is a beautiful thing. On the other hand, Ashkenazim are a bunch of skeptical Apikorsim. So, obviously, Chabad wants to believe. But in this Haftora, we follow the Ashkenazim, because it deals with redemption, and when it comes to redemption, we don't want just to be told that it's all going to be good, we want to see the redemption.

Isn't that beautiful? I certainly thought so.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


Avimelech says to G-d, "Even if it is righteous, would you slay it? Perhaps this is your practice, to destroy the peoples for no reason. So did you do to the generation of the flood and to the generation of the disunion. I say too that you slew them for nothing, just as you say that you will slay me."

What the heck was the dude thinking, trying to shtech G-d? Like, "Oh, I'm going to win a logical argument with G-d, now he's not gonna do anything to me." Hello, this is G-d we're talking about, he invented logic! And even if he somehow loses, he's still gonna kill you. Will that make you feel better about how things went, that before you died you proved your point? Yasher Koach.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Jew

Background: The following essay was published in Der Angriff, 21 January 1929. Goebbels founded the newspaper in Berlin in 1927 shortly after taking over as the party's leader there. This article is a typical attack on the Jews.

The source: "Der Jude," Der Angriff. Aufsätze aus der Kampfzeit (Munich: Zentralverlag der NSDAP., 1935), pp. 322-324.

The Jew

by Joseph Goebbels

Everything is discussed openly in Germany, and every German claims the right to have an opinion on any and all questions. One is Catholic, the other Protestant, one an employee, the other an employer, a capitalist, a socialist, a democrat, an aristocrat. There is nothing dishonorable about choosing one side or the other of a question. Discussions happen in public, and where matters are unclear or confused one settles it by argument and counter argument. But there is one problem that is not discussed publicly, one that it is delicate even to mention: the Jewish question. It is taboo in our republic.

The Jew is immunized against all dangers: one may call him a scoundrel, parasite, swindler, profiteer, it all runs off him like water off a raincoat. But call him a Jew and you will be astonished at how he recoils, how injured he is, how he suddenly shrinks back: "I've been found out."

One cannot defend himself against the Jew. He attacks with lightning speed from his position of safety and uses his abilities to crush any attempt at defense.

Quickly he turns the attacker's charges back on him, and the attacker becomes the liar, the troublemaker, the terrorist. Nothing could be more mistaken than to defend oneself. That is just what the Jew wants. He can invent a new lie every day for the enemy to respond to, and the result is that the enemy spends so much time defending himself that he has no time to do what the Jew really fears: to attack. The accused has become the accuser, and loudly he shoves the accuser into the dock. So it always was in the past when a person or a movement fought the Jew. That is what would happen to us as well were we not fully aware of his nature, and if we lacked the courage to draw the following radical conclusions:

1. One cannot fight the Jew by positive means. He is a negative, and this negative must be erased from the German system, or he will forever corrupt it.

2. One cannot discuss the Jewish question with the Jews. One can hardly prove to a person that one has the duty to render him harmless.

3. One cannot allow the Jew the same means one would give an honest opponent, for he is no honorable opponent. He will use generosity and nobility only to trap his enemy.

4. The Jew has nothing to say about German questions. He is a foreigner, an alien, who only enjoys the rights of a guest, rights that he always abuses.

5. The so-called religious morality of the Jews is no morality at all, rather an encouragement to betrayal. Therefore, they have no claim to protection from the state.

6. The Jew is not smarter than we are, rather only cleverer and craftier. His system cannot be defeated economically — he follows entirely different moral principles than we do. It can only be broken through political means.

7. A Jew cannot insult a German. Jewish slanders are but badges of honor for a German opponent of the Jews.

8. The more a German person or a German movement opposes the Jew, the more valuable it is. If someone is attacked by the Jews, that is a sure sign of his virtue. He who is not persecuted by the Jews, or who is praised by them, is useless and dangerous.

9. The Jew evaluates German questions from the Jewish standpoint. As a result, the opposite of what he says must be true.

10. One must either affirm or reject anti-Semitism. He who defends the Jews harms his own people. One can only be a Jewish lackey or a Jewish opponent. Opposing the Jews is a matter of personal hygiene.

These principles give the anti-Jewish movement a chance of success. Only such a movement will be taken seriously by the Jews, only such a movement will be feared by them.

The fact that he shouts and complains about such a movement therefore is only a sign that it is right. We are therefore delighted that we are constantly attacked in the Jewish gazettes. They may shout about terror. We answer with Mussolini's familiar words: "Terror? Never! It is social hygiene. We take these individuals out of circulation just as a doctor does to a bacterium.

Page copyright © 1997 by Randall Bytwerk.

Hashkafah? Ha!

Today's (yesterday's, whatever) chitas says, and I quote from the Sapirstein Rashi Chumash, "Any 'Gazing' (השקפה) that is mentioned in Scripture is for bad, i.e. indicates the detriment of that which is being gazed upon."

Got it?

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Jewish Tweetup

Attention Tweeters and Bloggers, and have teamed up to throw a Jewish Tweetup in NY at the 92Y in Tribeca on Wednesday night. IY"H le7 and I will be there, and there'll be free food (even kosher!), so it should be a wild party. Yup.

Plus, yours truly is featured (not so) prominently in this week's Haveil Havalim, live at Snoopy the Goon.

Minnesota Connections

I got a call from Benny Friedman on Friday inviting me to a CD release party/farbrengen on Motzei Shabbos (that would be the night that was). I accepted, and Motzei Shabbos (of the night that was) found me at Lubavitch Yeshiva Crown St. at my first ever CD release party. Woohoo! First of all, of course, the CD was playing very loudly, and it sounds great. Very catchy.

After a while of standing on the side feeling awkward I went over to a bochur who was doing the same thing. Turns out he's e's and Dowy's roommate, which is cute. We chatted a bit, doing some people watching. Everyone who's anyone in the under-30 music business was there, including Benny Taubenfeld (head of Sameach Music) Yitzy Spinner, Dovid Stein, Yisroel Werdyger, Shloime Taussig, Avi Newmark (the producer), Sruli Meyer, and a whole bunch of other people who I don't know. Eventually Benny took the mike, and with Mr. Benshimon (yes, I must admit, I don't know his first name) on the keyboard, started to sing beautifully. He sang some duets, including Chasoif with Yisroel Werdyger, which he prefaced with, "I hope you're all drunk by now, because we've kind of forgotten how this goes." Needless to say, it was really nice. The whole thing was really nice, except for the whole feeling super awkward for most of it.

I was thinking that I was very provincial, let loose with all these fancy people, totally out of my league. Then I realized that in reality, when I'm comfortable, I'm on top of the world (witness last week's Poetry Slam). If you had stuck many of the people in that room at the poetry slam, they also would have been really uncomfortable and awkward and various other things. So really, it's all about who you know at any given moment. Of course there are also those people who are blessed with a certain natural ability to make friends wherever they are. Put me at a shabbos table with someone and I'll be fairly friendly with 'em by the time the meal's over, but a big room? I'm impressed that I made one friend!

Anywho, in case you somehow missed it, here's Benny's video preview thingamajiggie: