Sunday, January 31, 2010

I doubt the םבין will יבין, but...

You know why it says, (Leviticus 19, 17) "Rebuke you shall surely rebuke", and the Rabbis say, "Even a hundred times"? I'll tell you why: it's because the first 99 times the person you're trying to straighten out will laugh in your face. In the spirit of that, I present today's Tanya, courtesy of I sincerely hope that those who this applies to will take it to heart and won't continue to be a source of embarrassment to the rest of us. (If you aren't interested in reading what the Alter Rebbe has to say [and if that's the case, shame on you!], scroll down to the bottom for more from myself)

ומה שפיקוח נפש דוחה שאר עבירות וגם יעבור ואל יהרג

True, we find a principle that saving a life overrides other prohibitions though not the prohibition of idolatry; so too the law sometimes calls for one to commit a transgression rather than be killed, whereas with idolatry, incest and murder, the law requires that he submit to death rather than commit any one of the three.

This would seem to indicate that the Torah itself distinguishes between idolatry and most other commandments — while the Alter Rebbe previously stated that the adultress who makes such a distinction has been blinded by a ”spirit of folly,“ for in reality every sin tears one away from G‑d in the same way as idolatry.

In the following paragraph the Alter Rebbe states that there is no contradiction here. The requirement or non-requirement to sacrifice one’s life for a prohibition does not reflect its intrinsic worth.

היינו כפירוש חז״ל: אמרה תורה, חלל עליו שבת אחת כדי שישמור שבתות הרבה

This fact that saving a life overrides other prohibitions is because, as the Sages explain; 1 ”The Torah declares: ‘Desecrate one Shabbat for his sake so that he may live to observe other Shabbatot.’

When the medical treatment of a patient involves an activity normally forbidden on Shabbat, the Torah requires that we desecrate the Shabbat to cure him so that he may live to observe Shabbat in the future. Thus the precept of Shabbat has not been waived in the face of an external consideration. It is in the interests of the Shabbat itself (i.e., the patient’s future observance of Shabbat) that we desecrate this one Shabbat,

ולא משום קלות העבירות וחומרן

and it is not because of the relative leniency (of the Shabbat) or gravity of the sins (such as idolatry), that one is waived while the other is not.

תדע, שהרי שבת חמורה ושקולה כעבודה זרה לענין שחיטת מומר לדבר אחד, ביורה דעה סימן ב‘

(2This contention is supported by the following fact: Violation of the Shabbat is a grave offense, and comparable to idolatry with regard to the law of Shechitah by anyone who habitually violates a particular precept, as codified in Yoreh Deah, Section 2.

There the Shulchan Aruch states that one who regularly desecrates the Shabbat is unfit for Shechitah, as though he habitually practiced idolatry.

מה שאין כן במומר לגילוי עריות

A habitual sexual offender on the other hand does not have the same law applied to him as a habitual idolator, indicating that the violation of Shabbat is graver than sexual offenses.

ואפילו הכי פיקוח נפש דוחה שבת ולא גילוי עריות

Yet the consideration of life overrides Shabbat, but not the sexual prohibitions.

Thus it cannot be argued that the requirement to sacrifice oneself for the sexual prohibitions is due to their gravity, for we see that the desecration of Shabbat is even graver than them with regard to Shechitah. Hence we must conclude that the laws governing self-sacrifice are no measure of the relative gravity of the mitzvot,

אלא דגזירת הכתוב הוא

but they are simply a matter of Scriptural decree. 3

The sinner, however, who does distinguish between the gravity of the various transgressions, sacrificing his life for the prohibition of idolatry but not even restraining his desire for others, surely has his thinking clouded by the ”spirit of folly“ of the kelipah, which obscures his hidden love of G‑d. For in reality, every transgression creates the ultimate separation between the sinner and G‑d.

The Alter Rebbe now goes on to say that if a difference is indeed to be drawn between the various sins, it is only with regard to their effect after they have taken place.

אלא שלאחר מעשה החטא, אם היא מעבירות שאין בהן כרת ומיתה בידי שמים

After the sinful act, however, if the sin is of the type that carries neither the penalty of karet (spiritual extinction of the soul), or death at the hands of heaven,

שאין נפשו האלקית מתה לגמרי ונכרתת משרשה באלקים חיים

in which case the divine soul does not completely perish and is not entirely cut off from its source in the living G‑d;

רק שנפגם קצת דביקותה ואחיזתה בשרשה בחטא זה

except that through this sin its attachment to its source and its connection with it has been weakened somewhat, in the case of such a sin, the Alter Rebbe concludes (after a parenthetical note), the animal soul and the body can rise out of the kelipah and unite with the holiness of the divine soul.

The difference between — on the one hand — the sins carrying the penalty of karet or death at the hands of heaven, and other sins, is explained elsewhere4 as follows: The connection of the divine soul with its G‑dly source is comparable to a rope woven of 613 strands, each strand representing one of the commandments. Every sin severs a corresponding strand. When one strand is broken, the entire rope is weakened, but not severed entirely. The penalties of karet or death at the hands of heaven, however, cut the rope entirely, so to speak.

* * *

In the following note, the Alter Rebbe states that the varying degrees of severity in the punishments imposed for various sins correspond to the blemish caused by each sin. The purpose of punishment is not the punishment per se, but purification of the soul from the blemish which the sin brought about. Thus, the greater the blemish, the more severe the punishment.


ולפי ערך וחלוקי בחינת הפגם בנפש ובשרשה בעליונים


Corresponding to the extent and specific nature of the blemish caused by the sin in the soul and in its source in the supernal worlds,

כך הם חלוקי בחינות המירוק והעונש בגיהנם או בעולם הזה

are the various purifying processes and punishments in purgatory or in this world (i.e., the suffering of the soul in purgatory, or one's suffering in this world - whose purpose is to purify the soul),

לכל עון וחטא עונש מיוחד, למרק ולהעביר הלכלוך והפגם

for each transgression and sin its appropriate punishment, for the purpose of cleansing and removing the stain and the blemish caused by that specific sin.

וכן בחייבי מיתה וכרת אין פוגמין כולם בשוה

Similarly, the blemish caused by the sins carrying the penalty of death at the hands of heaven or karet varies from one sin to another.


הרי גם נפשו החיונית הבהמית המלובשת בגופו, וכן גופו

(To return to our original point:) After the sinful act, in the case of those sins which do not carry the punishment of karet or death at the hands of heaven, the sinner’s animal soul, which animates the body and is clothed in it, as well as his body itself,

חוזרים ועולים מהסטרא אחרא וקליפה זו ומתקרבים לקדושת נפש האלקית המלובשת בהם

return and rise from the sitra achra and kelipah whereto they descended when the sin was committed, and they draw closer to the holiness of the divine soul that pervades them.

המאמינה בה’ אחד, וגם בשעת החטא היתה באמנה אתו יתברך

The divine soul always believes in the One G‑d, and remains faithful to Him even while the sin is being committed.

For it is only the animal soul, via the body, that performs the sinful act.

רק שהיתה בבחינת גלות ממש תוך נפש הבהמית מסטרא אחרא, המחטיאה את הגוף ומורידתו עמה בעמקי שאול

But at that time, [the divine soul] was in a state of veritable exile in the animal soul — which derives from the sitra achra — which causes the body to sin, and drags it down with itself to the lowest depths;

למטה מטה תחת טומאת הסטרא אחרא וקליפת עבודה זרה, ה‘ ישמרנו

so low, in fact, that it is even lower than the impurity of the sitra achra and the kelipah of idolatry (May G‑d preserve us!).

An exile’s foreign surroundings restrict him from expressing his abilities and ideas. Similarly the divine soul (which is in exile within the animal soul when one sins) is unable to express itself in mastery of the body and in harnessing it for the service of G‑d, by reason of the foreign environment of the kelipah.

ואין לך גלות גדול מזה, מאיגרא רמה כו’

There is no greater exile than this exile of the divine soul within the animal soul, that is brought on through sin. It is a plunge ”from a lofty roof [to a deep pit].“

וכמו שכתוב לעיל, דשרש ומקור נפשות כל בית ישראל הוא מחכמה עילאה, והוא יתברך וחכמתו אחד וכו‘

For, as explained earlier, 5 the source and root of all Jewish souls is in the Divine Wisdom, and G‑d and His wisdom are one and the same... and sin plunges the soul from this lofty plane to the depths of exile within the sitra achra.

והוא כמשל האוחז בראשו של מלך ומורידו למטה וטומן פניו בתוך בית הכסא מלא צואה, שאין לך עלבון גדול מזה, אפילו עושה כן לפי שעה

It is comparable to one who seizes the king’s head, drags it down, and dips his face in a privy full of filth — the ultimate in humiliation, even if he does it only for a moment.

שהקליפות וסטרא אחרא נקראות קיא צואה, כנודע

For the kelipot and sitra achra are called ”vomit and filth,“ as is known.

Similarly, when one seizes the divine soul, which stems from Divine wisdom (”the king’s head“), and through his sins forces it into the kelipah (”a privy full of filth“), he brings upon his soul the most unspeakable humiliation — even if he does so only for a moment (for afterwards the soul rises out of its exile).

We thus see that the differences between the various sins apply only after the sin has been committed. During the act, however, every sin tears one away from G‑d. Since every Jew is endowed with a hidden love of G‑d, by virtue of which he wishes to be constantly united with Him, and never to be separated from Him, not even for a moment, he can employ this hidden love in fulfilling all the mitzvot and in avoiding every sin — as the Alter Rebbe concludes in the following chapter.


So, you got all that? You really enjoy sticking the head of the king in the toilet? Do I really have to repeat this ninety nine more times?

Thursday, January 28, 2010


In case you were wondering why I'm posting these, it's because I'm in a very peaceful mood.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


2009 Jewish Music Blogger's Award Winners!

TRS picked Benny too! Woohoo!

TRS picked this too! Go him!
TRS picked this too! Once again the masses applaud TRS' every move! (Now I'm beginning to sound like the Tippler & Toppler or A Bochur in Lubawitz)
TRS has to respectfully disagree here- after all, as usual, the masses are...
And TRS triumphs once again!
Sorry, have to respectfully disagree...
Here too I used semantics to give Beri Weber the nod.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

HH 253: The Real Work Edition

Do you know what time it is? It's Haveil Havalim time! As always I'm doing this at a time way past my bed time, because my good friend Yossi Shomer (Toronto) just got engaged to Batsheva Schreiber (West Hartford) and their lchaim was recently the scene of much celebration by myself, which resulted in, as I said, a rather late putting together of this week's HH. Nu nu. Meanwhile, welcome to another exciting edition of Haveil Havalim, number 253, and as always:

Founded by Soccer Dad, Haveil Havalim is a carnival of Jewish blogs -- a weekly collection of Jewish & Israeli blog highlights, tidbits and points of interest collected from blogs all around the world. It's hosted by different bloggers each week and coordinated by Jack. The term 'Haveil Havalim,' which means "Vanity of Vanities," is from Qoheleth, (Ecclesiastes) which was written by King Solomon. King Solomon built the Holy Temple in Jerusalem and later on got all bogged down in materialism and other 'excesses' and realized that it was nothing but 'hevel,' or in English, 'vanity.'

Moving right along, on with the show, and remember that just because I wrote something doesn't mean I meant it, and just because I didn't write something doesn't mean I didn't mean it.

So then... this week blogged about the Friendship Circle in West Bloomfield, Michigan, which this week inundated everyone's inboxes and Facebook and Twitter and whatnot's with pleas to vote for them. For those who don't yet know, the FC finished in fourth place and received $100,000 which is a pretty nice chunk of change, though it's obviously not the big payday we were all hoping for.

Next up we have
Haiti, that penniless island nation with a penchant for bad news. Jacob Richman wrote about an IDF Search and Rescue Team Saves Man while Batya presents Trying to "Whitewash" The Israeli Contribution in Haiti . Harry gave us some more love with Israelis do their part in Haiti, while Lady-Light had More on Israeli Efficiency and Chesed* and Eric had A Reader Comment About Haiti. Fern Chasida Rabinovitz told us about her National Pride, which is quite understandable. The message from all, of course, is that Israel rocks the house, even if they can't qualify for the World Cup, and anyone who stands in the way of our world dominat-I mean, world salvati-I mean, helping people out, will be swiftly dealt with by us Jewish blogger people. Providing a glorious opportunity for a nice little segue, Batya has a very serious critique of Israel (as opposed to the utterly non-serious previous sentence directly preceding this one about Israel's plans for taking over the world [I just had to make sure y'all understand that was a joke]) with Bullet-Proof, The Fashion I'd Rather Not Need Again, And Thoughts About Israel Helping Haiti, which calls to mind the Talmudic dictum regarding charity starting at home.

As I said, that was a nice segue into some more postings about Israel, including Joel Katz with Religion and State in Israel - January 18, 2010 (Section 1) and Religion and State in Israel - January 18, 2010 (Section 2), very convenient, I know. Continuing in the Israel-religion (aren't the two mutually exclusive?) vein, Batya gives us Religious Freedom in Israel, Bad News for The Jews, and Harry has a post (Second Seasons) about an Israeli tv show called Serugim. Far be it from me to offer an opinion, but from his description of the show, it sure didn't seem like it was about religious singles. Soccer Dad has Galaxies Apart, which features pictures of our holy land (always a good thing), Harry has some more on that landscape with Nostalgia Sunday – Pressed Wildflowers, and Anthony rounds this sentence up nicely while he questions the Israeli High Court with Route 443: Is the High Court Correct?.

Next up is the Yisrael Medad section!

Yisrael Medad presents My Right Word: Amy's Very Jewish Father posted at My Right Word, saying, "MyRightWord notes that Amy Winehouse's father is no different than any Jewish father."

Yisrael Medad presents The Mumble-Jumble of Mondoweiss posted at My Right Word, saying, "MyRightWord decided to take on a leading antizionist."

Yisrael Medad presents There Went Another posted at My Right Word, saying, "Yisrael Medad discovered another Israeli media star who has returned to Judaism. What's happening in Tel Aviv?"

Other shtuff

Chabad presents BLOG: About Black Boxes and Jewish Pride posted at Chabad-Lubavitch news site. As in, next time you're on an airplane, remember that sometimes exciting things happen.

Mottel presents Of Ivy League Towns and Good Beer posted at Letters of Thought, saying, "have a good shabbos" to which I say, "Thank you very much, I did, and I hope yours was equally fulfilling."

Suzy presents The STILL suggestion posted at A bit of Light, and once I'm finished this Haveil Havalim I'll be sure to take her suggestion under consideration, probably in bed. Asleep.

Yossi presents Worldwide Cooties Pandemic which is pretty much self explanatory.

Yossi also presented Running of the Hats, which describes one of the cultural institutions for which Brooklyn is justly famous.

Risa presents The Banality of Love posted at Isramom, saying, "Review of a play"

Batya presents G-d's Canvas posted at me-ander.

Lady-Light presents Screwy U.S. Airline Security Measures-Ripe for Satire posted at Tikkun Olam, saying, "This is so silly, it could have been under "US Airport Security"--er--"Humor."


Soccer Dad presents Remembering the Lamed Heh -- 35 who fought to save Gush Etzion posted at The Muqata جميل في المقاطعة.

HumorLady-Light presents BEST Made-Up Family Word EVER (nablopomo day#10) posted at Tikkun Olam.

Judaism (Our glorious religion)

Micah Streiffer presents Virtually Jewish posted at חוץ מזה - Chutz Mizeh - Otherwise....

David Morris presents Jewish Press - Saving Our Children From Abuse, by David Morris posted at Tzedek-Tzedek, saying, "An article from Tzedek-Tzedek now published in Jewish Press - about the problems of reporting child abuse cases to the police in orthodox communities.

Mordechai Torczyner presents Rabbi Herschel Solnica, z"l posted at The Rebbetzin's Husband.

David Morris presents Directed Anger - Surviving Child Sex-Abuse & Incest posted at Tzedek-Tzedek.

Rachel Barenblat presents Velveteen Rabbi: The nursing mother tallit posted at Velveteen Rabbi, to which I say, "Hey, I've been using my wool tallis for months now without washing..."


Shira Salamone presents Creeping toward consistent kashrut? posted at ON THE FRINGE—AL TZITZIT, saying, "Believe it or not, frozen pancakes help me keep kosher."

Shira Salamone presents Consistent kashrut? Not quite posted at ON THE FRINGE—AL TZITZIT, saying, "Good luck try to keep kosher without convincing your family and friends that you think you're "holier than thou."


leah aharoni presents The Danger of Parenting Books posted at Ingathered.

Mordechai Torczyner presents The Tyranny of the BCC posted at The Rebbetzin's Husband.

Laura Weisskopf Bleill presents Being a Jew in C-U: Quality, Not Quantity posted at, saying, "Thanks!", to which I respond, "You're welcome!"

Hadassah Sabo Milner presents Blatant Racism and Judgmentalism « In the Pink posted at In the Pink, saying, "i wasn't sure which category to place this in - I trust your judgment"-to which I say, "That's funny, because I sure don't trust my judgment."

Hadassah Sabo Milner presents My kids are in shidduchim!! posted at In the Pink, which must be the most stressful thing in the whole world. Do you want your kid coming home with some creep? I didn't think so.

Home Shuling presents Talking about God posted at Home-shuling.

Home Shuling presents Taking care of ourselves posted at Home-shuling.


SnoopyTheGoon presents The water libel: Zionists flooding Gaza to drown Palestinians posted at SimplyJews.

SnoopyTheGoon presents Extremist in Egypt, teacher in London, what else are you, Reza Pankhurst? posted at SimplyJews


Batya presents Transition Leaders, Moses and Samuel posted at Shiloh Musings

That concludes this edition. Submit your blog article to the next edition of haveil havalim
using our carnival submission form.

Past posts and future hosts can be found on our blog carnival index page.

Technorati tags:, .

Friday, January 22, 2010

Healthy Advice

Q: Doctor, I've heard that cardiovascular exercise can prolong life. Is this true?
A: Your heart only good for so many beats, and that it...don't waste on exercise. Everything wear out eventually. Speeding up heart not make you live longer; it like saying you extend life of car by driving faster. Want to live longer? Take nap.

Q: Should I cut down on meat and eat more fruits and vegetables?

A: You must grasp logistical efficiency. What does cow eat? Hay and corn. And what are these? Vegetables. So steak is nothing more than efficient mechanism of delivering vegetables to your system. Need grain? Eat chicken. Beef also good source of field grass (green leafy vegetable). And pork chop can give you 100% of recommended daily allowance of vegetable product. Everything in moderation

Q: Should I reduce my alcohol intake?

A: No, not at all. Wine made from fruit. Brandy is distilled wine, that mean they take water out of fruity bit so you get even more of goodness that way. Beer also made of grain. Bottom up!

Q: How can I calculate my body/fat ratio?

A: Well, if you have body and you have fat, your ratio one to one. If you have two bodies, your ratio two to one, etc.

Q: What are some of the advantages of participating in a regular exercise program?

A: Can't think of single one, sorry. My philosophy is: No pain...good!

B: Sex is very good exercise, good for many things, not only for pleasure.

Q: Aren't fried foods bad for you?
A: YOU NOT LISTENING! Food are fried these day in vegetable oil. In fact, they permeated by it. How could getting more vegetable be bad for you?!? again eating everything in moderation. you are what you eat.

: Will sit-ups help prevent me from getting a little soft around the middle?
A: Definitely not! When you exercise muscle, it get bigger. You should only be doing sit-up if you want bigger stomach.

Q: Is chocolate bad for me?

A: Are you crazy?!? HEL-LO-O!! Cocoa bean! Another vegetable! It best feel-good food around!

Q: Is swimming good for your figure?

A: If swimming good for your figure, explain whale to me..

Q: Is getting in shape important for my lifestyle?

A: Hey! 'Round' a shape!

Well, I hope this has cleared up any misconceptions you may have had about food and diets.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Peace through (cell) power

After Scott Brown’s shocking win last night in Massachusetts we here at wanted to find a way to bring this country together again. It seems like healthcare isn’t going to do the trick, mainly because no one’s listened to our suggestions on the matter, but be that as it may, here at we’re as public spirited as ever. In what other fashion could we possibly bring unity to this fractured amalgam of ours? How about through music? After all, music is to soothing the savages what airplanes are to transportation- extremely effective and not overly expensive. So how about it then? Let’s see what this future perfect might be like:

“Hey John, that’s a great phone you have there. It plays music so well and looks nice too.”

“Well Smithers, it is a great phone, but so is yours! It also plays music well, and also has a superior outward appearance.”

“Yes John, ever since we bought these cellphones from we’ve been so very happy, and so is everyone around us!”

Wasn’t that beautiful? Just think of all the tremendous accomplishments that music has to its credit for the the last three thousand years or so, and imagine those effects multiplied by billions. With just a little bit of effort we could bring global peace in a way that James Cameron could only dream of. Best of all, instead of costing trillions of dollars, this plan would only require a modest investment of about sixty dollars per person, which in my opinion is well worth the cost. With every person rocking to their own tunes, no one would be jealous, no one would be hungry, no one would be anything but completely satisfied and content. Sounds a little socialist for all the right-wingers in this country to get behind? Obviously they haven’t heard the sublime brilliance of a well played Bach concerto.

Perhaps they’re right, these conservative tea drinkers. Perhaps there is a better way to bring this country together. What could be a better method than music? How about the promise of opportunity that is the internet? Let’s listen in to another conversation between John and Smithers:

“Hey John, what a remarkable new phone you have there. It surfs the net like it was born in Hawaii, and its messaging capabilities are unmatched. With a phone like that, you can really spread messages of peace and goodwill to all the world!”

“Well Smithers, I appreciate that you like this phone, but the truth is that your new phone is as much a game changer as mine. With those lightning-quick 3G speeds and that full Qwerty keyboard, your phone is truly equipped to be the new version of the United Nations security forces, but this time it’ll actually, bringing prosperity and capitalist ideals to everyone the world over.”

“John, truer words have never been spoken. If only everyone followed our lead and moseyed on down to and did their part to save the world, there’d be no more car bombings or whatever. Even religious fundamentalists the world over can use technology to plan to their prayer meetings or whatever it is that religious fundamentalists do, and no one has to get hurt.”

Wishful thinking? Perhaps. After all, if music can’t save the world, who says the internet can? Good thing all four phones featured here have both excellent music and internet capabilities-the perfect combination to finally rid the world of all that ails it, and a great deal too!

Monday, January 18, 2010



I’m looking for a solution to a slight problem I’m having right now. Basically, my pet goldfish died, and I don’t know what to do. It’s really sad, because I loved my pet goldfish like a brother, and now I just don’t know what to do! I remember all the good times, when we used to just sit there and stare at each other. I remember nursing him back to health when he was sick, pouring just a drop of chicken soup into his fishbowl to ensure he’d get better. Unfortunately though, this only lead to his death, as the hot soup scalded him. I immediately pulled him out and put on first aid cream, but I guess it was too late, and I was left bereft of my only friend. What shall I do?



Dear Johnson,

I’m very sorry to hear about the loss of your fish; I’ve had pets myself, and I know how attached people get to the little critters. Might I suggest you go for a new pet that requires a little less personal love and care? The LG CU920 Vu has this really cool feature that allows you to have a fish on your front screen. You can play with this fish and everything, and it’ll never even get sick! Probably a good thing, because cellphones appreciate chicken soup even less than goldfish.


Two weeks ago I got ripped off resigning with one of the big cellphone companies, and now I don’t know what to do. I wanted a cool new phone, so I spent all my money on yet another two year plan, plus I had to pay big bucks for the cellphone. The customer service is terrible, and I feel confused, frustrated, and lonely. Whatever shall I do?



Deal Carl,

Here at we hear many heartbreaking stories like your own. The saddest is when, as in your case, the customer reups with his phone company- fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on who? Don’t worry though, there’s no need to panic. Most of the major carriers have thirty day money back guarantees, and once you’re rid of the waste you can move on to bigger and greater things, like a brand new unlocked cell phone which you can use with many different cell companies. Might I suggest the MotoRoker EM30? You’ll be able to listen to all your favorite music and call your friends to let them know how much you’re enjoying your new phone. Best of all, you’ll be emboldening freedom-seekers around the world and striking a blow for justice and opportunity. Sounds noble and far-fetched? Perhaps, but for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction, and with your help we can bring redemption to the world’s repressed cellphone using millions.


I haven’t had a big break in a long time. Everywhere I turn I’m besieged by doubts. Can I do succeed, can I make a way for myself in life, can I truly live up to my great potential? I just don’t know what to do. Please help.



Dear Eli,

You sound a bit depressed, which is understandable, because you obviously haven’t had any reason to be happy lately. It’s been two and a half weeks since New Years, and even longer since you played in a meaningful football game. Whether it was your supporting cast or your leg that let you down, it’s now time for a change. Change is good. Change can help you. All right, a new defensive coordinator probably won’t do much to help your people catch the balls they’re currently dropping, but perhaps we can help them. After all, what’s the real issue here? Communication, or lack thereof. The receivers just aren’t feeling your vibes, and they’re not catching your balls. Or maybe the issue is that your overthrowing. Or that your best receiver is in jail. Maybe. If the issue is the lack of communication, then we have just the thing for you- a brand new Sidekick LX. You can call or text or chat down field and finally start throwing some touchdowns.

Sunday, January 17, 2010


Dear California Astrology Association,

I would like to thank you so much for all your wonderful help with the car. You see, I needed three thousand dollars by Monday to keep my car; otherwise the bank would repossess it and I'd have no way to drive around. I decided to get a money spell cast for me, and amazingly enough, it worked! Just three days after you cast the money spell my great uncle died in a car crash, and he left me three thousand dollars in his will! It's so convenient, because now I still have a car to drive to his funeral! Once again, thanks so much,

Dear California Astrology Association,

One year ago my boyfriend dumped me, and I've been despondent ever since. I emailed your witch Andreika, and she promised to help me. Two weeks after that I received a phone call from my former boyfriend's mother, telling me that he was dying in a hospital, and could I come and see him? I realized that this was the moment I'd been waiting for, and I rushed down to the hospital to see him. As soon as I stepped into his room I knew that something powerful was happening, and I was determined to fulfill my mission. I knelt down by his bed, placed my hand in his hand, and he said, "Jane". Then he died. His mother said that she was happy that he had died happy and fulfilled. I too feel happy and fulfilled now, knowing that he died happy and fulfilled.


Dear California Astrology Association,

I never believed in astrology, or magic, or anything like that, but then I saw Harry Potter and I decided to try it out for myself. I was so disappointed that I couldn't attend Hogwarts, but I bought your kit and used it. Heeding its warning to only use the kit in the direst of emergencies, I saved it until I really needed it-I was so thirsty that day, you wouldn't believe, and there was no water available in the whole building! I used the Witch Doctor Spell Kit, and within minuted a repairman came! It was incredible! Once again, thanks so much,


(hat tip Modeh)

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Harry Reid’s Salvation

There’s been a lot of talk lately about health care in these United States. There’s been much debate about public options, death panels, and Nancy Pelosi, but there’s been one issue that seems not to have been addressed. This issue is preventative health, and I have a stunning solution that’ll keep you out of hospital rooms and in the brightest bloom of health for years to come.

First let’s examine what the core issue is: happiness, or lack thereof. You may not know it, but very few people in this world are immortal. In fact, the numbers are so small as to be inconsequential. The vast majority of people will die one day. Scary, but true. What’s the solution to this? I don’t think there is one. People will just go on being born and dying, and there’s nothing you or I can do about it. So what’s the whole issue with health care? After all, if everyone is just going to die anyway, who cares if they do it half an hour earlier or later? Obviously there must be more to do it than that. The answer is, as I wrote earlier, happiness. People want good health care because they’re happy with life, and they want it to continue. Or maybe they want good health care because they have a terrible life and they think it’ll get better if they have good health care. See how complicated it is? If bloggers have a difficult time coming to grips with the issue, imagine how difficult it must be for members of congress, who are too busy wasting the public’s money (actually, at this point it’s China’s money) to ever use their brains, to comprehend it. Especially when the bill is over 1,500 pages long, and most of these people can barely read enough to figure out if the soda they’re getting from the congressional cafeteria is diet or regular.

Be that as it may, the goal of health care is for the person undergoing treatment to be happier coming out than they were coming in. The goal of truly excellent health care is to make the person coming in so happy that they don’t even have to get any health care treatment. How is this to be accomplished? Very simple: make people happy. Obviously.

How to make people happy? Not so easy as all that, because of course there are different sorts of people and they get happy from different sorts of things. Some people become happy from feeling fulfilled, and others think this is a load of codswallop. Some people are happy when they see other people suffer, and some people are happy when these types of people are suffering themselves. Evidently, it’s difficult to make everybody happy all the time. Still, we could try our best, which is all that can really be asked of us. How to make the largest amount of people happy with the least amount of trouble? The answer is…


That’s right. Sure, some people don’t like cellphones, and some other people think that true happiness comes from inner peace, but they’re a minority of people. Most everyone else would be much happier with a new cellphone (or even a cellphone accessory, we’re not picky), and think of the benefits to society- shorter lines in the emergency room, less people crowding our cemeteries, and global peace and glory descending on humanity. All from a simple cellphone. Remarkable? I’ll let you decide that.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Still included

The following was written two years ago, and it's quite pertinent, and anyway, the original only got two comments, so...

Today, like all days, is a very special day. Exactly 20 years ago the Lubavitcher Rebbe finished saying Kaddish for his wife, the Rebbitzen. And the Chasidish Bochurim in LA finally got some sleep. See, the Rebbe's Davening would be played in the Zal for all those Bochurim who wanted to hear it. In New York, it wasn't so tough. After all, the Rebbe would begin prayers at 10:00. Yes, I understand that there was a whole goral thing going on for admittance, but even if you didn't luck out, you could still listen without too much effort. Rabbi Wolfman in Morristown told us of his days in Yeshiva, in Morristown, that he had a room mate who would Daven Shacharis, in the room, while the Rebbe was Davening Mincha, which was played over the PA in the whole campus. Later this guy became an Elokist. That's why I'm not mentioning any names. Rabbi Wolfman theorized that he went crazy because he would be Davening to G-d, hearing the Rebbe, and mix up the two. But that's just a theory. Anyway, back to those brave Bochurim in LA, so yeah, they had to be in Zal at 7:00 AM. And to hear the Rebbe Davening without going to Mikve first? Horrors. By the way, I wasn't in LA in those years. More's the pity. I was a mere tyke of two. Anyway, once the Rebbe finished up the year, those Bochurim, like CCL, could get some more sleep.

Speaking of sleep, last night I didn't get enough. But what of it? The really annoying thing was that I was falling asleep for Korbanos through the 18 Benedictions, but once I got to Tachanun I was fine. It's annoying because 1. I wouldn't have Davened the beginning so quickly,and 2. Now even if I tried I wouldn't be able to sleep.

The reason I didn't get enough sleep is because last night I picked up a book called, "The Cantonists." It's one of the most terrible things I've ever read, especially contrasted with this week's Parsha. Both featured horrible Goyim, which is something I've come to expect. The abuse that these (literally) babies went through is more than I can comprehend. Most of us would collapse after two or three birch canings. These guys took 1000 and kept their faith. But yeah, as I said, I've come to expect this kind of treatment from Goyim. After all, as the holy books say Eisav Sonei Yisrael. What's really disturbing is what the Jews did. In Egypt, the taskmasters would let themselves be beaten so as to avoid whipping their fellow Jews. In Russia, many Jews made a business of capturing children. The official community establishment itself would help these people commit their nefarious crimes. I don't have the patience to describe all the horrors that occurred in that generation, so get the book yourselves. It's important for us to know why we have to hate the whole world. Or something like that.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Yes we can

As many people by now know, I spent a year on Shlichus at MyYeshiva in Cottage Grove, MN. There haven't been that many Bochurim to come through the yeshiva, and even fewer Shluchim, but that's okay, because MyYeshiva wasn't established to be a place for the masses. Sure, it would be nice for the Yeshiva to have lots of kids, but that's really not what it's there for. The Yeshiva is there for the kids who might otherwise slip through the cracks, the kids who would be one and done at a cookie-cutter Yeshiva. I've never been in another Yeshiva where literally every member of the staff spends hours agonizing about each kid.

What's the issue then? The issue is that, without some serious help, MyYeshiva will close down. This would not be a good thing. What do I expect my fellow bloggers to do? Well, I hardly expect anyone to give some of the $620,000 that is needed to keep MyYeshiva afloat, but I'm sure everyone can think of something they can help with. For some people, that might mean joining the "Save MyYeshiva" thingie on FB, while for others it might mean not writing snarky comments on this here post (a difficult task, I know).

For more info, read the following links:

Yeshiva Blues
-American Jewish News

Saving Yeshiva High-The Pioneer Press

Twin Cities Media, Citizens, Help To Save Minnesota

Saturday, January 2, 2010

JM Blogger Awards: The Real Shliach

Best Album: Taamu – Benny Friedman. Not even close. This album is great for a couple reasons, notably because Benny’s voice is extraordinary (have any one else singing most of these songs and they’re “nice”, but not brilliant) and the song selection is so good (have Benny sing any other songs and his star does not shine so brightly…). It’s this truly superb combination of Benny’s voice and the album’s composition that really blew me away, and that made this my album of the year. Heck, has there ever been another album that referenced Likkutei Sichos in the liner notes? Awesome!

Best Song: Yaavducha – Benny Friedman. Sure, this song is on Benny’s album, and it’s mainly sung by him, but its true genius lies in the collaborative effort that produced it. The Marcus Brothers have really nice voices, and hearing them together with Benny is a treat. Add to that this song, which is like a combo Carlebach on acid without the stress, and you’ve got a sure-fire winner. Seriously, I could listen to this song all day (I’ve done it a couple time) and not get sick- it’s sweeter and cuter than the sweetest and cutest (insert one of several Shlomo lines here), with another tang to keep it fresh for a long time.

Best Debut Album: Bezras Hashem – Beri Weber. Does this even make sense? How can it be that the best album of the year, the first album that the artist ever made, is not the debut album of the year? My only possibly excuse is that I’ve been listening to Benny sing for so long (we did both grow up in Minnesota) and so feel that he’s really not so new at all. Besides, I listened to Beri’s album obsessively until Taamu came out, and it’s really excellent. Maybe not so incredibly polished, but the song selection is really nice, especially the slow ones.

Best arrangement: No Lyrics (Benny Friedman) – Ian Freitor. Can there be any question? The instant kumzitz classic for the next decade.

Best Yiddish Song: Yiddish Medley – Avraham Fried. Yes, I loved Benny’s Emes, and the combo of Rabbi Manis Friedman and Lipa Schmeltzer is like a dream come true, but there’s something about a Chabad Niggun that really affects a person, really makes them think about what’s going on, where they’re coming from and where they’re headed to. The opener was of course redone several years ago by 8th Day, and that was nice, but the original Lubavitch melody really takes you places.

Best Concert DVD: Avraham Fried – Live in Israel. If Avraham Fried were to never make another album (not that I’m Ch”V suggesting something like that), I think this concert would be a fine retrospective of his long and distinguished career. Working through all the classics, with much higher sound quality than the originals, this album also showcases several new (for Avremel) songs, notably Rak Tefila, Unesane Tokef, and the truly beautiful and moving Mishehu Holech Tamid Iti. There’s also the classic Ribbono Shel Olam in a duet with Dudu Fisher, which shows much the same thing as Avremel’s duets with Yitzchok Meir Helfgot showed at Hasc a couple years back- he may not be a chazzan, but he’s still got one of the best voices in Jewish music.

JM Blogger Awards: The Real Shliach