Monthly Archives: March 2011

cRc Kosher for Passover app

From a cRc email:

Kosher for Passover?  There’s an App for that!

An update is now available for the iPhone App which includes product lists for Passover 2011.  Users who already own the earlier version will be prompted to download the update automatically from the App Store.


The free App is available for download at

Sent via Blackberry by AT&T

Reflections of a "fringe" Jew

Full disclosure:  I don’t fit in all the time, but then again, most of us don’t.

In truth, I play the part of blending into the “mainstream” frum lifestyle fairly well.  I talk the talk and I walk the walk.  However, when I walk, I think about how the word הלך is the root word of halacha, meaning “to walk”.  I also usually hum the song “A Walk” by Bad Religion.  I just can’t help myself.

I rarely have time or schedule time to think about what makes me different from those around me who are frum.  It usually is just a waste of my time.  Once in a blue (new) moon, I find myself in a situation where I cannot distract myself with my Blackberry, hisbodedus, or a sefer and am forced to actually accept that neis that Hashem made each of us different.  Case in point: this past Motzei Shabbos.

I ventured out, on my own, to see the band Pitom.  They were great.  While I am not a major fan of klezmer music, there were enough electric guitar riffs, hard drums, killer bass lines, and one insane electric violin to make me forget that I was actually listening to “Jewish”-based music.

As I sat in a crowd of about thirty, I scanned the audience and found, maybe, one or two others who I’d label as “frum”.  Not a big deal.  It did get me thinking that even though I have changed in many ways since becoming observant year ago, I still am sort of an “arty-hispter-type”.  I still find myself moved by music as an art form, not just as a niggun, a tune to Adon Olam, or the newest song by any generic “boys choir”.

I think that most people, if they look hard enough, have something that makes them different than everyone else.  That is how Hashem made us.  We are all on the fringe of something.  It could be the fringe of getting closer to Hashem or the fringe of going out of our minds as we get ready for Pesach.

Just as each shevet has a different degel, we are each different…created by Hashem, who is “Echad”.

Pitom to play this Motzei Shabbos

Yoshie Fruchter’s Pitom

8pm doors, Saturday March 26th
The Skokie Theatre
7924 N. Lincoln Ave,
Skokie (free parking)

Bridging the worlds of the orthodox and the avant-garde, Yoshie Fruchter and the acclaimed musical project Pitom draw on some of the hottest New York talents. With klezmer as the base, the group’s sound also incorporates elements of rock, jazz, and avant-garde genres. The soulfulness of traditional Jewish music fuses with the energy of jazz and sonic textures for an exciting and innovative brew that has set New York City ablaze. With guests: Yuri Lane and Black Bear Combo (Balkan)

“More than most of the bands on John Zorn’s Tzadik label, Brooklyn’s Pitom understands that rocking is something you can’t annotate… Pushing the whole thing through the scales and melodies of frontman Yoshie Fruchter’s Jewish heritage-if any band can walk the talk of the word “radical” in the phrase “Radical Jewish Music,” it’s these guys. Fruchter is equal parts seminary school, jazz school, and Nirvana’s “School,” doing the same for heavy metal that Zorn’s Masada did for free-jazz.”  –Village Voice 
“Fun, loud and well-played…” TimeOutChicago
“Incredibly creative, remarkably capable, and gutsy band that takes musical risks in stride.”  JazzReview

Tickets and info available here.

I got their new album, it rocks and is great to listen to while biking.

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.