The Lighter Side of Being Uberdox

One of the things I enjoy most about using an eruv is walking to shul Shabbos morning with a cup of iced coffee. I’ve found it to be rather hot in Chicago, even when I go to a hashkama minyan. The iced coffee makes the walk all that much better. The minyan starts at 7:30 in the morning, but I’ll be honest, I usually get there by 7:49. So, I’m walking to shul, coffee in hand, and I see an older woman in her 60s-70s walking towards me on the sidewalk wearing a sweat-suit and a sun hat. As we get closer to each other I say, “Good morning,” expecting a similar response. Instead I get, in a thick russian accent, “Good Shabbos.” Beautiful!! The Berditchever would have loved this lady.

We’ve only been in Chicago since the beginning of March, and I really oscillate between two different shuls on a regular basis. I (and my family) really haven’t found our shul. There are plenty of places (B”H) to daven in West Rogers Park, but it’s hard to choose a makom where we want to daven. More often than not, I attend this hashkama minyan that is housed in a rather large congregation. The minyan is great. 50-70 men, a few women, d’var Torah after mussaf, and a great kiddush. Everyone is really friendly.

When I get home, I give my wife a copy of the Likutei Peshatim (Rafi and Zev will know what this is). It’s a fantastic weekly publication put out by the Hebrew Theological College (as I call it. Everyone else says “Skokie Yeshiva”) and contains several d’vrai Torah, a Halachic Corner, and several questions on the parsha. I think for most people the highlight is that it is really is the source for community announcements and mazal tovs. As I play with my kids my wife asks me, “Neil, where are your cuff-links that belonged to my grandfather?”
Good question. I wasn’t wearing them, but did wear them last Shabbos. “Why do you ask,” I answered.
My wife then quotes an annoucement in the Likutei Peshatim: “If anyone found a square shaped while gold cufflink with diamonds, lost this past Shabbos in West Rogers Park, please call 773-619-7875.”
Again, “Where are your cuff-links?”
I go to the bed room and look in my wife’s jewelry box. I grab both of them, and head back toward the living room. I stop and open the closet, then say, “Well, let me check my rain coat. I think I wore them the last time it rained.”
My wife then said, “Your rain coat? The one you left in shul for, like, a month?”
“Do you think I lost my cuff-links?” I asked with a smile. “And if I did, why wouldn’t I list our phone number,” I said as I handed her my cuff-links. As stated in a previous post or two, my wife is, more often than not, right about most things. This past Shabbos was the exception.

The rest of Shabbos Kodesh was just as great. After lunch, with the bribe of brownies and a trip to the park, my kids took a nap. A true rarity. Everyone had a great time at the park. My kids played, and I finished (for the second time) RABBI FREIFELD SPEAKS. It’s awesome. I never learned in Sh’or Yoshuv, but I’m close with people who do. BTW, I’ve been blessed to spend the Yorim Noraim there for the past two years and it’s an unbelievable experience.

Sunday night we made what my kids call “Abba Pizza”. It’s their fancy name for homemade pizza. One of the realities of moving from New York to Indianapolis was that for 7 1/2 years we were without a pizza shop (imagine that). Of course, whenever we were in NY or Chicago we’d eat pizza out, but my kids (girl 4 and boy 6 1/2) grew up with homemade pizza. When we moved to Chicago I kind of decided that we’d stick with making our own pizza (most of the time). I want my kids to grow up appreciating what they have. Just because there are places to get kosher pizza doesn’t mean that you have to go to them all the time.

I’ve got to start preparing for Midah #5, but I’ll end off with a quote from the Rav Freifeld book:

Our problem is not that we don’t have the opportunities
to grow. It is that we don’t have the proper will and desire to grow. In all
circumstances, there are always excuses. The kids were sick. The boiler broke. I
had to work overtime. I was so tired when I came home and had to spend time with
the family. We know the excuses, and they’re all valid excuses. But they don’t
really explain our failures.


We fail because we despair of being successful. We fail
because we do not belive that we have it within us to succeed. It is not the
interposition of obstacles that prevents us from succeeding, but our own lack of
confidence and determination and sheer will.


We fail because we are making a
mistake. Because the truth is that we do have it within us to succeed. Because
the truth is that each of us possesses the most incredible divinely-empowered
instrument that can help us smash all obstacles and scale all peaks. It is
called the human will. (Page 25)


This is pure Slaboka, passed down from the Alter (Rav Nosson Zvi Finkel) to Rav Hunter to Rav Freifeld. It’s how I humorously define Modern Uberdox… rising above what you think you can do.



11 thoughts on “The Lighter Side of Being Uberdox

  1. Rafi G

    ice coffee before davening? I love that idea! (though I do not like coffee, so I would have to go with chocoalte or something similar).

    Rav Freifeld is right on the mark with the comment you quoted.

    Reply
  2. Pragmatician

    An eruv is a blessing!Makes life so much easier.
    We have a similar community newsletter appearing free of charge in shul evey week, I usually jump right to the announcements.
    So how did it feel to be right?:)

    Reply
  3. Neil Harris

    Hey, I’m all for pushing my kids in a stroller, and carrying a tallis bag, why not a drink?

    Prag- It felt nice, but, I’ll probably be 60 before I’m right again. 🙂

    Reply
  4. Okee

    great post! great blog, too! And it’s called just “the ye-shih-va” and not ye-sheeva, right? I’m right, right? (I have many midwestern sources…)

    Reply
  5. Dave

    My wife is from Chicago, and having been there many times over the years to visit, I’ve never found a shul that I felt comfortable at. But when I was there this past Pesach I found what I think is likely the same 7:30 you refer to. I really enjoyed it – well run, quick, not a lot of talking by the participants.

    Reply
  6. Neil Harris

    okee- I have no idea why it’s pronounced “yeh-shivvah”

    Dave-Thanks for stopping by, your blog looks interesting. I was in Chicago for part of Pesach also, probably davened next to you. The shul goes by it’s initials…

    PT-Pizza isn’t everything, but it helps.

    Reply
  7. Sharon Shapiro

    My husband and I grew up in Chicago and still don’t have a shul we are thrilled with! However, my husband’s favorite is the early 7:30am minyon, where he davens most every shabbos.

    Before we had kids, we did not use the eruv. It was more out of habit or custom, since there was not always an eruv in Chicago, and my husband’s family grew up without using one. Right before I had my first, I said – we either use the eruv or we move to a community whose eruv you hold by, cause I am not spending the next (well, at current count) 10 years stuck at home every shabbos. So we used the eruv and stayed in Chicago. However, we still only carry things that are an absolute must, like the baby! We will likely limit what we carry, or not carry at all, once all our kids are old enough to walk on their own and not need supplies (diapers, bottles, bibs, etc.) – not because we don’t hold by the eruv, but just to keep l’kavod shabbos in mind. As you said about store bought pizza – just because we can do it, doesn’t mean we should in every instance.

    Ironically, my first introduction to Don Pepinos pizza sauce (my favorite for making homemade pizza) was from a couple who lived in Indianapolis who made pizza themselves out of necessity. We loved it so much, we started making our own pizzas back in Chicago.

    Reply
  8. Neil Harris

    Sharon,
    I’m familiar with the sauce. I’m curious who the couple was? it happens to be a great minyan, as your husband knows. I only wish it was a 8:00 am. 🙂
    An eruv is a wonderful thing, if used with the right intentions. For the record, I only got a block away from my home before I finished my coffee, and then threw it in a friends’ garbage container (it’s not really a can). As I understand it, we really are meant to carry things that we need within an eruv. For example, to bring sefer Shemos to shul in your tallis bag on Shabbos (when we’re in Devarim)would be an example of something that we don’t need.
    Sounds like you and your husband have a solid plan in terms of phasing out your carrying on Shabbos.
    Thanks for taking a look at the blog and commenting.

    Reply

Leave a Reply to Pragmatician Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *