Category Archives: Weinberger

Elul: Over-thinking vs. simplifying things

Found here

There are those posts that are fun to write and flow out of my mind to my keyboard like cold grape flavored Crystal Light going down my throat on a hot summer day.  There are also those posts that seem like the four teaspoons of cough medicine that tastes awful, but you know that you really have to just take it so that you’ll feel better.  This is one of those.

I recently spent a number of days with my family on a mini-vacation (nothing too exotic, since we only drove three hours from Chicago) and my wife pointed out that I tend to complicate decisions by over-thinking things, instead of striving to make things simple.  As usual, she’s right.  Instead of deciding what to have for lunch, for example, I found myself chesboning what I would be eating later, what snacks I might want, etc. based on if my lunch was to be fleishig, milchig, or parve.

It’s sort of the trap that Rav Moshe Weinberger often refers to as “eating from the eitz ha’daas tov v’ra” (I most recently heard this referenced on his Bilvavi I, shiur #9 mp3, but he has also mentioned it in his Oros HaTeshuva shiurim, as well as on Shavuos night a number of years ago).  The idea behind this is phrase is that we often over-intellectualize issues, actions, and decisions.  For example, let’s say that you see a friend and what to say, “Hi.  How’s it going?”  If you start hemming about if you really should say “Hi” to your friend, what if he’s in a bad mood, or  if you really even care how he’s doing, then you are eating from the eitz ha’daas tov v’ra.  You are making a simple thing way to complicated.

As I think about a writing project I took upon myself a number of months ago, I see that I haven’t gotten as far as I wanted, because I was very concerned about “crafting” my writing style to the point that it has prevented me from the real act of working on the body of the project.  I’m not saying that it’s not important to contemplate things and think out things, but I am beginning to see that at times my own over-thinking gets in the way of both progression and potenial.

So here I am, hoping not to really give this topic too much thought and, simply (pun intended), change my ways.  Since it’s Rosh Chodesh Elul, I’m figure that I’ve got this month to try to catch myself over-thinking and tell myself, “Stop and get simple”.  I guess this is easier written than done.  However, Elul itself, is full of simplicity.  We have guidelines on how to do teshuva, we listen every morning to the simple sound of the shofar, and with school starting for my kids, I’m reminded that a new year and a fresh start are upon me.

As an aside, I found a great shiur from Rav Tzvi Aryeh Rosenfeld zt’l, a pioneer in Breslov chassidus in America and E”Y (and also a talmid of  Rav Avraham Yaffen, the son-in-law of the Alter of Novardok and Rosh Yeshiva Beis Yosef Yeshivah in Brooklyn) online about Simplicity that I have found quite helpful.

Rav Weinberger’s commentary on Oros(t) HaTeshuva now in book form

Black hat tip to R Reuven Boshnack.

Perfect for Elul and Tishrei!  I have been a teleconferencing Rav Weinberger’s Oros Ha’Teshuva shiurim forever, it seems.  They were my Friday morning companion for the eight years I lived in Indianapolis and after that, too.  Thanks to Reb Yaakov Dovid Shulman, the commentary of Rav Weinberger has now become available in book form.  Oros Ha’Teshuva is not (for me) easy to learn just on it’s on.  Like most of what Rav Weinberger teaches, his ability to clarify ideas and bring them home to our level is a gift.  My copy is ordered already.

From the publisher’s website:

Includes the original Hebrew text of Oros HaTeshuvah, a new translation into English by Yaacov Dovid Shulman, and commentary from Rabbi moshe Weinberger.

“Teshuvah – repentance – does not come to embitter life but to sweeten it.”

HaRav Avraham Yitzchak HaKohen Kook wrote these inspiring words in Oros HaTeshuvah, a work in which he delivers the message that teshuvah is not a somber process of self-deprivation but a joyful journey back to Hashem and to the core of who we are.

When Oros HaTeshuvah was published in 1925, it was immediately accepted as a classic of Jewish thought and hailed for its brilliance of ideas, warmth of feeling, depth of psychological insight, holiness of spirit and mastery of Torah knowledge.

However, because of the difficulty of its language and the profusion of its exalted concepts, Oros HaTeshuvah has remained for many a sealed book.

Now Rav Moshe Weinberger, Mara D’Asra of Congregation Aish Kodesh in Woodmere, New York, has composed a commentary that reveals the treasures embedded within Oros HaTeshuvah. Based on an extensive knowledge of Jewish philosophical and inspirational literature, Rav Weinberger’s commentary is profound, moving and fresh, richly explicating Oros HaTeshuvah’s ideas in a clear and accessible but not superficial manner. His masterful expositions on a variety of topics (such as the difference between depression and a broken heart) are both lucid and invigorating.

This book will fulfill the hopes of those who are looking for a holy text written in a contemporary style that will inspire them to renew their spiritual passions, strengthen their religious commitments and energize their personal growth.

Place your order here or contact your local seforim store.

In Rav Moshe Weinberger’s Perkei Avos shiurim that I listened to this past Sunday, while biking, he mentioned a few ideas that I’d like to expand upon, L’zecher Nishmas the 4th yahrzeit of Rivka bas Chaim Yosef a”h, my mother-in-law.

Rav Weinberger asks (in the 2st shiur)  a question based on the Marahal’s Derech Chaim,  “Why does the first mishna start of stating that Moshe received the Torah from Har Sinai, instead of stating that the Torah was received from Hashem?”
Har Sinai was more than just a place, it was a way of life.  The location was chosen by Hashem, just like we, B’nai Yisrael were chosen by Hashem.  Har Sinai was a constant, a visible force.  It was also chosen because of its’ size and the middah of humility, as many of our children have learned in pre-school.  To be someone that receives Hashem’s Torah, means that you are willing to receive from anyone who can teach you.  It’s is we, like Moshe, who have to be willing to learn what anyone is willing to teach us, no matter if they are a Gadol or a Katon.

Peirkei Avos, Rav Weinberger says, is called “Avos” because the Torah within these Mishnayos are based on a mesorah that goes back and is rooted in the yashrus, the ehrlichkeit, middos, and derech eretz of our Avos and Imos.  Avraham, Yitzchak, Yaaov, Sara, Rivka, Rochel, and Leah, like Har Sinai, taught us how to be m’kabal not just the Torah but a Torah lifestyle of middos tovos. Perkei Avos isn’t just the textbook for a course on how to “act frum” it’s teaches you how to live a frum life.  The Avos and Imos, but the Avos gave over the passion of the one writing the textbook.  My wife’s mother was a prime example of this.  She knew what it meant to be frum, to love Hashem, to have a relationship with Hashem.  She gave that over to those she knew, especially to Joanie.

Later in the 3rd shiur, Rav Weinberger gives an insight into the first thing said by the Anshei Knesses Gedolah, “Be deliberate in judgment.”  This teaching is so important when viewed within context of what was happening to the generation at the that time.  It was the end of the era of Nevu’ah, prophecy, and B’nai Yisrael felt that Hashem was abandoning them.  The Mabit (Rav Moshe be Yosef of Tirani) says that being “deliberate in judgment” doesn’t refer to how we view other people, but how we view the events that happen to us in life.

Din is always related to examining every detail of a situation, looking at things from all sides.  He says that we should always realize, even if the darkest times when we no longer have Naviim, that Hashem is always with us.  This is what the Anshei Knesses Gedolah was teaching their generation.

When we are able to “be deliberate in judgment” and see how each detail in our life is connected to another detail, then the  outcome can only be that Hashem is with us.  This was a middah that Rivka bas Chaim Yosef had perfected.  My mother-in-law never looked at tragedy, loss, or any difficulty as a punishment  from Hashem.  She always knew that Hashem was constantly with her, watching, guiding, and protecting.  We should all be zoche to take this middah from Bubbie and giving it over to our own children.

5 hours, 52.5 miles, and $2,448

Photo taken by me at 6:30AM on 5/29/11
Sunday at 5:40AM I biked Lake Shore Drive as part of Chai Lifeline’s Chai Cyclists. It was misty and foggy for most of the ride, not exactly picture perfect weather like previous years, but still amazing.  I had hoped to bike 45 miles in just over 4 hours, but in the end I spent 5 hours biking 52.5 miles, the last hour in the rain. 

At first the fog wasn’t a big deal to me, even though it seems that less people we on the Drive this year. When it started misting, I found myself stopping and cleaning my glasses. It seemed like my first 45 miles went fairly smoothly. While I was thrilled to be biking when it was overcast and 60 degrees, the fog was intense and landmark sites like Buckingham Fountain, the Field Museum, and Soldier Field seemed to disappear as I biked past them.

Things were going well until the rain came at 9:30, when they start clearing the bikers off of Lake Shore drive (think of it as the Belt, or the Van Wyke).  We were all directed to take the “bike path” along the actual lake. On any other day this would have been quite the scenic route, but then it the light mist turned to rain for those last 60 minute and time moved slowly.  
It wasn’t all that bad.  Prior to the rain, I was able to listen to the first three of Rav Moshe Weinberger’s Pirkei Avos shiurim, which were great.  The music that played after those kept me moving even as rain seemed to find me, despite my wishes.
It was a victory for me and for the children and families that are continuously helped by the efforts of Chai Lifeline. I was greeted with cheers from the staff and my brother, who came in from Brooklyn, for my accomplishment.

After the event I went back home with my brother and a close friend/fellow Chai Lifeline cyclist (since he drove us downtown) to be greeted by wife, kids and my friend’s family for a gala breakfast that Mrs. Uberdox made for us.

For those that sponsored me, thanks!!!  A blog post or a thank you letter doesn’t really do justice to how you have directly helped Chai Lifeline by sponsoring me for this event.  My total raised: $2,448.

Last post before Bike The Drive

Biked for an hour last night and I’m ready for the big ride.
My brother plans on driving in from Brooklyn to be at the ride and cheer me on, which is awesome.  So far, I’ve raised over $2100 for Chai Lifeline and I’m so thankful that such a wide range of people sponsored me.  From long time friends, to bloggers I’ve become friends with, to relatives, to a non-Jew from high school, and even my shul…it’s a wild group.

My wife and kids have been encouraging me and I’m begining to feel somewhat “more active”.  The sadness of not being able to share this success with my in-laws a”h and my father a”h is somewhat offset by knowing that the money raised is,mamash, going towards children and their families that needed it.

I’m pretty excited to get back on Lake Shore Drive again and hoping for excellent weather.
Training weekly for this has been tough, but worth it.  It’s also given me a fixed time to prepare and think about my “Bilvavi Mishkan Evneh” chabura that I started a few months ago.  Indeed, time well spent.

My first three hours biking will be used for listening to shiurim in zechus of a Refuah Shelayima for Revuen ben Tova ChayaZev Meir ben Yael Sarra, Rivkah Zelda bat Sarah and Miriam bas chana Yael; also as a merit for 2 couples who want children. In addition, it will be l’zecher nishmas:
Rivkah bas Chaim Yosef
Dan HaLevi bas Aharon
Avraham ben Zorach
Efraim ben Shlomo
Rebbetzin Zlata Geisinksky
Chaya bas Tuvyeh Leib
Eliezer Baruch Chaim

This year’s playlist is:

Pirkei Avos (1)- Why Begin with Olam Habah? Rav Moshe Weinberger
Pirkey Avos (2) – The Kiss Of Har Sinai – Rav Moshe Weinberger
Pirkei Avos (3) Humility – The Only Prerequisite Rav Moshe Weinberger
Pirkei Avos (4) Patience With Others, With Hahsem And With Ourselves Rav Moshe Weinberger
Hashem Melech- Yosef Karduner
Hallelu- Rockiah
Ki Lo Yitosh- Rockiah
Va-Yivan Uziyah- Piamenta
L’Shana Habaah- Piamenta
Anachnu Maaminim Medley- Piamenta
Dreams of my Redemption- Piamenta
Hafachta- The Diaspora Yeshiva Band
Cracow Nigun- Reb Shlomo Carlebach
V’li Yeruholayim- Yitzhak Halevi Band
Pischu Li- Yitzhak Halevi Band
In the Merit Of…- Pitom
Flash Gordon Theme- Queen
All Those People Know- Bob Mould
Chartered Trips- Husker Du
Sorrow- Bad Religion

Thanks to all of you who have be so kind to sponsor me.

If you haven’t sponsored me, there’s till time:

Rav Moshe Weinberger on davening and a relationship with Hashem

“If you don’t know about God, if you don’t care about God, if you don’t feel anything for God, so then the most uncomfortable place in the world to be is shul [synagogue].  Unless the guy next to you is interesting.  And that’s why you’ll find people who are normally very shy and reserved outside of shul and all of the sudden in shul it’s like Johnny Carson or Jay Leno.  He’s got so much to say and so much to talk about.  There’s an old song that I remember from one of my earlier gilgulim, “If you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you’re with”.  You know that song?  Really the Rabbono Shel Olam is the one that we love.  People don’t know. They are not hearing about the Rabbono Shel Olam, they are not hearing what our bubbies and zaidies took for granted: a personal relationship that they. had and an ongoing dialogue with the Creator of the world.”

(I found this transcribed quote in a “posting ideas” folder. Sadly, I forget which shiur it was from.)
Sent via Blackberry by AT&T

Rav Moshe Weinberger on Igeres HaMussar

After seeing Dixie Yid’s post about “Imagination Verses Intellect-Not What You Think“, I purchased the mp3 of this shiur.  As you may guess, it was excellent (in fact, there hasn’t been a shiur from Rav Weinberger that I haven’t heard, live or as an mp3, that hasn’t “hit me”).
Just to expand what Dixie Yid so beauifully posted, I transcribed a little more.  Any mistakes are mine.
Rav Weinberger says:
There is one of the most unbelievable opening sentences to anything that was ever written.  Rebbe Yisrael Salanter, the first sentence in the Igeres Hamussar.  “Ha’adam asur b’muskalo“, listen carefully, it’s a sentence for life.  But not like they have in jail.  A sentence for life to live with, to be free.  “Ha’adam asur b’muskalo, v’chofshi b’dimyono.”  In English, man is imprisoned by his mind, assur meaning imprisoned ,by what he knows, by his knowledge, by his neshama.  V’chofshi b’dimyono, but his dimyon, imagination, his delusions of his guf, free him and give him the impression that he can make any choice that he likes. 

My thanks to Dixie Yid for posting the orginal text of the shiur.  Igeret HaMussar is available in English here.  The mp3 can be purchased here.

Sunday’s Salanter Selection

Photo from here

Dixie Yid posted the following based on Friday’s shiur from Rav Moshe Weinberger, rav of Cong. Aish Kodesh in Woodmere, NY.

Imagination Versus Intellect – Not What You Think

From Rav Weinberger’s Shabbos shiur this morning:

Rav Yisroel Salanter in Igeres Hamussar: “ha’adam asur b’muskalo, v’chofshi b’dimyono.” “Man is imprisoned by his intellect and free in his imagination.”

Rav Weinberger’s explanation: A person’s intellect and soul, to whom G-d’s reality is blazingly obvious, one is bound (“asur”) to do what is right and avoid what is wrong. To the intellect/soul, one can no more look at an inappropriate image than he could stick his hand in a fire or cut himself with a knife.

But the force of the imagination/fantasy/body makes a person feel “chofshi b’artzeinu,” free to do right or do wrong. But that feeling is pure dimyon, fantasy.

“Asur b’muskalo” is why a person says he “can’t” eat on Yom Kippur, and “chofshi b’dimyono” is why he feels it’s not so pashut that you can’t conceal income on his tax return.

IY”H may we all be zoche to attain the feeling of “I can’t” when it comes to doing anything against Hashem’s will!

Even with R Zvi Miller’s excellent translation (with some commentary) on Igeres HaMussar by Rabbi Yisrael Salanter, I have always had trouble since 1991 really understanding those opening words of Igeres HaMussar, until now.
Yashar Koach to Dixie Yid for not only attending the shiur, but posting this teaching!!!
The shiur is available for purchase here.

Video from AJOP Convention- a must see!!!

AJOP released video highlights from their convention last week.  There’s a video that I saw tonight featuring  Reb Yosef Davis, Rabbi Michel Twerski, Rabbi Zecharia Wallerstein, and Rabbi Moshe Weinberger.  The discussion is titled “Addressing the Real Life Needs of the Newly Observant as They Transition into the Orthodox Community“.  It is a must see and is being hosted at Torah Anytime.
A majority of the session from the convention are currently available for viewing/streaming here.