Monthly Archives: August 2007

Living vicariously through our kids

I think most of us, at one time or another, think about living vicariously through our kids. I’ve been tempted to buy band t-shirts of my ‘old favorites’ for my kids. I also love bathing our almost one year old Uberbaby daughter and giving her a mohawk! I can’t help myself. Others might live vicariously through their children when it comes to birthday parties, bar/bas mitzvahs, wedding, popularity in school, excellence in acedemics or sports, etc.

I think that most of us parents out there want what’s best for our kids. For some that means letting our kids live a lifestyle that reflects the way that we grew up. For others this might mean giving kids what we didn’t have when we, ourselves, were growing up. This, of course, can manifest itself in either materialism, experiences, or aspects of Torah observant life.
As the school year starts I often see parents living vicariously through their own kids. My own son just got his first “rebbi” as a teacher. I’m thrilled, I freely admit it. I didn’t grow up with an opportunity like that. The urge to hear every single detail about my son’s day at school is tempting. I hold back though. I’m just happy that my son is happy at his school. I realize that my dreams are not my son’s dreams. His strengths are very different than may own (especially in sports). I know that I have a much better relationship with my own kids when I accept them for who they are, not who I want them to be (this is different than having expectations for one’s kids).

I think that the middos we demonstrate (by what we do and how we do it) also end up ‘living’ vicariously through our children. In a way, our kids absorb both the good and the not good within us. They watch, listen, and learn. I have seen time and again in my own kids how they pick up both the postive and negative characteristic that I display. Our kids should be the ones who want to live vicariously through us!
Rav Dessler in Michtav M’Eliyahu also deals with this idea in terms of the Avos (Avraham-Chessed, Yitzchak- Gevurah/Yirah, and Yaakov-Emes). Rav Dessler goes on to explain how each of the Avos actually utilized aspects of all three of these (Chessed, Gevurah, and Emes) built on the Avodah of the previous generation.
When I first worked on the rough draft for this post last week. I had, at the time, reached just over the “25,000” mark on my site meter (despite very irregular postings over the past several months). The quick glance, light read, or even thoughful comment left on Modern Uberdox is greatly appreciated. As I’ve posted before, the fact that anyone even reads this blog is humbling. Like parenting, teaching, and most things in life the bottom line is: We have no clue what effect we can have on others. Thanks for reading.

Posting Update…

While I can’t seem to find the time for a proper posting, I hope these links to give you something to think about:

Rambam’s Hilchos Teshuva (black hat tip from BeyondBT, like, almost a year ago).

Yakov David Shulman’s translation of Bnai Machshava Tova, by the Piazeczna Rebbe z”tl is worth the download. I found it to be more of an authentic translation than the previous attempt. I’ve read both and have also learned (via teleconference) with R Weinberger’s shiurim, now available like this.

To those that come by every day to see something new, thanks for taking time to look.

Public Service Announcement

(This is not directed to the woman I just saw talking on her cell phone, while jay-walking across a major street in my neightboorhood at 5PM erev Shabbos, dragging her two daughters along with her, still talking on her cell phone, who didn’t notice her son who was still hadn’t crossed the street, screaming “Ima! Ima!”. Nor is it directed at the same woman who didn’t notice her that her son was not with her, nor hear him screaming for her. As, I pulled the boy out of the middle of the street with on coming traffic, I said, “Tzaddik, come. I’ll walk you across the street”. Nor is this directed towards the woman I approached, with her son in my hand, whom I said several times to, “Excuse me, excuse me”, then when I got her attention and returned her precious child to, offered no thank you to me, due to the fact that she was still on her cell phone.)

I’m sad and I’m mad. We have a problem. It’s not just bans on music, making sure our kids are safe in the Mountains, dealing with drugs, at-risk kids, TV/internet issues. It’s (and I am guilty of this at times) simply not putting our kids first.

I’m sure that people, for example, might have to take an important phone call at times, but I don’t think it’s right to do it at the expense of your children’s safety. What message are we giving our kids? What priority do I give to my own kids?

Kids see everything.

Taking a moment…

While there is always room for improvement, I must say that I recently took a moment to appreciate several good things in life. This started Sunday afternoon when I was driving home from a Bar Mitzvah. I was thinking about how fortunate I was to have heard Ruby Harris sing and play guitar.

Then, the car in front of me had a flat tire. Seeing it made me feel thankful that, while my car occasionally doesn’t start (if it was a Transformer, my car would be called Jumpstart), it was, all in all (with the exception of something getting caught in the engine last summer) a good purchase.

I then thought about what a nice Shabbos I had. Recently my Uberwife and I decided to try to make individualized time for our kids. One when out to get school supplies with Mrs. Uberdox and another recently got a day at the ‘beauty parlor’ (really just a haircut for our 5 yr old Uberdaughter).

So this past Shabbos night I at 9:30 PM I found myself with my son. Everyone else had gone to bed. We read stories, shmoozed about things, and had a great time. I hope that by spending more “Abba and Me” time with my kids, beautiful memories will pop into my head the next time someone runs in the house, shouts, doesn’t throw something away, wakes up little Uberbaby, or wakes their parents up. I can only hope that as I get closer to the Yom HaDin, Hashem recalls the ‘good times’.

As I got closer to home I thought about our almost 11 month old. She always has a smile and does totally radical things (yeah, I use the word ‘radical’) like puts one hand up in the air and says, “Ta Da” when she does something she’s proud of. She also just figured out how to ‘fake-snore’ and totally cracks herself up when she does it.

Then, just the other day, Mrs. Uberdox found for me, what might be, the ultimate Shabbos/Yom Tov shirt (total chessed on her part).

As I think about people I know who are sick/have sick relatives, are missing parnassah, need shiduchim, and just seem to have everything go wrong, I realize that it is, truly, important to realize what I should be thankful for.

Parshas Shoftim

And it will be, when he sits upon his royal throne, that he shall write for himself two copies of this Torah on a scroll from [that Torah which is] before the Levitic kohanim. (Devarim 17:18)

Rashi on the pasuk:And it will be, when he sits [upon his royal throne]. If he does this, he merits that his kingdom will remain established. — [Sifrei] two copies of this Torah-. Heb. מִשְׁנֵה הַתּוֹרָה i.e., two Torah scrolls, one that is placed in his treasury, and the other that comes and goes with him (San. 21b).
(Thanks to

I’ve always (well, since I first learned the Rashi) found this Rashi to be great instruction for me (even when I find myself occasionally slipping into Deceptijew mode).

The idea that the same Torah a King keeps in his treasury is identical to the one he keeps with him at all other times is a powerful idea.

Both our public and private life as a Torah observant Jew needs to mesh.

Rav Hutner was once asked about the idea of a Jew living in two worlds (secular and religious). His answer was that if a person has an apartment in one area of town and another apartment in another area of town, that is living two lives.

If, however, you have have a home with two different room that you spend equal time in, you are still in the same world.

I’d say that if you are hanging out in your front or back yard, that would count also.

I admit, I was going to save this Rav Hutner idea for a post dealing with “Bloggers as Superheroes” which was going to discuss my views on Anonymous Bloggers vs those who blog under their names (sort of a “who is a greater hero…Spiderman vs. the Fantastic Four). As I sit here I realize that the truth is that any blogger I’ve communicated with via comments or email that uses a ‘secret identity’ has always been a mentsch. On blog or off blog, at home or at work, in shul or in line to buy diapers, greenbeans, and kishka the ideal is to hold ourselves to the same Torah wherever we are.
Good Shabbos Kodesh!


I don’t really care for either, yet as I think about myself on Rosh Chodesh Elul, I can see times in the past year when I have acted both like an Observabot and a Deceptijew.

The Observabots tend to do things by rote. While mitzvah observance is a major aspect of their life, it usually is laking in Simcha shel Mitzvah.

The Deceptijews are really not much better. While on the surface they seem fairly observant, it’s really just chitzionius or an external show of Yiddishkeit.

It’s hard to pick the lesser of the two evils. Take your average Observabot. He/She might make brachos, daven, and be involved in learning (even by plugging into the mainframe). It can be done without feeling and introspection, yet the actions are taking place.

Now, with your average Deceptijew, it’s a little tricky. The actions are there, for show. What happens in public might not be the same in their own home. There is hope, that eventually the chitzionius will bring a level of internal grown.

As I wrote at the outset, I can recall times over the past year when I showed aspects of both of the Tranformations. I’m not please with this realization, but coming to terms with it is, I hope, a start.

The funny thing is that even beneath the Observabots and the Deceptijews is a neshama that wants to be an Eved Hashem. Regardless of the areas that I know I am lacking in my own Avodas Hashem, I have a desire to truly be an Eved. Parhaps there is “more that meets the eye”.
Gut Chodesh!

Parshas Re’eh

We learn the mitzvah of tzedakka from this weeks’ parsha.

It says “If there will be among you a needy person, from one of your brothers in one of your cities, in your land the Lord, your God, is giving you, you shall not harden your heart, and you shall not close your hand from your needy brother.” (15:8).

Sefer HaChinuch, says (mitzvah # 479) that part of fullfilling the mtizvah of tzedakka isn’t just giving a poor person money. It applies to a wealthy person who needs something as well. What is really interesting is that the mitzvah can also be fullfilled (according to the Chinuch) by giving someone in need: food, items, a gesture, or even a kind word to make them feel better.

The Vilna Goan (from R Z Pliskin’s LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR) says that based on the pasuk using the word ‘hand’ we learn that all of ones’ fingers seem to be the same lengh when a fist is closed. When you open up your hand you see that each finger is a different length, just like each persons’ needs are different when it comes to tzedakka.

Of course a kind word or action, as tzedakka, might also fullfill the mitzvah of Chessed. For example, (not to blow my own shofar, but only to so that simple actions make a difference) I recently was visited by some people fundrasing for an institution in E”Y. In edition to giving to them a donation , I also asked if they would like me to make photocopies of their ‘lettters of introduction’, so they could leave with people who were too busy to meet with them. They were very thankful for this simple act.

Gut Shabbos Kodesh.

Thinking outside the Aron

In his newest article, Rabbi Horowitz updates readers about what has been happening on Motzei Shabbos in Upstate NY since his previous article was written.

Most impressive are various ideas that were implemented to create more structured settings for teens and young adults. It was real “thinking outside the Aron”.

Rabbi Howowitz makes the following point, “…we should resist the seductive route of merely ‘banning’ places and activities for our growing teen population. It is entirely appropriate to declare certain areas off limits for our children. But if we do not create healthy, safe, and enjoyable venues for our children, we are deluding ourselves into thinking that we have solved the problems and are setting the stage for far greater challenges later on.”

I know even with my own kids, I sometime set unrealistic limits and ‘house rules’ only to see this just motivate certain Uberkids to go the opposite direction. Kids need choices, even at home.

Oh, the bloggers you’ll meet

When I first started my blog, ideas such as getting comments, exchanging emails and other aspects of social networking were not even on my radar. I simply wanted to get back into writing more regularly. Of course, slowly comments came (once in a while) and emails were exchanged with like-minded individuals.

In terms of bloggers I know personally (off-blog) the list is rather small. Rabbi Harry Maryles and I often see each other walking on Shabbos and around town. I met Psychotoddler briefly after he finished a gig. Frumhouse and I occasionally run into each other, as well. There are bloggers who either know me personally or know of me through a spouse or friends. With readers, there are some I know personally and others do know me, but don’t always comment or reveal their true identities.

This past Shabbos I met up with several bloggers. Originally I had walked to a specific shul to, finally, meet Rafi G, who was in Chicago visiting family. Of course, commenter-brother Shaya G was there too.

After davening I ran into R Harry Maryles. Then during kiddush, I met the the author of How to Measure the Years (I hadn’t read his blog before, but have since read his posts), who was also visiting.

Of course, the next day I had thought of a few great lines that I should have used when I saw these people:

I’d like to post a comment about the Crown Royal.
Hmm, not much chulent left. I bet it got a lot of hits today.
I’m sorry I couldn’t wish you a ‘Gut Shabbos’ earlier, but I was a victim of comment moderation.

I even ended up spending time with one of these bloggers during my afternoon at the park.
As great as email is, there is nothing that compares to a handshake, a smile, and saying hello to someone. It’s nice to meet the people behind the blogs.