Monthly Archives: March 2007


The book that I’ve been working on for over a year has been banned by major Orthodox organizations before it has even officially gone to press. After seeking several approbations from respected individuals within the Torah observant community, I have been asked not to proceed with my publication. This will not stop me! Cross-Currents is currenly debating this whole issue and several other bloggers are showing major support for me.

The book, titled YOU DIDN’T HEAR THIS FROM ME, contains inspiring stories about Gadolim, Rabbonim, and present day talmidei chachamim. The unique thing about this book is that it tells the amazing stories of people whose written works have, at one time or another, been banned by the Orthodox community. It also tells the stories behind the banned publications.

That right, finally there is a book about banned books that’s already being banned before it comes out! Included are stores about such giants as the RAMBAM and the RAMCHAL. It also includes more recent stories about indviduals like Rabbi Naftali Zvi Yehuda Berlin (the Netziv), Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz, and Rabbi Noson Slifkin.

As a bonus the book also contains my award winning essay on The Catcher In The Rye, titled “Holden Caulfield- Phoniness, Angst, Rebellon, and other factors that lead to At-Risk-Teens and what we can do to bring them to Teshuva”.

Self-published copies of YOU DIDN’T HEAR THIS FROM ME are currently available for sale on eBay.

Freilichen Purim

New Product

Are you tired of actually feeling anything when performing mitzvos?
Are you tired of not looking ‘frum enough’ for your friends, neighbors, or family members?
Do you long to give off the impression of being machmir on everything except menschlikeit?
Don’t you spend too much time thinking about your connection to your creator?
Then maybe you’re ready to try…

That’s right, it’s Frumda brand sweetener. Created in the Modern Uberdox lab just in time for Purim. It’s made from the finest Frumkeit available and, of course, leave a terrible taste in mouths of those you meet. Just add it your next cup of coffee and you’ll be ready to put absolutely no effort into your Yiddishkeit!!!

Freilichen Purim!!

The Starbucks memo and Purim

Howard Schultz’s “Starbuck memo” finally made the news. It’s really more of a clarion call to get back to basics for the company. Here are several quotes I found interesting:

“Our stores no longer have the soul of the past and reflect a chain of stores vs. the warm feeling of a neighborhood store.”
“Some people even call our stores sterile, cookie cutter, no longer reflecting the passion our partners feel about our coffee. In fact, I am not sure people today even know we are roasting coffee.”

“We achieved fresh roasted bagged coffee, but at what cost? The loss of aroma – perhaps the most powerful non-verbal signal we had in our stores; the loss of our people scooping fresh coffee from the bins and grinding it fresh in front of the customer, and once again stripping the store of tradition and our heritage?”

“I take full responsibility myself, but we desperately need to look into the mirror and realize it’s time to get back to the core and make the changes necessary to evoke the heritage, the tradition and the passion that we all have for the true Starbucks experience,” he said.

“The merchandise, more art than science, is far removed from being the merchant that I believe we can be and certainly at a minimum should support the foundation of our coffee heritage. Some stores don’t have coffee grinders, French presses from Bodum, or even coffee filters.”
“I have said for 20 years that our success is not an entitlement and now it’s proving to be a reality. Let’s be smarter about how we are spending our time, money and resources. Let’s get back to the core. Push for innovation and do the things necessary to once again differentiate Starbucks from all others.”
At times I can see how my own Torah observance as become similar to the current ‘Starbucks experience’. I often wonder if I have become victim of ‘cookie-cutter chain-store’ Yiddishkeit?Has the ‘merchandise’ of my observance become more important that actual mitzvah observance? Has my personality been brushed aside to fit into a certain mold?
“Back to the core” is a phrase that Schultz uses twice. I his message to timely, as on Purim we also get “back to the core” as manifested in our reacceptance of the Torah.
We all come up with costumes for our kids and ourselves. Is more effort put into hiding who we are than revealing what is truly inside us?
As I look at the four mitzvos of Purim I realized they hint to some of the basics of Torah Judaism.
Hearing the reading of the Book of Esther: Not only listen, but understand what it says
Giving monetary gifts to the poor: Do a chessed for someone who needs it
Giving two prepared food gifts to at least one other person: Reach out for the sake of reaching out
Eating a festive Purim meal: Let your soul and body serve Hashem with joy.

I’ve always found in interesting that one can fullfill the mitzvah of shaloch manos with two different types of food that fall under the same bracha (like a can of Coke and some prepared salmon). From a bracha point a view the foods are the same, yet have very different characteristics. Each person is also, on the surface, similar, yet we each have different personalities.
As I experience Purim this year I’m looking forward to getting back to my core! Have a safe and Freilichen Purim and may we see our galus end today!
Howard Schultz’s memo can be read here.
Another good read is a recent posting by A Simple Jew titled Doing What We Do Best.

Added parsha bonus:
This weeks’ parsha deals with the bedgai kenuna and specifically the extra four accessories worn by the Kohen Gadol. Sefer HaChinuch (mitzvah 99) states that the Kohen Gadol would only wear his garments on Yom Kippur. It was then put away and the following year he wore a new one. I believe the reasoning behind this was so he would become desensitzed to the importance of wearing the clothing of the Kohen Gadol.

We all have some favorite piece of clothing. It could be a sweater, shirt, or a pair of shoes. Imagine how we’d feel if we could only wear it once a year?
Mitzvos are often referred as ‘clothing for the neshama’. I use this lesson from the Chinuch to try to have a feeling of newness to those mitzvos that I perform everyday. It’s not easy, and most of the time I fall short of my goal, but I attempt. Gut Shabbos Kodesh