Category Archives: parsha

Some Postings Need No Title

I write not because I have the strength to write, but because I do not have the strength to remain silent.”
-Rav Avraham Yitzchok Kook zt’l

I came across the quote last night. I had copied it from somewhere and scribbled it in a journal way back in 1994. I wasn’t planning on posting, but I decided that consistency is a good thing, even if it means writing when I don’t feel like it.
It’s been a long week. Primarily due to the matzav in Eretz Yisrael. I’m worried, just like everyone else. Then, there’s the shadow of the Three Weeks hanging over Klal Yisrael. Finally it’s been a long week for for me blog-wise. I read over all of my postings and I feel that I probably take myself too seriously. That was not my intent. There is a more casual side to me.
Ever see the Beatles’ movie HELP? It’s great. The best part is the blurb on the back of the box about the flick. It states that the Beatles made the movie at a period of their life when they didn’t take themselves too seriously. While I enjoying posting about Rav Yisrael’s 13 Midos, it’s taken a toll on me. It’s like Elul in July.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the whole Ir Miklat-unintentional murder deal that we’ll hear in shul this Shabbos. Like most people, I try to relate the parshios to my life. As I’ve gotten older I think some of my core-personality has gotten misplaced. Maybe I’ve unintentionally “killed” my fun-loving-humorous-go-with-the-flow self, and I’ve been exiled to an Ir Miklat of my own design. I hope that’s not the case.
If I killed someone by accident, and retreated to an Ir Miklat, I’d never sleep. How could I when I know that my freedom would be dependant on the death of one person… the Kohen Gadol? Who would sleep?

When a man learns that just as he broods over himself so does G-d yearn for him, he is at the beginning of a higher level of consciousness” (Rabbi Steinsaltz). This quote appears at the end of an article written by Rav Moshe Weinberger. You can read the entire article here. It’s well worth it.

Good Shabbos

Am I Less Deviant Now That I’m Older?

My wife and I had the pleasure of spending an amazing Shabbos with a very close friend of mine (and his brother) from my shanna bet year in Eretz Yisroel and college days. Shabbos afternoon my friend asked me a pretty simple question:
Am I less deviant (read punk, individualistic, free-thinking, non-iconoclast, etc) than I use to be? Good question. Although, I would have expected nothing less from him.

I have often wondered the same question myself. From the time I was in high school and became frum until now, how much have I changed? In terms of how I look, its a radical change. It’s rather easy to externally blend into a frum lifestyle. I pretty much look like most people on any given weekday or Shabbos. Years ago, I stopped trying to show my individuality by what I wore on the outside. If you met me, you’d think I’m a pretty normal guy. That’s because I am.His question did get me thinking, though. Have I changed or mellowed out over the years? Probably a bit of both. The conversation with my friend reminded me of two great quotes. Both of them are from an interview with Sonic Youth in SPIN magazine that I read back in September of 1992.

“If you’re not growing, then you’re not living.”
“At times, the most conservative people or ideas are really quite radical.”

We are defined by our thoughts, speech, and actions. I’m told that the Baal HaTanya wrote about this quite a lot. We should not be stagnate. Just as we are inclined to attach ourselves to Hashem through Mitzvah observance, our natural inclination is to grow. I believe the above quotes are a more modern day versions of this:
There is no blade of grass below that does not have a malach on high that smites it and says to it: Grow! (Bereishis Rabbah 10:6-7)
Something as seemingly simple like grass has an urge to grow. Something so basic, knows that there is more to life if you reach upward.

I gave this entry a lot of thought over the past few days. I think that there us much more room for individuality when you set parameters for measurable behavior. If one “marches to their own beat” then you don’t have any way to judge just how different you are than anyone else.

As I was writing this, I thought about Parshas Korach. I must admit, I really wasn’t thinking, but remembering Rav Soloveitchik’s view of Korach, as found in REFLECTIONS OF THE RAV . The Rav states that “Korach was committed to the doctrine of religious subjectivism, which regards one’s personal feelings as primary in the religious experience. The value of the mitzvah is to be found not in its performance, but in its subjective impact upon the person.” This was how Korach thought. Rav Soloveitchik felt that “there are two levels in religious observance, the objective outer mitzvah and the subjective inner experience that accompanies it. Both the deed and the feeling constitute the total religious experience; the former without the latter is an incomplete act, an imperfect gesture. The objective act of performing the mitzvah is our starting point. The mitzvah does not depend on the emotion; rather, it induces the emotion. One’s religious inspiration and fervor are generated and guided by the mitzvah, not the reverse.”

A few months ago felt compelled to actually submit something to in reference to a list I had seen a while back. I received the following response to my submission:This message was created automatically by mail delivery software.
A message that you sent could not be delivered to one or more of its
recipients. This is a permanent error. The following address(es) failed:
mailbox is full: retry timeout exceeded

Not good news for the Jews. I was pretty bummed. So I sent the email again. Same response.
In an attempt to answer the question that became the title of this posting, I submit the following:

My additions to “Top 10 ways you know you are a JEWISH HIPSTER”:
Your Itunes Library includes: Shlomo Carlebach, Shalsheles, Husker Du, C Lanzbom, Chaim Dovid, The Yitzhak Halevi Band, Rabbis Akiva Tatz and Moshe Weinberger, Bad Religion, and the Yeshiva Boys Choir
You turn “I Wanna Be Sedated” into a niggun
You quote the Kuzari and Kerouac in the same breath

You cancel your Rolling Stone subscription and start getting the JEWISH PRESS
Your cell phone ringer is a version of “Ki Va Moed” with killer electric guitar
On Sunday afternoons you Skateboard to Mincha, because the shul parking lot is good for shreddin’
Your wife’s mini-van’s radio is preset to both news-radio and the local alternative station
Your Shabbos Hat Box is covered with band stickers

When you hear the term “hardcore” you think of Black Flag and Novorodock
Your kids share your love of all things Piamenta

If you’re reading this (and you know who you are, because you went by a different name when you were younger) thanks. It was great seeing you again.

Our Sense of Taste

Parasha Beha’aloscha contains a passage about the mannah, or mun. I would like to share something I read from Rav Shimon Schwab’s writings.
Before Rav Schwab left Europe he went spent Shabbos with the Chofetz Chaim for Shabbos. Shabbos night a group of students came over to the home of the Chofetz Chaim and he said:
We know the mun had the ability to take on whatever taste we wanted it to. What happened when the person eating the mun didn’t think about what he wanted it to taste like?
The Chofetz Chaim answered his own question: Then it simply has no taste.

This gets me every time. It’s one of my favorite d’vrei Torah. If I don’t think about my Avodas Hashem, then it has no taste. If I don’t appreciate the people my family, it’s like they don’t exist. How often does my learning or mitzvah performance seem like tasteless mon?

I struggle to approach each day as a new one.I never want to be too comfortable with my Yiddishkeit.

Torah Judaism require that we think about what we do. We owe it to our creator.
My tefillah is that I hope I keep on tasting.

"No One Cares About Orange Juice"

to quote my wife. She finally read my previous entry (Lakewood vs. New Square). She’s right, I guess. We’ve been married for over nine years and I actually have a list (not for the blogsphere) of almost all the times that I should have listened to her, because she’s usually right.

She told me that ranting really isn’t something fitting for me to do. So here’s a revised copy of my previous blog:

“…and Israel encamped there, opposite the mountain.” (Shemos/Exodus 19:2) Rashi says quite clearly that B’nai Yisroel were like one person with one heart. It was, in fact, the only time we all agreed on anything. This is what I usually think about on Shavuos.

We quickly forget that prior to reaching Har Sinai, we crossed the Yam Suf. Each shevet had their own route. Each shevet actually had their own nusach (so I’ve been told). We all are different. We dress differently, we have different minhagim, send our kids to different schools, and we have different outlooks. Yet, for the Kavod Hashem, to accept the Torah, we were one.