Monthly Archives: May 2013

6 Reasons why I loved being on LSD early Sunday morning

  1. Starting a bike ride on Lake Shore Drive at 5:30 gives me the ability time to watch the sun continue to rise as I enjoyed cool, but great weather.
  2. Being able to use my bike and exercise while raising money for Chai Lifeline is an incredible way to be involved in the mitzvah of tzedakah.
  3. I was able to listen to 4 shiurim and still get through my song playlist.
  4.  Had I not biked 52.5 miles, then I wouldn’t have been able to be surprised by my wife and kids after the ride was over.
  5. Taking upon any challenge with a health mindset allows you to realized that it is only when you are pushed, or push yourself, that you can really grow.
  6. By Biking the Drive for Chai Lifeline, I have already raised almost $2,100 of my goal amount of $2800. I still have, at least, one matching donation from someone’s company and I know that after reading this, you might also open your heart and still sponsor me within the next 48 hours.

I thank all of you that sponsored me. If you haven’t sponsored me YET, you can still do it. I’m told the website will still accept sponsors, just click here.

As I go to sleep before I Bike The Drive for Chai Lifeline

I know, you’ve seen the video, read the playlist, and some of you even made me tear up when I saw that you sponsored me. Thanks! Just to update you, the shiurim I will be listening to while biking the drive for, at least, the first 3 hours are:
Rav Reuven Leuchter: Emunah 2 (and maybe 3)
Rav Revuen Leuchter: Growth Dynamics in Torah
Rav Moshe Weinberger: Hachsharas Avreichim 11 (and maybe 12)

If you read my blog, you know I have raised money for Chai Lifeline for the past 5 years by Biking Lake Shore Drive. Thanks to my sponsors I have raised around $9000 in 5 years, which blows me away. I’m less than $1200 from my current goal and I still need your help. Please repost this, share it, or send a link to a friend and help get the word out. To sponsor you can go here:

Thank and stay tuned for a post-ride post later. I am going to sleep.

There’s still time to attach yourself to a mitzvah


Thanks for reading this post. I am humbled that many of you have already sponsored me and that I am very close to reaching my goal. This is the last post before I bike Lake Shore Drive. By the time many of you read this, I’ll be either asleep or biking, since I am getting downtown at 5:00 am, with the ride starting at 5:30 am. Don’t worry, you can still sponsor me!

Chai Lifeline, a wonderful organization dedicated to helping very sick children and their families. Chai Lifeline provides year-round emotional, social, and financial support to more than 4,000 children and their families every year. In our area, Chai Lifeline Midwest offers access to two-dozen free programs and services that touch each member of the family, helping them to live full and happy lives despite the presence of illness.
As a Chai Cyclist, over the past 5 years I have raised almost $9000.00 for them, which blows me away. I’m aiming to raise $2800.00 this year and I am only about $1100.00 away from reaching my goal. All donations are 100% tax deductible, and if your company has a matching gift program, your gift may be doubled or tripled. Any amount that you give would be amazing, no matter how small (or how big). I always end up pushing myself on this ride and I’m aiming to ride, at least, 45 miles, all in the name of helping children and in loving memory of my father, of blessed memory, and my in-laws, of blessed memory.
Thank you for supporting me, and in doing so, helping children and their families cope with the diagnosis, treatment and aftermath of serious pediatric illness. To sponsor me, please click here. If you want, it would be great if you could share this message with your friends.

With much thanks,

Rav Reuven Leuchter in Chicago this Shabbos


Breaking new:

Rabbi Reuven Leuchter, one of the leading mussar personalities in Eretz Yisroel, will be delivering a drasha Shabbos morning at Mikor Hachaim and will be the guest speaker at Shalosh Seudos this Shabbos @ STMY(in conjunction with JET). He is the primary student of Rav Shlomo Wolbe z’tl  .

A serious question for my readers

Hi, how are you? I am sort of torn between, what I view as, two opportunities. Here is the situation as I see it. 

I started this blog over seven years ago and it has been a great platform for me to actually write, hammer out concepts that are key to my hashkafa, and share a little bit of the Torah that I come across. These are all really great things and I am humbled and grateful to all who visit this blog daily. The lack of comments use to get my goat, but I have realized that if on one is commenting that means that readers agree with what I am writing. 
However, I am now seven years older and my own blogging needs have slightly changed. I am considering moving over to WordPress. That isn’t the problem, though. I already have a blog (nothing posted) on WordPress and even have a name for the blog, and it is sadly not as cool as Al Ha Derech or even Modern Uberdox.
I am trying to slowly write more “general audience” posts and need to decide if I should just move all of Modern Uberdox over to WordPress and still continue to post, yet have a sprinkling of more general posts about the challenges of growth or…
…just keep this blog here and have a totally different blog all together. 
While I write for most selfish reasons  I also know that this blogs reader have been with me from the beginning (even with that terrible post about New Square Orange Juice vs Lakewood Orange Juice  [Spring of 2006]). So I am asking a favor. If you are the person in California, the reader in Patchouge (Long Island), or the lurker in Jersey City please feel free to leave a comment and let me know what you would prefer. I was going to post a poll, but I would rather that you leave a comment, because your opinion matters and I value your perspective. 

Update on my prep for Bike The Drive

I biked in the evening last night for an hour and will be hitting the pavement again today, in preparation for Bike the Drive for Chai Lifeline on Sunday. So for I have raised $735, which is great. There’s still time to sponsor me, if you can. Any amount you can give to Chai Lifeline would be so wonderful.

I think I finalized my playlist for Bike The Drive. As of now, I’ll be listening to 2 shiurim from Rav Revuen Leuchter and probably two shiurim from Rav Moshe Weinberger.

The playlist will is:
Hafachta- The Diaspora Yeshiva Band
Tzadik- The Diaspora Yeshiva Band
Yerushalayim- Even Sh’siyah
Ashreinu- Even Sh’siyah
Malachim- Moshav Band
Hashem S’fatai- Moshav Band
Carlebach Medley-Piamenta
Anachnu Maaminim Medley- Piamenta
Mitzvah- Yossi Piamenta
Va-Yivan Uziyah- Yossi Piamenta
Nigun Nevo- Shlomo Katz
eliyahu hanavi- Shlomo Katz
Hashem Melech- Yosef Karduner
Lo Yaavod -Yaakov Shwekey
Wavin’ Flags at Camp Simcha-Kids Battling Cancer
Opinion- Greg Gaffin
Cease Bad Religion
I Hate Alternative Rock- Bob Mould
All Those People Know- Bob Mould
Celebrated Summer- Hüsker Dü
Chartered Trips- Hüsker Dü
Rescue- Echo & The Bunnymen
Just Like Heaven- Goldfinger
Choose Any Memory- fIREHOSE
Imitation Of Life- R.E.M.
This Is a Call Foo Fighters
Bamboleo- Gipsy Kings
Another State Of Mind- Social Distortion
Don’t Change -INXS
You can still sponsor me by going here until May 26th. Thanks!!

If this blog is something you like to read, then please help me

Click here for info

Hi! I rarely ask things except for one time a year and this is it. I am raising money for Chai Lifeline and biking Lake Shore Drive (sort of like the West Side Highway to those in NYC) next Sunday, May 26th.
The idea, if you don’t recall from the previous 5 times I have been involved in this event, is to raise as much money as possible for Chai Lifeline, an amazing organization that helps children and their families cope with serious pediatric illnesses.

If anything I have ever written since 2006 has been meaningful or resonated with you, than I am asking for your help.

I will be completely frank with you, I need your help. Not because I have previously raise THE MOST money from sponsors, but because I feel this is something I want to put my energy into. There is no minimum sponsor amount. If you $3.00 or even $500.00 you can use to sponsor me, it would be awesome. It’s all tax deductible, too.

You might think that you really can’t spare anything and I do understand that. I am currently not working (as in looking for employment) and I know first hand how difficult it is to even put gas in your car sometimes. I also know that this morning I gave tzedaka at shul, because when you give, you get back.
If you’d like to read more about why I am biking, in memory of my father a”h, then, I ask you to go to this site,


Sweet deal on the "must have" parenting sefer

The English translation of Zeriah u’Binyan beChinnuch, Planting and Building by Rav Shlomo Wolbe z’tl (translated by Rabbi Leib Keleman) is currently on sale for $11.69 if you use this online coupon code: FLD10.

From the Feldheim website:

An English translation of the acclaimed Hebrew best-seller, Zeriah u’Binyan beChinnuch. The author, an acknowledged Torah authority, is one of the foremost spiritual leaders of our time. This book has been prepared from several of his lectures, and presents basic guidelines for parenting and education. The wisdom in this important book fills a great need for our generation and Rabbi Wolbe’s vital teachings should be read and re-read by every Jewish parent and educator.

Now, here’s the nitty gritty about this sefer, if you have kids or are in a formalized chinuch position, then it’s in your best interest to read this sefer. If you live in Chicago, email me and I’ll let you borrow my copy. Last February in Chicago I heard both Rabbi Yakov Horowitz and Rabbi Paysach Krohn quote and base discussions around this sefer at two totally separate events. Rabbi Wolbe z’tl completely “got it” about how to use sechel in the way we educate our children. I often catch myself using techniques and teachings from this sefer. I also catch myself not following some of the ideas in the sefer and pay for it. I don’t get any kickbacks from Feldheim (but wish I did), I just happen to feel very passionately about Planting and Building and it is truly 88 pages of knowledge. Don’t forget to use the code “FLD10” to save 10% when you order it.

6 Things we can learn from the Kabbalah Centre

From the Kabbalah Centre website

Last month I found myself in a northern suburb of Chicago for a meeting. I arrived early and tried to locate a used book store I had read about on Yelp. It seems that the bookstore had closed, but I did see a branch of the Kaballah Centre. I knew they had a location in Chicago, but I had no clue they had a branch in Highland Park, IL. If you know me, then you know that I will often say that I’m not hardwired for Kabballah. I have tried reading  Inner Space by Rav Aryeh Kaplan zt’l, like, a dozen times and couldn’t get past page 30. I even tried reading it when I turned 40 and I still felt like my head was spinning. I could barely understand the essay at the beginning of  Horev titled “Samson Rafael Hirsch and the Kabbalah”.

However, the former kiruv professional in me was curious about a few things:
How long have they been in Highland Park?
How many Jewish people come and how many non-Jewish people come in?
What kind of programming they offer?
How many people that come in end up coming back again?
I walked in and was approached by a really nice lady who took time to get to know me. I got some answers to my questions and a quick tour. After speaking with her, I signed up for their email list. In the 15 minutes that I was there I saw 6 other people park their cars and come inside and were treated in the same friendly manner.
I looked around their massive location with multiple rooms and realized their approach was a mix of the following models: Barnes & Noble, the Apple store, and a little Starbucks.
I also realized that there are a few things that mekarvim could learn from this Kabbalah Centre (it’s the only one I have ever gone into).
  1. Brick and Mortar signifies that you are here to stay- In my opinion, the kiruv organizations and kollelim that have a real phyical address tend give an impression that “we are here to stay”. If you organization has always been run out of someone’s basement or using a desk and a phone in someone else’s office, the organization appear to be temporary.
  2. Let people get something free just for coming in- The Centre had a table right inside their entrance with bottles of water just sitting their waiting to be taken. Next to the bottles were multiple copies of a new book that they had just published. People like free things and getting some water to drink when you look around a shul, school, kollel, or outreach center automatically says, “Hey, we are really happy you came by today.”
  3. Brand, brand, and brand- Everything in the store that was for sale from DVDs, to books, to mezuzzah housings, to red strings and magnets was produced by the Kaballah Center. Chabad, I believe, is the only group out there that could even pull this off, since they have their only publishing house. The take-home-idea is that if people walk into your kiruv center they should get the impression that you are not only supplying books and one-on-one learning program. Today’s adults, even the empty nesters that have email and Facebook want to feel like they is more than just one items being offered in their search for authentic Judaism, people want to feel like they have choices. That why programs that offer a Hebrew School and congruent programming for the parents are so important.
  4. Be friendly and get a commitment from someone before they walk out the door- I was approached after I had been in the store of 40 seconds. The person was friendly, asking me if I lived in the area, have I ever studied Kabbalah, and passively insisted that she get my email address. She even said that I could unsubscribe at any time. Anyone who is anyone in Kiruv will tell you that you have to engage with each person and connect with them and you do your best to get contact info, unless it’s Shabbos and you know you aren’t going to remember anything. However, I have never heard anyone say that you can chose to unsubscribe to an email list, that’s the chiddush.
  5. Leather chairs and a quiet room are golden- This Kabbalah center had awesome leather chairs and a small sofa in a room on the side, with a DVD playing one of their video classes. There was a small bookshelf with a few books and a copy of the Zohar. I sat there for a few minutes and no one from their staff came into speak with me. They did walk by, but the idea was that this room is a “safe place” where people could just lounge around and chill.
  6. Inform don’t sell- During my conversation with one of the people who runs the Centre, I was informed about their study session on Lag B’Omer, the classes and workshops available and their other Centre in Chicago that was closer to where I live. I was also told about a number of free apps they have for both Android and iPhones and if I went to their website I could even order books that are free (shipping not included). There was no pressure to by anything, I just got information and signed up for emails.

All in all, I left there, still not hardwired for Kabballah. I was, however, thinking that if non-Orthodox Jews are coming here seeking a way to connect to Judaism, then why can’t we, as Torah observant Jews offer them something besides Kaballah.

If you could come up with one idea or concept to help bring others towards Yiddishkeit, what would it be?