Monday, October 31, 2011
Not to drink milk or eat milk products, even chalav yisroel and even if the carton has yiddish writing on it.
Where does that crazy idea come from???
Very simple. Research has shown that about 30 percent of the cows in any given herd are trief [meaning that they have some hidden blemish that will shorten their life-span] and therefore their milk is not kosher. When their milk is mixed with the kosher cows milk the necessary ratio to nullify the unkosher milk would be 60 to 1. One doesn't have to have a post-doc from M.I.T. [The Monsey Institute of Talmud] to figure out that 70 percent against 30 percent is nowhere near 60 times. Ergo [I don't think I've ever used that word in a regular sentence and I am probably misusing it. But I often note that my high school english teacher is dead so I am free to make as many mistakes as I choose. I make liberal use of this freedom. And may her soul rest in more peace than I gave her on earth], when we mix all the milk together, everything becomes "treifed up".
Not so crazy sounding anymore.
Hope you like meat.
Solution for lovers of Ben and Jerry: There is a rule that we follow the majority. This means that if the majority of cows are kosher, when we look at each individual cow we say to her "Cowee - you are kosher". So, yes, we are not oblivious to the fact that any given cow might be treif but since we have the biblical mechanism to follow the majority, we are able to Kasher every individual animal. So it emerges that we no longer have a ratio of 70 to 30 but of 100 to none in favor of kosher cows.This religion is GREAT!! Note - Not everybody accepts the aforementioned solution and they insist that we still remain with a minority of unkosher cows and since all the milk is mixed together we view it as a majority of kosher milk and a minority of unkosher milk, rendering the whole thing [due to the insufficient amount of kosher milk necessary to nullify the unkosher milk] trief. They drink coffee without milk. They don't eat Ice Cream. They are heroes of self control!
One last question - How do those Israelis get the milk to penetrate those sealed bags??
The truth is I haven't seen a movie in the last five years, and that was for only a minute. Even though I graduated from film school and wrote screenplays in Hollywood, and still make short videos from time to time on subjects like Gush Katif and Amona, after becoming a ba'al t'shuvah, I gradually lost all desire for the make-believe world of the movies.
But five years ago, my wife had an urge to see a movie, and she insisted that I take her.
"Go with a friend," I suggested.
"I don't want to go with a friend," she answered. "I want to go see a film with my husband."
I offered to rent a video that she could watch on the computer. But she was adamant. Either we go to a movie together or we get a divorce. Of course, I am exaggerating, but she made me understand that if I didn't give in, I was going to be in for a lot of trouble.
So, I went downstairs in our building to my parents' apartment to take a look at the Jerusalem Post movie guide. Finally, I found a movie that seemed alright. The blurb said that it was based on a true story about an aging British novelist, Iris Murdoch, who had Alzheimer's disease. How immodest could that be, I thought? Since my mother suffered from Alzheimer's, I figured maybe I could learn something about the disease and, at the same time, make my wife happy.
At the ticket window, I asked if there were commercials before the film, since commercials in Israel are usually filled with models who are not exactly dressed according to the standards of Jewish Law. After being assured that there were no commercials at this theater, we bought tickets and made our way inside. Indeed, there were no commercials, but there were previews of upcoming attractions. The first was a new Italian release featuring a half-naked actress.
"Gevalt!" I yelled out.
Heads turned our way in the darkened theater. My wife tugged at my arm. "Don't you dare!" she whispered.
The next preview was even worse.
"Gevalt!" I screamed out again.
My wife sunk down in her chair as if she wanted to disappear. I heard a scattering of chuckles and someone shouted for me to shut up.
"I told you we should have stayed at home," I said to my wife.
Finally, the movie started. Up on the screen, in poetic slow motion, a pretty young woman walks through the woods, down to the bank of a pond, obviously a flashback to the old woman's youth.
In one deft motion, she reveals her entire self.
Cut to underwater. Still in slow motion, the actress swims through the crystal clear depths....
"Fire! Fire!" I screamed out in Hebrew. Continuing to scream, I jumped out of my seat and made my way to the corridor. "Fire! Fire!" I yelled as I hurried out of the theater, leaving my poor wife to watch the movie alone.
Needless to say, my wife doesn't ask me to take her to films anymore. I waited for her in the car.
"You were right," she said, when she rejoined me after the movie. "Every ten minutes of the film, they returned to the flashback of the old lady as a young woman swimming uncladded
What else is new? After spending several years in Hollywood, you learn that in movie-making, the bottom line is the box-office gross. You can't expect your average moviegoer to sit two hours through a movie about an old lady with Alzheimer's disease without throwing in a little nudity every ten minutes to keep them munching away on their popcorn.
For the same reason, I couldn't watch Schindler's List. Every ten minutes, some Nazi butcher was jumping into bed with a Jewish girl. Spielberg could have gotten the point across without the nudity, but that's what sells tickets.
Think I am exaggerating? Let me give you another example. Several years ago, I was asked to lecture to a group of yeshiva students from South Africa. When they showed up late, I asked what happened. They explained that they had a few free hours, so they went to see a movie, Titanic.
"The Titanic!" I exclaimed. "Seeing a movie like that is worse than eating pork!"
All the guys booed. "The cinematography was great," they proclaimed.
"Since when does great cinematography override the Torah prohibitions of, 'You shall not turn after your hearts and after your eyes to lead you astray,' and 'You shall guard yourself from every evil thing,' meaning you should not look at prohibited matters by day and come to impure emissions at night?" (Avodah Zara 20B; Niddah 13A)
"It's a completely clean movie," one of the students insisted.
"Look, guys," I told them. "I haven't seen the movie, but you don't have to have ruach hakodesh (Divine inspiration) to know that there is bound to be a pretty girl and a good-looking guy on board. Once the ship hits the iceberg, they have to find some way to consummate their passion before the ship sinks into the cold, unloving ocean. Am I right?"
They answered with grumbles.
"Whether you guys like it or not, watching an attractive actress on a movie screen for two hours, and exposing yourselves to that kind of ongoing visual stimulation, is a no-no for a Jew."
A year later, I drove one of my sons to an out-of-town yeshiva for an interview. Finishing late, we decided to spend the night at a hotel, rather than starting out on the long trip back to Jerusalem. "The movie Titanic is playing on cable," my boy informed me. "Can we watch?"
"What the heck?" I figured. Many people had advised me to see the movie, to see all of the wondrous cinematography and special effects, so I agreed to watch a few minutes.
How does the great award-winner start? We are back once again underwater. This time, we are following the point of view of the camera as it is moves toward the sunken ship and enters into a porthole. After a few mysterious turns down empty corridors, we enter an eerily undisturbed cabin. We pass by a large canopy bed and move toward a dresser, zooming in to a screen-filling close-up of a framed photograph of - you guessed it - a girl dressed as Eve before the sin. And this is the movie that almost every Jewish boy in the world, from the age of eight to eighty, has seen who knows how many times.
The point is that the eyes are the windows to the soul, and forbidden images, whether we want to face it or not, pollute a Jew's soul with a terrible impurity.
In his book Kuntres HaAvodah, Rebbe Sholom Dov Ber of Lubavitch, one of the early great rabbis of the Chabad Hassidic movement, writes the following: Everyone who is concerned about his soul, not to pollute it, G-d forbid, should guard over his eyes. And if this is difficult for him, he should endeavor to restrain himself with all of his strength and might. He must take to heart that this matter is instrumental to the well-being of his soul. If he does not guard himself in this matter, then all of his Divine service is accounted as nothing, and all of his achievements are as naught, and his service of G-d will fall lower and lower....
Behold, there are people who are far from actually committing evil deeds, G-d forbid, but their hearts pull them to look and stare [at women]. They gaze with a seemingly cold detachment, and they do not feel any immediate excitement when they look, but the reason for their being attracted is because they experience an inner pleasure.... This gazing, even with seeming detachment, creates an impression and a great stain on the soul, which will not go away without arousing some actual evil in its wake, G-d forbid....
Thus, it is every man's duty to control himself and to guard over the things he sees. In so doing, he will save himself from evil, and his service of G-d will find favor. He will bring salvation to his soul, and he will rise higher and higher. (Kuntres HaAvodah, ch. 2. For an English translation and commentary, see the book Love Like Fire and Water, Moznaim Publishing Corp)
The nation of Israel is called upon to be a holy nation. Just as we have to be careful what we eat, we have to be careful what we see. When a man feasts his eyes on the beauty of another woman, even if just her face, these images poison the purity of the Jewish soul.
Sunday, October 30, 2011
Thanks for letting me share!!:-)!
Am I nuts? Well, of course, but that's besides the point....
What sorta crazy chumra is thaaaaat?
Vell, not so fast. Some people hear new ideas and are quick to express an uneducated opinion based soley on ... emotion. [I LIKE that line. Feel free to use it when you want to put down an opponent in an argument:-). CHAS VI-SHALOM!]
Open up a Menachos, turn to 34a look at Rashi dibbur hamaschil "Lul". It would seem to emerge from that Rashi that our elevators ARE obligated in mezuza. Uh oh!!
Well, if you live chutz la'aretz your building is probably owned by goyim so no mezuza. But in Israel??
Well, there are poskim who say that an elevator does not require a mezuza but many argue that it does [see the sefer "shaarei mezuza" for all the sources]. The remaining question is where exactly to affix the mezuza, on the right or left side of the entrance and if every floor requires one or only the lobby. That, too, is a big dispute.
If you are in Bnei Brak you will no longer be surprised when you see that they have mezuzas on their elevators.
In the Old City none of the buildings have mezuzas on their elevators.
In the Old City none of the buildings have elevators.
But we do have a lot of Arabs who prefer cigarettes and faded jeans... When I see them I sort of want to go into an elevator and be on a different floor.
And remember - kissing the mezuza is a much, much later custom mentioned nowhere [to my limited knowledge] in our earlier sources. But kissing your grandmother is a BIG mitzva. So kiss the mezuza but even more so your grandma!! And if you are with your grandma in an elevator, try to make pleasant conversation [maybe about mezuzas "Grandma - describe the prettiest mezuza case you have ever seen"].
It is SOOO awkward in there.
Saturday, October 29, 2011
There is actually a WEALTH of literature on this tpoic. One gentlemen penned a tome called "Birkos Chaim" proving that it MUST be said with a segol - hageshem. Otherwise one must burn [I made the last part up. He didn't mention the burning:-)]. Another gentlemen answered with something called "Mashiv Haruach" where he claimed hagoshem is the way of G-d. The first gentlemen answered back. It was fierce.
And the fight continues. Rav Yaakov Kaminetzky, the recently niftar Rav Menashe Klein and Rav Nosson Geshtetner opine with hageshem. Rav Moshe Feinstein and Rav Yisrael Yaakov Fisher [the head of the Badatz who was asked and refused to give a haskomo to the aforementioned "Birkos Chaim" because he didn't agree with the contents] assert that one should say hagoshem. Rav Solovietchik is on the hageshem side. I say hageshem because I can't decide who to follow and I like the way hageshem sounds more than hagoshem. Isn't that silly?
The best answer I saw is from Rav Ephraim Greenblatt of Memphis/Har Nof - either way is fine and follow your minhag.
The bottom line - Hashem should send us RAIN no matter how we pronounce it!!
Note: Jews love Hashem. We are so keen on pronouncing every word correctly and will spend valuable minutes of our lives trying to determine the truth on a seemingly insignificant shyla.
Friday, October 28, 2011
The first two parshiyot of Sefer Breishit may seem on the surface to depict a somewhat negative view and depiction of humankind. Man enters the world, man sins. Noach was saved from destruction, only to sin in its aftermath. As we read these tales, I cannot help but think about one of the fundamental truths of Judaism is that we man is inherently good. Indeed it was only in last week's parsha we read that G-d blew life into mankind, giving each of us a piece of Himself and thereby making us Godly and goodly by nature. So how do we understand the sinful behavior, and how do we reconcile two seemingly opposing views of mankind within the parshiot.
I think a better understanding reveals that there is no contradiction at all. Mankind is inherently good; it is when we forget this truth and we are led astray that we falter. Let us start at the beginning. After Adam sins, Hashem approaches Noach with the famous question, "ayecha" – "where are you"? Of course the question was not about his physical place in space, but instead Hashem wanted to know where is your essence that is good and pure and how have you distanced yourself from it?
A similar story can be told of Noach, whose righteousness was questioned because he did not try to prevent the flood by influencing those around him to repent. The Meshech Chochma explains the root of Noach’s mistake was a lack of faith in himself – he did not think he could influence others for the better. Because he did not recognize his potential for good, he did not live up to it.
In the same way, Chazal explain his sin after the flood when he became drunk. The essence of the sin was that Noach opted to plant a vineyard instead of a wheat field that would have offered sustenance for the world and could have marked the start of new life. All along, Noach he did not realize that from him the world could be repented, recreated, and renewed.
If Noach had the power to recreate worlds, than certainly we have the potential to make changes for the better in our world. And this is the message of the troubling verse: "I will no longer curse the earth because of man, for the yetzer of man's heart is evil from his youth" (8:21). The word yetzer is often translated as desires, but it can also mean creation – in other words, the things that man creates in his heart is often what confuses us and leads us to the wrong path - it is our own musings and judgments of ourselves that we create, rather than the instincts that come from deep within - that might lead us astray from our own self and own inner desires.
And so in answering our original question we see that indeed mankind is not inherently evil or doomed for failure; in fact we learn that it is this attitude and approach that leads us to sin. We must be always aware of our most inner good, and not let our self-doubts prevent us from following our Godly, moral, and pure instincts - so that we can stay aware of our inner Godliness and stay true to our inner good, and in so doing we can influence others by letting the inner good shine through and bring goodness into the world. Shabbat Shalom & Chodesh Tov, Taly
Thursday, October 27, 2011
Is it his fault that his son is wavering? Clearly not!
Is it the neighborhood's fault? He lives in the frummiest neighborhood in town!
School's fault? Most kids in the school are doing just fine religiously!
So whose fault is it?
Answer: Why blame??! Maybe nobody is at fault!
There are quite a few wonderful families who have a child or more at risk. People like to blame the parents but frankly, very often the parents are guiltless. Sometimes, the parents are horrible - then they should take some of the blame. Otherwise, it's really not their fault.
So the bottom line is - have a loving relationship with your spouse, set a good personal example, spend quality and quantity time with your child, don't pressure him too much, make sure there is firm loving discipline, moniter [or ban] use of technology such as facebook, send him to a good school and daven a lot.
The rest is out of your hands.
[PS - This post doesn't contradict but complements the previous post.]
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
Nothing, though, for GOOD KIDS who like to play soccer and to do chesed who just don't have the desire to sit and learn non-stop. Kids who need love and warmth and not just another Tosfos. There are loads of kids off the derech today and part of the reason is the rigidity of the educational system. [Another reason is the internet we are both connected to.... but that's another story.]
When I was in Chaim Berlin we once played basketball against Torah Vo'daas! In Israel that would be unheard of. "The Mir against Ponovitch". Never. But maybe it is healthy for kids to play ball. Kids are kids. Old boring men like me have no interest in sports anymore but that doesn't mean that kids shouldn't be allowed to be kids.
The Solution: Somebody should start a school for top notch kids - who are allowed to be kids. And maybe some secular studies on the side so that a child will one day have the means to earn a living which unfortunately doesn't exist in the Charedi system. In Kelm they taught secular studies in High School and Kelm was the frummiest place around, as those students of the history of the mussar movement know.
The Problem: Money. And not being ostracized.
The Solution: Overcome the problems and obstacles! [We all have a loving Father with limitless assets.]
Even though I am a big proponent of Aliya [as is Hashem!!:-)] the educational system in Israel is one possible reason not to come.
One note: The level of learning and frumkeit in many of the Yeshivas far exceeds the standard in the non charedi school system. That's why I send my kids there. My fourteen year old son has a friend who knows all six sedarim of mishna BY HEART and he has other friends on the way. Last year he learned maseches succah and the boys in his class were memorizing the whole mesechta. My 14 and 12 year old sons and their classmates know enough to be Rabbeim in numerous post high school yeshivos for American modern orthodox kids. So it's not all bad...
Those are my two cents. If you want to take this idea further you are blessed.
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
Monday, October 24, 2011
But yesterday I had one I will share. I am at my daughter Gila's wedding and I am crying inconsolably. Not from joy but because I am shattered - I just couldn't bear the thought of losing her. She looked like an angel. Wearing a wedding gown, pure face, no makeup, simply angelic. I looked at her and was bawling. Someone I know was standing there completely unsympathetic to my plight.
I learned a number of things from this dream. One thing was that I never realized how much I love my daughter. I always knew I love her but never realized to what extent. So I will try to appreciate her more and enjoy her before that day when I will, I hope happily, give her away to her chosson. I will also try to remember that she is a gift from Above and treat Him as one treats a kind and infinitely generous benefactor.
May they build home where the Shechina resides. I am sure these two holy people will!! The wedding was beyond simchi'dik! The wedding took place at Moshav Orah - a "dwelling of light". How fitting!
Once I am giving mazel tovs - To Reb Daniel Eliyahu Ross and his wife on the borth of TWINSSSS!!! Mazel Tov, Mazel Tov!! Those who know Reb Daniel know what a unique simcha it is!
To Reb Yehoshua Zev Richman and his wife on the birth of TWINSSSSSS!!!!! Mazel Tov Mazel Tov!!
Let's go to MINNESOTA!!!
To Reb Yechezkel Tannenbaum and his wife on the birth of their first daughter!!
To C.A.F. one of our most faithful readers and holiest Jewesses on her BIRTHDAY!!!!
And, on a somber note, I feel deep anguish and sadness upon the passing of a true baalas emunah, who bravely fought the angel of death until he prevailed, Meira Reimer. May her special and dedicated husband Reb Daniel Simcha and her family find nechama in the building of tzyion and tchiyas hameisim SPEEDILY IN OUR DAYS!!! I [among hundreds of others] was deeply moved by the eulogies and feel humbled knowing what heights one can reach at such a young age. May we all be moved to appreciate our health and life while we have it and never waste a moment granted to us as a Divine gift never to be taken for granted.
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
Take a peak at this weeks parsha. "Etzem may'atzamai ubasar mi'bsari" - A bone from my bones, flesh from my flesh. According to the Zohar Hakadosh this was not a one time event but reflects the reality of every couple until this very day.
So who is my wife?
And "me" I love unconditionally and I spend most of my time thinking about him. What makes him happy, makes me happy. When he is eating, I am enjoying and when he is in pain I feel it exactly as he does. My wife is me, so she deserves the same feelings.
My mother, my father? I love them dearly, but when I get married I separate. "Al keyn yaazov..." - A man, the Torah teaches, must leave his parents and cling to his wife. [My parents didn't want to keep me anyway. 22 years was more than enough for them:-)]
Sweetest friends, almost all problems of marital discord would be solved if this attitude were internalized.
Love and blessings!!!
Monday, October 17, 2011
Sunday, October 9, 2011
I add that it also stands for תהא שנה בלי עצבות and תהא שנה בלי עצבנות - It should be a year without sadness and a year without tension!!
Thursday, October 6, 2011
SO I ASK EVERYONE FOR FORGIVENESS FOR ALL ACTS OF COMMISSION OR OMMISSION I MIGHT HAVE COMMITTED AGAINST YOU - INTENTIONALLY OR NOT!!!
MAY WE BE BETTER FRIENDS THIS YEAR!!!!
LOVE TO ALL AND A GMAR CHASIMA TOVA!!!
[PS - Some say "gmar tov". This sounds to me like a wish that the person die a peaceful death ["a good ending"]. So I stick with gmar chasima tova!]
Wednesday, October 5, 2011
You can hear the chants from a mile away: “Repent ye sinners! Repent or suffer in thou fiery flames of eternal consequence!”
A cross-eyed & painless homeless man wanders throughout New York’s Grand Central Station, distributing flyers that proclaim: “The end is near! Return to thou lord or perish in doom!” Despite many such attempts at arousing the masses toward spiritual revival, these interventions have yet to incite even the mildest societal shift away from the material in favor of the spiritual. Whether or not the one doing the threatening has seen a shower in the past decade, fear-tactics and daunting threats have proven relatively ineffective in generating any meaningful, long-term improvements in human behavior. We don’t say no to drugs because Nancy Reagan shows us a picture of scrambled eggs in a frying pan and tells us: “this is your brain on drugs.” We say no to drugs because we cherish life too much to tamper with it. Those who feel they have nothing to cherish, will not hesitate scrambling that nothingness like eggs in a pan. In the words of Bob Dylan: if you ain’t got nothing, you got nothing to lose.
Having something to lose means you have something to love. It means you have a passion. Pick a passion. Any passion. For all I care, you’re passion could revolve around the preservation of endangered South African geese. In the end, it’s not the ‘what’ in life, but having a ‘why’ for which to live. Humans have always thrived most vibrantly when their consciousness entirely absorbs itself in a vision they can’t quite describe in words but can vividly experience on a deeper level of their psyche. A life devoid of ideals will rapidly extinguish any flames of fervor that might have once enlivened a child who dreamed of bigger things than traffic updates and intermittent caffeine fixes. Aspiration gives vigor to life. Love fuels all aspiration. A ‘like’ may cut it for Facebook. But only a ‘love’ will cut it for life.
Love is irrational. In Talmudic terms: Love bends the straight line. The Baal Shem Tov once quipped that all dancers are crazy in the eyes of he who can’t hear the music. Each life marches to the subliminal beat of its own drummer. In the words of Carl Jung: every individual is an exception to the rule. We live in an ultra-rational world. Over the past decade, humanity has undergone a massive conversion from the manual and interpersonal to the automatic and digital. We are profiled. Tagged. Followed. Un-followed. Poked. Liked. Linked. Suggested. Transferred. Synced. Described in less than 140 characters: I am just one drop in an endless sea of billions of cyber-bits. But this is just an outfit I wear. It’s not who I actually am. Who I truly am cannot be encapsulated by the confines of words or profile pictures. It can only be experienced through the reflection of that which I choose to love. Being rational and realistic may be very efficient. But it isn’t very loving. A ladder that’s grounded in the earth is only as good as the heights its head is willing to reach. Jews have always been dreamers. Why stop now? Oliver Wendell Holmes once wrote: Where we love is home, home that our feet may leave, but not our hearts.
Tshuva is returning to this home. The home where we can love and dream and irrationally dabble in that small part of us which retains its pure naiveté – that our feet may have left, but never our hearts.
Home, sweet home.
As an addendum to Reb Mordechai Yehoshua Shlita, we may note that the pasuk says about Shmuel ותשובתו הרמתה כי שם ביתו which literally means that he returned to Ramah because that was his home, but can also mean he did Teshuva to Ramah because that was home. Teshuva is returning home [this was noted by Rav Kook, Rav Soloveitchik and many others].
Tuesday, October 4, 2011
Monday, October 3, 2011
Or in the words of our holy sages - טובה מרדות אחת בלבו של אדם יותר ממאה מלקיות