Monthly Archives: February 2010

I give up

Photo from flickr
Every month or so I am completely speechless when it somes to my children’s chinuch. I find myself left without words, not because my children’s education as been ruined by “the system”, but because I’m astounded by how fortunate they are to be learning so many important things that are not always found in a textbook.

A few weeks ago my daughter in second grade told me after shul on Shabbos that she was “mevater (gave up) her lollypop to her older brother”. I was speechless. Not because she gave up a lollypop (althought that was impressive), but because she rocked the term “mevater”.  It isn’t a word that gets used a lot in conversation.  In fact, I think I’ve only used the term maybe 3 times in my entire adult life.  I’m not against the concept of being mevater, however despite the book, Let’s Learn Middos 4: Being Mevater (which we don’t own), I don’t often think of it as a middah.  Maybe I should.

For a child (or this blogger) it’s important to understand that “giving up” something can be a good thing.  Selflessness, chessed, and understanding what we need vs. what we want are part of growing up.  For me, it might also be prudent to be mevater certain inhibitions and notions I have about my own abilities.  Can one be mevater the things that hold one back from their Avodas Hashem?  Probably, but you have to know yourself and what why you are not doing what you should be doing.  Of course, a true student of Reb Nachman of Breslov will comment that one should “never give up hope”, but you could give up what’s blocking you from hope.

For a second grader to understand that all isn’t lost when you give up some candy is an important lesson and one that her Morah has successfully taught.   I know the lesson was a success because everyone in my family is on the “mevatar-bandwagon”.

Selling out…uberdox style

While this blog is “non-profit” I do get requests to promote items and websites.
One such request that came to me last week and I sort of dropped the ball.  I have previously felt honored that Oh Nuts! had asked me to be involved in various giveaways.  This time for Purim, I didn’t get time to post their giveaway.  However, if you do need to find really cool Purim Baskets or any other candy that is supper yummy, then check out their Purim Basket page.

Again, sorry that I’m not jumping on the giveaway bandwagon, it has nothing to do with Oh Nuts!, and everything to do with me just being busy.

Yartzeit of R Naftoli Amsterdam, this Shabbos Kodesh

Tomorrow, the sixth of Adar, is the yahrzeit of HaRav Naftoli Amsterdam, Z’tl, one of the leading disciples of Rebbe Yisroel Salanter, Z’tl. HaRav Naftoli was a tzadik and talmid chacham of great stature (serving as a Rav in various cities in Europe), whose astounding humility brought him to become a “baker” in Yerushalayim. Below are but a few brief excerpts about his teachings from Sparks of Mussar by Rabbi Chaim Zaitchik, Shlita, which are brought both L’Ilui Nishmaso and for us, to once again, attempt to touch the Midos of the Tzadikim in our own way:

1. Two things are necessary for man’s self-perfection. One is to arouse and inspire himself. The other, by far the harder, is to carry out his good resolutions and retain the inspiration when it comes down to action.

2. A Jew once came before him asking for the “permission of a hundred rabbis” necessary to take a second wife without divorcing the first. In the course of talking, the man spoke badly of his wife. R’ Naftoli interrupted him and asked, “Have you already received the permission of a hundred rabbis to violate the prohibition of Loshon Hora?”

3. When serving as Rabbi, he never sat in the front rows of the Shul, but fixed his place among the common folk. When he served as Ray of Helsinki, he always entered the Shul with a Sefer under his arm. In that way when the congregation rose as he entered, it could be that they were honoring the holy Sefer rather than himself.

4. A resolution to bring all of Jewry back to the Torah was found in his satchel. When asked how he planned to carry out this resolution, he replied, “I have resolved to keep all the laws of the Shulchan Aruch strictly. In this way I will serve as a living Shulchan Aruch, and anyone who wants to keep the Torah will be able to see in me a living example of a complete Jew and learn from me how to return to the Torah.”

Alter of Slabodka on Mishpatim (and his yartzeit)

This Shabbos, the 29th of Shevat is the yartzeit of R Nosson Tzvi Finkel, the Alter of Slabodka.  The following was story was printed in Likutei Peshatim, published weekly by the Hebrew Theological College.
“And when a man opens a pit…and he does not cover it, and an ox or a donkey falls into it.” Shemos 21:33

One of the students studying in the Yeshiva of Slobodka saw a piece of paper on the floor. He bent over to pick it up, thinking that it might have been a scrap from a holy text which would require that it go into a geniza (a burial vault) to maintain its holiness. When he realized, however, that the material written on it was merely some trivial matter, he threw it back on the floor.

The Saba from Slobodka noticed his actions and called him over to speak to him. “It was an act of negligence on your part to toss that paper back on the floor!” he said. “You have now created a hazard in the public domain with that crumpled up paper.” The student was amazed. A “pit” is an obstacle which may cause an animal to stumble into it or a person to get injured. What damage could a simple piece of paper cause?

The Saba noticed the student’s lack of understanding and he explained. “Do not think that a ‘pit’ is only dangerous when you create a trap which may ensnare and injure another person or animal. Even now, you have required another person to have to bend over and to clean up this trash. His path is disturbed and he will be delayed in his studies. You have stolen from his time. This is also a damage, and it falls under the category of “bor” – the prohibition of creating an obstacle which causes harm to others.

“Furthermore, although you are not the one who owns the paper and you did not toss it on the ground originally, you have legally acquired it by lifting it up.” (See Bava Kamma 30a).

HaSaba MiSlobodka