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Apr 30, 2006

HH 67 is up!!

Haveil Havalim 67 is up. There are a lot of posts, and a lot by bloggers I have not come across before. The Hashmonean did a fabulous job..

I only just started following HH links, but so far Treppenwitz has a very touching story for Yom Hashoah and is a must read. I found Jameel's meme very interesting, and I generally do not bother reading the meme's..

2 of my posts made the cut. I especially liked the first, about Yom Hashoah, and the second was pretty good too (though maybe a bit incomplete, as I wrote it quickly).

I still have a lot to read, and might add to my list of favorite posts from this weeks HH, but for now I gotta go..

Apr 28, 2006

searching for rogelach

This morning I had to go to work. That is very unusual for me on a Friday, but they were unusual circumstances. After I finished what I had to do, I had a softball game (we won!!) scheduled for 9:30 am in The Baptist Village (outside of Petach Tikva).
Being that I had some time to spare, and I had to drive on the outskirts of Bnei Brak anyway to get to the game, I decided to drive into Bnei Brak to look for rogelach and bourekas to eat before the game.
It was 8:00 am and not much was happening in Bnei Brak. The streets were quiet. Most of the people out were people going to and from shul. Some stores, mostly makolets and bakeries, were just beginning to open. I drove around a bit looking for an open bakery not too far from a parking spot. Eventually I found one.

I parked and went in to this little hole in the wall bakery in the middle of Rabbi Akiva street (THE main thouroughfare in Bnei Brak). As I am picking out my rogelach and bourekas, I began to over hear conversations. The fellow running the store was obviously a former yeshiva/kollel student. As people come through the store and pay, I notice that he knew all his customers (except me) by name. He greeted everybody who walked in and made suggestions based on what he knew they liked (today the chocolate ones came out really good, etc..). As people paid, he had brief conversations with them. He knew where each yeshiva guy learned, and where each working guy worked. He asked how they were doing.

Everybody who bought products there, left happy, not just with their purchases, but with having been noticed and not ignored.

Apr 27, 2006

milestone today!!

I passed the 5,000 hit mark today!!! I am not sure if that is good or not, but it happened. It could be mostly hits from my wife/brothers/parents/inlaws who check my page to see if I have posted anything new more often than I have time to actually post, or it could be there are actually some people other than family and friends who read my blog and come back for more. I hope you are enjoying it and I hope my posts are thought provoking and well-written.

Thank you all for checking in. Now, on to the next 5000!

kosher L'Pesach Johnny Walker?

If you scroll down to the end of the article (you do not even need to read it), you will see the Pesach wines offered.. 2 bottles of Johnny Walker Black Label. I was not aware that scotch (made from grains) was kosher l'pesach...


hat tip to aneinu who sent me this link, and hat tip to Yeshiva World (I think where aneinu got it from).

Apr 26, 2006

a metamorphasis in the Haredi community

This study analyzes the various changes goign on in the Haredi community as they become more integrated in the workplace... very interesting and eye-opening..

Mossad guy on The Daily Show

Check out the interview with Efraim halevy here

the other side of the Valis story

Whether you believe him or not, Valis does have his own side of the story and claims that his confession was coerced and fabricated. Don't call him a baby killer just yet, solely based on the original story...
Is it true? i do not know. I guess we will have to wait for the trial.

Apr 25, 2006

Where is Yossele, part II

Somehow they came to the decision that they can release Vales to house arrest, as he is not a danger to the public. I would assume that they were caving in to pressure form the haredi public, thought they will not say anything to that effect...

Granted, he is innocent until proven guilty. He is presently only a suspect and the elleged perpetrator of the abuse. It still must be proven in a court of law. However, to release him with no supervision? Is that not foolhardy? Will this become a new segment of the Where is Yossele saga? He does not need to wear an electronic cuff, he has to be supervised by his parents or grandparents and host to post a $50,000 bond. Is that somehow going to ensure he sits tight and waits for his trial? What are they thinking releasing him under these terms?

a multi-cultured holocaust thought

Every year at Yom Hashoa we have a short ceremony at work. Everyone comes to the center of the office. Someone turns on the radio right before 10:00 AM and puts it on the speaker system (we cannot hear the external siren where we are). All of the sudden the siren sounds and everyone (120 or so people) go silent for 2 minutes, each person thinking his own thoughts about the holocaust. After the siren completes, someone leads a ceremony with 2 chapters of Tehillim, a mishna, kaddish, the Kel Maleh tefilla remembering the dead, and then everyone together sings the famous rendition of Ani Maamin.

My office is comprised of a large variety of people. The mix includes pretty much the gamut of Jewish/Israeli society. We have old and young and middle age. We have religious and not religious. We have ashkenaz and sefard and hassidic(and if you want to break it down even more, every type of ashkenaz to every type of sefard to various hassidic sects). We have reps from a lot of different countries. We all stand there in silence and in thought during the 2 minute siren.

This is the kibbutz galuyot of Israel today (or as we used to call it in America, the Melting Pot). People from different backgrounds and cultures can stand together and think about a collective memory. Was the Ethiopian woman thinking about the Warsaw Ghetto uprising (the day is called Yom L'Zikharon Hashoah V'Hagevurah), the death marches or the strife her family suffered in Ethiopia? Was the Iranian guy next to me thinking about Babi Yar or the forced conscription of young Iranian Jews to be used to clear minefields in the prolonged Iran-Iraq war? Was the Russian lady thinking about the destruction of the ghettos of Poland or of her families persecution in Russia for being Jewish? Was the American guy thinking about how the worst he ever suffered was the shegetz screaming out "Kikes" as he ran by the yeshiva basketball courts or was he thinking about his grandparents who escaped from Aushwitz?

Does it matter? As Jews we have suffered through persecution and torture throughout history. We can think about recent history or we can think about ancient history. We do not lack events in our history, no matter what country or background you hail from. We think about our past to consider the suffering and exiles. Take this day and think about our collective pain. Normally, in the hustle and bustle of daily life, we do not have time to think about these things. We are too busy earning a living, raising our children or doing whatever, to be bothered. "Leave me alone about what happened 50 years ago, I don't have time for it." One day a year, even if it is just for the two minutes of the siren blaring, take the time and think about what it means to be a Jew, which we were never allowed to forget when the goyim came to murder us.

Yom Hashoa today..

Whether you stand during the siren, sit during the siren or do not hear the siren because you are in a foreign country (any country other than Eretz Yisrael is considered foreign to a Jew), this is an opportunity to think about and remember the Shoah and its victims, our anscestors.

At work, we will soon have a tekes after the siren, with a perek tehillim recited and the Kel Maleh Tefilla chanted. If I have time after the tekes, I will try to post some thoughts relevant to the day.

Apr 23, 2006

HH #66 will keep you busy!!

Perspectives of a Nomad did a very thorough job and provides plenty of reading material with many great posts...

I particularly enjoyed WestBankMama's post about the lesson from a passul sefer torah and Jewish Nation's thoughts about the recent terror victims, along with MultipleMentality's abbreviated haggadah post..

There were many others and 2 of my posts made the cut, so enjoy.. I have to get back to my reading now...

Apr 17, 2006

not kosher, but kosher for Passover?

Here you can see an "expose" where ynet discovers that McDonalds, in honor of Pesach, has removed its Hametz based desserts from its kids meals, but has not reduced the price. The criticism is that they effectively raised the prices of their products without informing the customer. McDonalds response is that it is a special Pesach menu and therefore not a price increase.
Whether they are right or wrong does not interest me. I do find it ironic though that McDonalds is not kosher, yet they have a kosher for Passover menu..
Even people eating at a non-kosher restaurant, nay - the symbol of non-kosher restaurants, still want to have some semblance of a connection to the Jewish Nation and its customs!
Mi K'Amcha Yisrael!!!

The bris!


The Bris ceremony went great! I had my cousins Shmuel and Chava who were recently married leading off at "Kvatter". Next up was me with my introductory passages that the father says before the bris. Then my friend who gives the daf yomi shiur placed the baby on the Chair of Eliyahu Hanavi and my brother in law removed the baby and gave him back to me.
Rav Gamliel Rabinovitz was then called to be the sandek. I had called him and asked if he would be the sandek and he said that while normally it would be very difficult for him to come during Chol Hamoed, but to be sandek of course he would. So we were zoche to have him come and honor us and bless the baby and the crowd. His picture is posted above.
I gave the baby to the Sandek and Rav Kornfeld, the Mohel, did what he does. Rav Pogrow then did the brachos and the baby naming with my father in law holding the baby.

It was a very special ceremony and I truly felt Eliyahu Hanavi's presence. The medrash relates that Hashem wanted to give Eliyahu Hanavi the job to be present at all bris milah ceremonies. Eliyahu refused. he was concerned that the father of the child might be a rasha or unworthy and he did not want to participate in an event with an unworthy person. So Hashem said, Ok. i will forgive the father of his sins and he will be righteous and you can participate. Eliyahu said what about the Mohel, What about the sandek, etc.. It continued with Eliyahu cajoling forgiveness otu of Hashem for various people until Eliyahu said that maybe somebody in the crowd will not be righteous. Hashem said, fine I will forgive everybody present at a bris, so you can participate. At that point Eliyahu Hanavi agreed to the task, after having secured God's forgiveness for eveyone present at every bris.
In this case, I had looked into various minhagim regarding the Chair of Eliyahu and found that it ranges from some who use one chair for both the sandek and Eliyahu to those who use separate chairs. Some place a chumash on the Chair of Eliyahu with it open to the Parsha of Pinchas to symbolize Eliyahu's presence. At the ceremony, as the sandek was settling into the large chair, we found it necessary to find something for him to put his feet on, as they were high up and the mohel needed to stabilize his knees. While someone was calling for a chair, a person nearby took the Chair of Eliyahu (a much lower chair) and was going to place it under the sandek's feet. The mohel stopped him and said he cannot do that as Eliyahu is using that chair. It is not just symbolic, but he is actually present.
I related the above midrash to Rav Gamliel at the conclusion of the bris and he said of course Eliyahu is here. he proceeded to give me and the baby brachos and added a bracha for everyone present.

And the winner is.. (drumroll please)

The baby's name is Shlomo Simcha. No, not after the singer. We have a double reason for each name.
Shlomo because we had just read Shir Hashirim on shabbos chol Hamoed which was written by Shlomo Hamelech. While I understand nothing about Shir Hashirim, as it is very difficult to comprehend (I have tried to learn it a few times but gave up), Artscroll says it is the highest allegorical description of the love between the nation of Israel and Hashem. That is appropriate now as a symbol of our love for hashem and His love for us, my love for my wife and our love for our children. As well, Shlomo built the Bes Hamikdash. Shlomo was also the name of a great uncle of Shifra's who was recently deceased. i happened to know him, as he lived in Chicago. he died at a ripe old age, somewhere in his 90's and was a talmid chochom and a wonderful and warm person.
Simcha because of the holiday and we are supposed to be besimcha during the holidays. He should bring us simcha not just in the holidays but all year long. Simcha was also an uncle on my mothers side who I was not zoche to ever meet as he perished in the holocaust.

If you are interested in reading my dvar Torah at the Bris, check it out here. The name explanation was the second half of my speech. (Then there were the thnk you which I will not go into here).

I will post next a couple of pics and a little about the bris itself.

Thank you for all the ideas of names. many people suggested many beautiful names.

Apr 11, 2006

chametz detector at the hospital

I went today to pick up my wife and baby from the hospital. I went in carrying a few bags of things she needed. One of the bags contained a few rogalach and burekas. To get into the hospital, one needs to pass through a metal detector and security guard.
Today, as I passed through with my bags, the security guard asked me if I have any bread or chametz in th bags. When I replied in the affirmative, he made me put that package back in the car. The hospital had already been cleaned for Pessach and they are not allowing chametz in any longer. The funny thing is that when I went in through the metal detectors and my Leatherman set off the alarm, he did not stop me and ask me if I am packing heat or weapons. He was more worried about the chametz than he was about the security issues.
Only in Israel!

Apr 9, 2006

MAZEL TOV!!!



This afternoon at 3:45 pm my wife gave birth to a beautiful baby boy. We are looking for suggestions of holiday themed names... No prize to the winner, I am just looking for ideas.. Here are a couple of pix of the newborn..

measuring your matzo

I remember when I was a teenager, I do not remember the exact age or year, the one year before Pessach, my brother brought home the newest thing. He was very excited. It was a luminated chart delineating the exact sizes one needed to eat of the various mitvot for the Pessach Sedder. There was a square for the matzo and a rectangle for the lettuce (marror) and another one if you only eat the stalks rather than the leaves, etc.

The colors on it were awful, something like a really ugly brown, yellow and orange. It woul.d not work today and has since been redesigned and redecorated to look nicer. But then it was new and everybody was excited to have it and measure out exactly how much matzo and marror they would need to eat. I remember we prepared everything in advance that year and had piles of pre-measured matzos and lettuce which were handed otu during the sedder at the appropriate times. I do not remember what we did for those of us that ate actual marror (cut horseradish root), but there was probably a section on the chart for that as well.

In the following years, I refused to use the chart, while other persisted. The chart has taken "root" (pardon the pun) in religious homes and can very commonly be found erev pessach as children prepare the sedder plate. While everyone else around the table pull out their plastic bags pre-prepared with matzo and marror, I grab my matzo out of the box and I cut my horseradish root at the table (this year I might separate my Romaine lettuce leaves at the table as well, as of yet undecided on that) and dig in.

Why have I rejected the use of the matzo chart? It seems like an excellent tool.

Back then when I was younger, I did not know why I rejected it, I just knew I did not like it. As I got older and thought about it more I realized why I did not like it, and why I like it even less now. The matzo chart allows a person to eat the exact amount of matzo/marror required by halacha. I do not remember how it relates to the different opinions in the size of the kezayis or other shiurim, but it probably takes the largest of the sizes. This is wonderful, as eating the matzo is a mitzva m'deoraisa (Torah mandated mitzva) which is rare in our day and age, as most are m'drabanan (Rabbinic mandated mitzva). By using the chart one can be sure that he has fulfilled the Torah mandated requirement.

So if the chart is so wonderful, why do you dislike it so much?

I dislike the chart because it gives me a feeling of doing the mitzvot with no emotion. It makes it into a cold premeditated act. While it is true that most of the mitzvot I do are like that, cold and with little emotion and just an act of rote, I do now and again notice that I am doing that and try to improve my mitzva observance. I feel I have matured in my observance as I matured in my age and I have improved many of my mitzvot and infused them with some emotion and some less rote/habit.
The chart makes me feel like I am measuring my mitzvot and doing the mitzva with precise exactness. That is not how life is lived (even though I am a yekke). I do not remember ever seeing someone finish his matzo from his pre-prepared bag and then lean over to the box of matzo and take more. The chart means you are measuring out exactly how much you do the mitzva, both for the minimum and for the maximum.

The maximum is what bothers me. I prefer to take my mitzva and eat it. If I eat too much, that is even better. The chart is good for the minimum, but who wants to do just the bare minimum?

Apr 8, 2006

Selling chametz... on ebay

Some guy thought of this great idea...

I am just not sure who will bid for this. Why would a non-Jew bid to buy someone's chametz? And why would a Jew bid for it? I would say it is a joke but he has 35 bids on record and the price is up to $255...

Apr 3, 2006

Crawling out of the woodwork..

Recently, a number of old friends with whom I have not been in touch in a very long time have "stumbled across" my blog and figured out who I am. That is pretty easy if you know me, because I put the main highlights of my bio right up there with most of my name.

Blogging has been great and a lot of fun. I find it helps develop my thoughts mroe fully. When I experience events, or witness events, I think about them more completely, and I think how would I commit this to paper and what message do I want to convey. I have gained tremendously from blogging.

This new phenomenon is an added benefit. All of the sudden I am in touch with old friends. The jewish world is smaller than ever before. I thought I am blogging fairly anonymously, even with my name and bio right up there. There are 13 million jews out there - how many of them are going to see my small inconsequential blog. And of all those people, how many of them could possibly know who I am? a few for sure, family members mostly and a few friends who also blog and read blogs. More than that, I never thought so. Now I see that all these guys are reading blogs (and some writing) and it is much more pervasive than I thought.

The JBlogosphere (wasn't someone running a contest to come up with a new name for the jblogosphere?) has shrunk the already small Jewish village and is bringing us all closer together...

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