Sunday, January 30, 2011


There were two missives in the 22 Shevat issue of Nshei Chabad which are worthy of response on this worthy blog, but I'll only be responding to one, for reason which shall remain obvious to those who are already cognizant of them.

There was an article in a previous issue of the newsletter which stated that Chabad Yeshivos provide wonderful educations. The author provided various proofs for his assertion, and came to the conclusion that Lubavitcher bochurim learn all the skills necessary in their educational endeavors for two (and only two) professions: shlichus and entrepreneurism. And that's it. Because that's all you need: either you go out on Shlichus, which is really entrepreneurial in and of itself, or you start your own business, which is really Shlichus.

In this most recent issue someone responded that the above assertion was actually incorrect. Contrary to the author's beliefs, the fact that bochurim leave yeshiva with a very limited skill set reflects a major deficiency in the system, not a positive. As the first responder says, there's a very limited number of shlichus spots open, and many people simply don't have the ability to be entrepreneurs.

In response, the author of the original article says that the main thing which matters is the person's own faith and belief and self. If you believe it enough, it will come true. There's no need to go to any sort of school, because the most successful people all just believed in themselves, and this is exactly what the Lubavitch educational system teaches.

As the commentaries would say, this is the end of the quote.

And as the commentaries would undoubtedly be too polite to say, this is bogus. The best way to respond to naivete like this is to point out the Rebbe's establishment of vocational schools in Israel. The only way to disprove someone who has drunk the Kool-Aid is to bring something which directly contradicts them.

Next up, it's simply ridiculous to assert that everyone could start their own business or at least trail blaze a new path in life. After all, if this was the case, where would the doctors come from? I'm all for people starting their own medical companies, but I would like them to have gone through some medical training first.

Besides, most people, yours truly included, simply don't have the temperament, inclination, or natural-born abilities to make something on their own. The author seems to have these abilities, and is astonished that the rest of the human race does not share his own nature. At the very least, he assumes, seven or eight years in the Yeshiva system should drill enough self-belief in someone that they're able to make it on their own in the big wide world. After all, as long as you believe in yourself, you can do anything, right?

The purpose of this post is not to posit a deficiency in the Lubavitch educational system, but rather to say that wishful thinking is no substitute for an actual education. Quoting Tony Robbins and thinking that there's some sort of mantle which will fit all Lubavitchers is absolutely ridiculous. Everyone is different. There are 600,000 general souls, and each soul has their own path in life. Sure, there's one Rebbe, but that Rebbe was smart enough to know that everyone is not the same.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Now you know

In honor of the upcoming Hasc concert, I thought it'd be a good idea to go through my favorite Hasc songs, in no particular order. The number next to them is the number of times I've listened to them on my iPod, which of course does not reflect the number of times I listened to them on my previous 1.5 iPods.

1. Yoel Sharabi's Hineni Kahn (1023). As many of you will know, I sang together with him, and yes, he really had that hair.

2. MBD's Golus Paroh (1185). Apparently this is the Weiss family's favorite song, and truth be told, I really can't blame them.

3. It took this long to get to Avremel? But here he is, with Eliyau Hanavi (127).

4. And again, with L'shana Habah (1279) . No words, just right. Well, almost no words. Still just right.

5. And back with MBD, Daagah Minayim (31). What can I say? He's right.

6. Tzadik, from Avraham Rosenblum and Ruby Harris (1551).

7. MBD again, with Ko Amar (63). I think this might be my favorite song of the bunch. Maybe that's because it's so easy to sing.

8. MBD with Mimkomcha (703). I love this song to bits, but the intro is a bit grating after the first thirty listens. But that's ok.

9. It's funny, because I really don't listen to that much MBD in general, but he's on the list here again with Heaven on Earth (1032).

10. The one and only Dedi with Elokai Neshoma (1536). On a side note: isn't everyone one and only? I mean, even people with identical DNA are different, no?

11. Chaim Dovid with Nafshenu Chiksah (1535). Truth is, his Open Up Your Gates (327) should also be on this list. As should the finale of Hasc III, There's a Small Piece of Heaven (3). As should the finale of Hasc IV, Candles (19), even if MBD sounds terrible there. And once I'm there, is it fair to leave out either Forever One (10, 63)?

12. Piamenta's Birkat Hamazon (67). I didn't always appreciate the brilliance of this one, but now I do. Strange things happen, eh?

13. Avraham Fried, Dedi, and Ohad's Yossi Green medley (641). Gorgeous. I wish Avremel would put out a cd of oldies, and give prominent billing to Kadaish (112) off of Goodbye Golus. My heart stops every time I hear that chorus. Fortunately it's not a very long one, otherwise I'd have to put Hatzalah on speed dial. But yeah, the first two numbers covered in the Hasc medley should certainly receive preferential treatment. V'zakeinu (79) and Keayol (15) are, as I already said, gorgeous.

14. The next two songs are, now that I'm further reflecting, possibly unworthy of their place on this list. Boruch Haboh (38) from last year's Hasc is great, but is it an all time great? Especially with Lipa cracking in the middle? Which brings up another point. Some people are fantastic in the studio, like Yaaov Shwekey, but aren't worth a lick live. Or else, maybe he is amazing live, but recordings of him live aren't much. I wouldn't know. Others are fantastic in studio and live and in subsequent recordings thereof, like Avraham Fried. Everyone knows that I love Lipa, but recordings of him live aren't so great. When in a studio he's able to do a lot more than when he's bound by the laws of physics, but seeing him on a stage? His presence more than makes up for any deficiencies in his voice. Not that there are many, but they certainly do exist. The same applies to the next song, the greatest hits medley (40), also from last year's (XXIII) Hasc. I really had it on this list (which mirrors the "Hasc Classics" playlist of the official iPod Touch of TRS) because of one song, Vehi Sheomdah 7). Like everyone else, I love that song. But now that I actually have Shwekey singing it, do I need this version? Especially with Fried's corniness? I understand that it's a family trait (ouch! that wasn't nice!), but again, after thirty listens, is it really necessary? Ich vais nisht.