Monthly Archives: November 2007

Make your own Uberdox Post

Pick a, b, or c and have fun!!

The other day I was ________ and I was reminded about very deep mussar concept that is usually overlooked.
a) thinking about Star Wars
b) listening to an old hardcore punk rock album
c) reading either R Hirsch or R Dessler

Interestingly enough this concept was manifested in something my kids _______ last night before bedtime.
a) did
b) said
c) ate

I was then reminded of a story about ________ that had a profound impact on me when I was becoming Torah observant.
a) R Yisrael Salanter
b) R Nachman of Breslov
c) coffee

The story has to do with how we use our ________ to the best of our abilities.
a) time
b) unique talents
c) free wireless connections

This lesson isn’t really focused on so much in ________, but really starts at home.
a) the yeshiva/day school system
b) most blogs
c) your average kehillah

I guess, in the end, getting to know yourself can be a pretty difficult job. Thanks for reading. An actually post will be popping up soon.

Tehillim session in Chicago on Monday night

As the Annapolis Conference nears, we must respond with
prayer and action
Join the Chicago Jewish community at an
7:00 PM @ Congregation K.I.N.S.
2800 W North Shore Ave, Chicago, IL 60645 – (773) 761-4000
featuring remarks by RABBI PESACH LERNER
Executive Vice President,National Council of Young Israel

Have a good…uh…legal holiday?

I’m usually at a loss of what to say around Thanksgiving. Some people get offended that I tell them to, “Have a good Thanksgiving”. Others seem to be shocked that I don’t wish them a “good Thanksgiving”.

It has sort of become an either “too frum” or “not frum enough” issue. For the individual that tries to be ethically sensitive to others, it’s just plain confusing.

It’s much easier to say “Gut Shabbos Kodesh”, “Good Shabbos”, or “Shabbat Shalom” to people. There are those that I’ve said “Gut Shabbos” to and they simply reply, “Shabbat Shalom”. I make a mental note when this happens so that next week I will say, “Shabbat Shalom” to them.

I do this based on something I learned from R Moshe Weinberger on Shavuos in 2005 (or in 5768, if you were offended by me using 2005). He said that when R Shlomo Zalman Aurbach was asked to be the Me’sadar Kedushin or be asked to read a Ketubah for Sephardim he would use the Sephardic pronunciation for his Hebrew (evris or evrit, if you will).

Again, with Thanksgiving, you really don’t know which team people are on. I suppose I’ll stick to my guns and wish people I see a “good Thanksgiving”. If they don’t like it, I’m sure I’ll find out about it and make a mental note for next year.

Refuah needed…

I just read at Dixie Yid, that Refael Moshe ben Miriam (Filler), needs a refuah. As a staff member at NCSY’s Camp Sports (1993-1996), I’ve seen first hand the success that R Filler has had with his kiruv program for Spanish speaking yidden. Please include this choleh in your tefillos.

Black Hat tip from Dixie Yid (in fact the post is copied from him).

It’s bad new for the Jews in Uman.

Rabbi Lazer Brody has the full story on what is going on with the corrupt Ukranian government officials that is threatening Jewish ownership and control of the Shul and area by Rebbe Nachman’s kever in the Ukraine. You must read this and then please, contact your Senators, congressman, and the President to ask them to please intervene with the Ukranian government to save Uman!

Regardless of where you live, you can contact them at the following links.

Use THIS LINK to find and contact your Congressman in the House of Representatives.

And CLICK HERE to e-mail or call your Senator about this.

And CLICK HERE to e-mail, call or write the President of the U.S. to ask him to intervene in this scandalous matter with the Ukranian government.

UPDATE: Here are the specific names that you should either contact or ask your representatives to contact. This is from R’ Akiva at

Ukrainian Ambassador to the United States:Dr. Oleh SHAMSHUR,
“Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary”Mr. Olexandr ALEKSANDROVYCH,
Embassy Minister-Counselor on Economic, Cultural, and Informational issues.Dr. Olexandr SCHERBA, Embassy Political Department – Counselor to Congress & Jewish organizations.Contact info: Ukrainian Embassy to the United States -tel:1-202-333-0606, fax:1-202-333-0817

For more info read this.


We all have them. Some of them are good, others are not so good. Some manifest themselves as traits, middos (tov v’ra), and personality quarks. Here are a couple of examples of habits that I’ve taken note of over the past few months:

1. We spent about a month before Rosh Hashana trying (with success in the end) to de-Crocify our son. He spent a fun filled summer wearing his Crocs almost every day. While we were happy to see him enjoying them, the downside is that once you start wearing Crocs your foot feels very confined in anything else (I will attest to this). Throughout Elul he had been wearing his new Shabbos/Yom Tov shoes around the house so that he can get use to them. At first there was great resistance. “They are not a comfortable as my Crocs”, was a common line from him. With patience and effort he successfully wore ‘regular’ shoes all Rosh Hashanah without too many complaints (only to relish in the fact that he could rock his Crocs on Yom Kippur). I realized during the month that were letting him get use to his Shabbos shoes, that some habits are easier to break with when attacking them in small doses (like slowly chiseling away at something bit by bit). This technique is used in popular Shemiras Ha’Lashon programs, where in individual makes a commitment not to speak Lashon Horah from a set amount of time.

2. Recently we stayed with my brother-in-law, his family, and their two dogs. My one year old Uberbaby daughter was not to hip to the dogs at all. For the first 5 days she could cry if a dog came near her. We debated about what to do to get her acclimated to the pets. At first we tried to get her to pet them and sit next to them. Well, she happens to be a pretty fast crawler and is becoming a confident walker, too. So we then opted to do nothing. We simply allowed her to get use to seeing us interact with the dogs and go about our business. Within, as I wrote, 5 days, her fear was gone. She would pet them and even give them her food. This approach of breaking a habit by watching others set an example happens to be one of the most effective middos management tools used both in chinuch and more importantly, in the home.

3. I do a lot of our grocery shopping. Usually, I’ll pick up non-food items at one store and then get actual food at one of several stores in the area. Because of time constraints prior to the Yom Tovim this year I found myself doing massive shopping at one store that has both non-food, food, and extensive kosher deli/bakery/take-out as well (if you live in Chicago, the name of the store happens to rhyme with the word cool) and it seemed to take forever. I was very frustrated by this. Mostly by the fact that I wasn’t so familiar with all the aisles and where certain products were. I was in the habit of not knowing my way around the store.

After Yom Kippur I was reading an article in Fast Company (one of my favorite websites and mags) about Design Thinking and I realized that I could use the concepts behind design thinking to help me with my grocery shopping issue. In brief, if you haven’t read the entire article yet, the ideas behind Design Thinking are:

  1. Define the problem
  2. Create and consider many options
  3. Refine selected directions
  4. Pick the winner, execute

Applying the steps of Design Thinking to spending less time in a particular grocery store might look like this:

  1. The problem is that I don’t know my way around
  2. My options might be that I could study a map of the store, do more shopping there, spend my lunch hour walking around the store to see where things are, or just not change a thing
  3. Doing more shopping there might help, but the learning curve will be slow. I like the idea of spending my lunch hour there. The extra exercise wouldn’t hurt me.
  4. I started walking around the store and I feel like I have a better grasp of which aisle I can find things like: plastic wrap, flour, rubbing alcohol, chullent beans, and toothpaste.

One cool thing about the first step (Define the problem) is that it really make you think. At first glance, it might seem like the problem was that grocery shopping took to long. That’s really not the problem. The problem was that I didn’t know my way around the store.
The Design Thinking approach can also help with things like anger. Why do we get angry? Usually it seems on the surface to be for different reasons. I’ll use the example that happens to me. I get upset or angry sometimes when my son doesn’t do something right away when I ask him (of course this is only a reflection of the same lacking on my own part). But that’s not the real reason I get angry. I was zoche to be in Woodmere, NY to hear Rav Moshe Weinberger’s 2005 Shabbos Shuva drasha at Aish Kodesh (totally rainy night, thunderstorms, and over 1000 people showed up). The following is based on my own notes:

Why do we scream and get angry? When we miss the train or when your wife burns the kugel. Why do you yell at your kid? You yell at your kid for not cleaning his room. For something like not looking in the zemiros book? That is what kids do. Rav Kook says the source of your anger is with yourself, because you can’t control yourself. It’s not due to the people that are trying to be good to you and love you.

In my case, the emes is that I get upset because I feel that what I ask to be done should be done right away. It’s guyvahdik, plain and simple. Rav Kook’s words seem to imply that it’s all about a lack of self control. Either we feel that we need to be in control or we simple have no control over our anger.

If anyone has any ideas about dealing with habits, I’d love to hear them. Thanks for reading.

Learning Mishnayos: A request

I am not one to make requests too often. In fact, I usually feel rather uncomfortable asking people for favors or help. This request, though, really isn’t for myself. Five months ago my children lost their Bubbie and last week they lost their Zaide. It has been a difficult time for my wife’s family. We are asking, if anyone is able, for people to learn L’zecher Nishmas for:
Rivka Bas Chaim Yosef and also for Dan Ben Aharon. Both of them were not only survivors of the Holocaust, but were zoche to see six wonderful grandchildren come into this world. They both were involved in helping a major force in Torah Judaism get its start in Long Island, and above all else, schepped nachas from all that their children and grandchildren did.

Again, if you can, please click on either of the links below to sign up to learn. Of course, you are not require to give out our real name.
Thank you.