Monthly Archives: April 2006

The Catskills…Ablaze with Chessed

I am a big fan of good news and seeing the tov in things. It happens to be something I daven for everyday. I couldn’t help but smile when I read the following story posted today from the Jewish Week,

It’s sad that this fire didn’t seem to make it into the media as much as the fire in Boro Park a few weeks ago. It must have been the worst feeling for those guests, erev Pesach to have to start worrying about where they would spend Yom Tov. Baruch Hashem, other hotels opened their doors and their hearts to those displaced yidden. During the time of Sefiras Ha’Omer we are given an opportunity to prepare ourselves to receive the Torah. The act of chessed whick took place in the Catskills is a great start. It serves as in inspiration to me.

There were police, firemen, Jews, and a fire. No rioting, no massive blogging about Chillul Hashem, no pointing the finger. Just Jews helping Jews. Rabbi Akiva would have approved.

The Mussar from a Haircut
Wecome to my first entry.
I got my pre-Pesach haircut yesterday. As a newcomer to Chicago, someone recommended a gentleman in my neighborhood, West Rogers Park. I walked in, sat down, and we started talking. He told me he gives haircuts to alot of orthodox people. In fact, he’s cut hair for 3 years olds, post-upsherin, (inlcuding kids that belong to some of my closest friends. Well, after the cut was finished, he held up the mirror, so I could take a look at the final product. “Now you look like a mentch. Of course, it’s not hard to look like a mentch, is it?” he said.

I was stunned. You know, he’s right. He’s never learned in cheder or opened a copy of Mesilas Yesharim. In fact, my new barber isn’t Jewish. This man who sees frum Jews 5 days a week for a living touched on a cornerstone of my Hashkafa. Acting like a Mentch is just as, if not more, important than looking like a Mentch. Klal Yisroel seems to have forgotten this. Just look at what happened last week in Boro Park. Or look at the person in the grocery store fighting with some for as space in line (especially before Pesach). What happened to being a Mentch Yisroel (for the Rav Hirsh fans reading this)?

My conversation at the barbershop sent me back in time almost 16 years ago. I was at YU and it was right after Lag B’Omer. Like everyone else it was time for haircut. I walked a few blocks and found a place that seemed off the beaten path. I had been sitting in the barber’s chair for about 2 minutes when in came Rabbi Dovid Lifshitz, Z”TL, the Suvalker Rav, and his shamash.
Reb Dovid, as he was known, sat next to me, and I froze. I had seen him around YU, heard about him, but never had any contact with someone of his caliber. “Nice day for a haircut”, he said. He then proceeded to ask me my name, where I was from, what brought me to YU, etc. He was interested in who I was. He didn’t mention anything about himself, except introducing himself to me as one of the teachers at YU.

Acting like a Mentch is just as, if not more, important than looking like a Mentch. My barber knew this, and Reb Dovid embodied it. What can we do to promote this lost yesod of yiddishkeit?