Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Power Of Blogs!

You know how they say that everything can be used for good? well I finally experienced the greatness of what blogs can do.

Recently I had decided to finally write a “meme” post. Now since I hadn’t written it right away when others have wrote it, it had started a whole new chain. I put together 2 meme’s in one, a combination no other blogger had done before. Then I check at those who had done the meme, and almost all had done that same combination! An amazing thing, the feeling of creating. Then I see that other blogs I have tagged were tagging others too, so that it spread to so many people, people I would have wanted to tag.

The lessons I learned from this:

  1. Blogs let you experience what it’s like to create something. It’s such an amazing feeling to know you have started and created something so great.

    Now you can imagine the greatness of Hashem our creator, and how much we owe Him for the amazing things He has created that we get to benefit from.
  2. Blogs show you the amazing chain event of one action, how it can spread to so many.

    With such an amazing ability to spread something so fast, that takes an action, now you can start a mitzvah chain on blogosphere and have so many participants in it.
  3. Blogs show you how things can change as they are passed down.
  • The Power of Loshon Hora, rumors are always changing, and you may not even recognize your creation.
  • On the Positive side, the uniqueness of every person, how every person can look at the same set of instructions and yet all have different results. Each person has a tzelem elokim, with their own tachlis in life to accomplish. We are all given the same Torah, but everyone’s lives are different in how we serve Hashem.

Thank You to those who have participated in the Meme and helped me come to these observations.

Frum College Girl's Meme
Frum Punk's Meme
Frum Skeptic's Meme
Jessica's Meme
Material Maidel's Meme
Mike In Midwood's Meme
NMF#7's Meme
Shorty's Meme
Tembow’s Meme
TooYoungToTeach's Meme

In addition, those which my taggee’s have tagged that had done the meme:

Moshe’s Meme
Frum Female’s Meme
Torat Ezra’s Meme
Childish Behavior’s Meme
Ricki’s Mom’s Meme
G6’s Meme
Katrina's Meme
Lakewood Falling Down's Meme
Baal Tshuva Slowly's Meme
DYS's Meme
Smoo's Meme
On Her Own's Meme

Monday, December 29, 2008


Happy Last Day of Chanukah to everyone! Hope you all had joyous Chanukah’s. For the first time I actually made latkes and it was lots of fun and they all got eaten up. I still haven’t figured out why Chanukah doughnuts have to have Jelly in them in order to be counted as sufganeyot.

Here’s a picture of a Menorah I made in 9th grade art. The background isn’t too great, but for the Menorah I copied my fathers. The second one I also made in 9th grade art, (it’s using x’s on graph paper).

scan0013 scan0012

Here’s a picture of a cute menorah for all the woman shoe shoppers out there.

We were privileged to have 3 chanukah parties on Sunday in our house. The first party was for my Lakewood cousins. They brought a long a paper of picture hints for 22 different Chassidish groups. I hadn’t known there were so many. Have fun trying to figure out the answers, lots of them have Yiddish in them so it can get confusing. I’ll put the answers in invisible ink so that you have to select the space near the number in order to see it.




1. Cherynoble 2. Beltz 3. Stichin 4. Skulya





5. Gebrow

6. Skullen


8. Kasho





9. Karleen

10. Faultshen

11. Spinka

12. Lubavich


fourteen 1

fourteen 2


13. Boston

14. Rotferd

14 b. Siget

15. Satmar





16. Boyan


18. Ger

19. Square


twenty one

twenty two

20. Shoprun

21. Nirbarter

22. Bobov


At the second party we had my cousins from Queens and their kids. One cousin has Knayna Hora 5 kids under the age of 4! Her youngest are a set of twins. She is truly a super hero mother. Her kids are adorable. I enjoyed playing with them, and they are lucky to have a super Dad too! The other family of cousins have 3 kids also little kids, they were cute too! It’s been so long since we had babies running around in our house that it was nice and noisy when they came. Then my mother’s twin brother’s family came, and they actually just had a baby too. So there were 4 babies, and 5 other little kids there, plus the bigger kids. We don’t get to see them too often and it’s been ages since they came to our house so it was a really nice treat.

Party number three was for the Boro park relatives. Those were all adults, except my aunt brought one of her grandchildren so that was nice. My aunt mentioned that she was very good at SET, so I brought my game down and played with her and I was so surprised how this 6 year old was so good at it, right away she was able to get them. Here everyone told a little d’var Torah for my little sister’s bas mitzvah. So my little brother gave a little speech on Parshas Mikeitz since it’s going to be his Bar Mitzvah Parsha next year. So then I decided to give a little d’var Torah too, so I said over my Parshas Mikeitz post.

Here’s a Chanukah Video I made. I am very honored that G6 had posted my video on her blog without even knowing that I made it!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Parshas Mikeitz

This weeks Parsha is going to be my little brothers Bar Mitzvah Parsha next week. He started learning how to lein yesterday, I didn’t get to hear him practice, but I’m sure I’ll be hearing plenty of it soon. So one part in this weeks Parsha that didn’t seem to make sense was when the brothers don’t recognize Yosef. I used to think that maybe you really can’t recognize adults. But then my mother will see people from camp from like over 20 years ago, and she will remember who they are. So then I found an answer that better explains this.

Something to Say:

Joseph recognized his brothers, but they did not recognize him (42:8).

The commentaries asks: How was it possible that the brothers did not recognize Joseph? Even though he now had a beard and 20 years had passed since they had last seen him, shouldn’t his own brothers have been able to recognize him? The answer is that the verse is speaking about a very different kind of recognition. The brothers surely noticed the strong resemblance to their lost brother, but they could not understand, however, how a person could rise so high in stature, becoming viceroy to the king, and still remain on Joseph’s exalted spiritual level. The brothers could not reconcile the two phenomena, so they were convinced that the viceroy could not be their brother, despite, the resemblance. Joseph had proved that it is indeed within the realm of human possibility to maintain elevated spiritual standards even in a corrupt and immoral environment.

So the answer is that they recognized him physically, but couldn’t understand how he can be so great spiritually when he was in such a high position. This shows us it is possible to remain great spiritually no matter what people are doing around us. We have it in ourselves to remain great no matter what!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Happy Holidays?????

I typed this up from my seminary notes on Monday, December 25, 2006 at 2:13pm. Bracketed statements were added later.

We learnt today, [December 25, 2006] from the sefer Hachinuch about the mitzvah of not to follow in the ways of the goyim, mitzvah 262. The reward for this mitzvah is to get good things from Hashem and Eretz Yisrael.

A girl asked if men wearing rings is a problem if its copying the goyim. So my teacher said no, you’re allowed to, it shows that the husband is loyal, just that in our circles Jewelry is considered feminine so men don't wear one. [This was new to me, so I had written it down. Also, as a side point, a ring shows loyalty, and a woman covering her hair shows loyalty from the Torah’s perspective.]

Anyways, we learnt that you can't have an x-mass party since x-mass is saying G-d needs a helper, so you can't say Happy Holidays either. Holiday is from the word Holy day, and you’re saying that x-mass or any other non Jewish holiday is a holy day. But you’re allowed to say enjoy your holiday because then you’re specifying that for them its considered a holiday and not for you.

[People who work and it would look very bad for them if they didn't show up to the goyish holiday parties then they should go, if its not on x-mass day itself, but the week before or something.]

By New years you can't have a party cause its celebrating Yushkas bris. You can't go see the ball drop. [But my teacher said on TV it might not be considered so bad because your presence isn't there, like a rally]

Can't compliment that the x-mass lights are pretty, its painful to Hashem. [DavenedByDeKoisel: I knew I had learned about it somewhere]

[Also, if one were to say that now these goyish days don’t take on these connotations, it doesn’t matter, because it’s judged by it’s roots. For the same reason we learnt by 2 different teachers that you can't name children: Paul, Marry or Peter, because they’re from Christian sources]

[Also We learnt that you shouldn't say happy or merry x-mass, cause “c-h-r-i-s-t” means anointed one and “mass” is a name of a avodah zorah]

Other Halachos concerning Chukas Hagoyim:

  1. Don't bring flowers to cemetery.
  2. If its for something loyal and you have to put on kingly clothes like the white wig you’re allowed to, its not considered chukas hagoyim.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

“Why I believe in being a Religious Jew”

I found this Facebook note from a Facebook Friend of mine, Eli Klatsky, and after reading it, I thought it was a perfect first hand follow up on my encounters with OTD people post. Copied with permission from Eli Klatsky. (A few minor edits by me).


People often question my belief in the torah, Judaism, and mitzvoth. They don’t understand my love for my life and for God, and for learning. They tell me that a person like myself doesn’t become more religious without losing my personality. So I must not be sincere. Interesting. Thanks everyone. Your kind words of inspiration and motivation go a long way.

Yes, I became more religious in the past year and a half. It’s not because I hit my head and my brains fell out. No one brainwashed me. I didn’t go to an NCSY Shabbaton and all of a sudden everything was clear to me. I took things one step at a time. I didn’t set any goals, and I made no commitments. I just followed my soul in the direction it was dragging me into. If you really want to know what triggered it, you can ask. But its really not that important. So please, don’t tell me I don’t know anything about Judaism, don’t tell me I’m fake. Stop challenging me in my beliefs. If you don’t want to be religious that is fine with me but why do you have to start up with me on it because I want to be? You are not changing me, I love Judaism, and I love learning torah. Its always been that way and its not going to change.

On the positive side, many people ask me a lot of questions about why I am religious, what it means to me, and why I think other people should be religious.

So here are my thoughts on being a torah following Jew.
I had people at my house for Shabbat this week. Two young men in their twenties. Both from very frum yeshivas, both wearing button down shirts and black kippot. After our huge meal I suggested we all take a walk together (I’ve known both of them for a while) and so we did. We get across the street from my house and out comes the cigarettes and lighter. I found this situation humorous. I used to do the same thing when I was sixteen… here are these grown men looking to get married looking to start their lives, acting like a sixteen year old angry girl. They then proceeded to check out the bars, and decided on going to the movies instead. I went home. But first I took a long walk in the slush and snow to get my thoughts together.

What is it about Judaism that makes us not want to keep it. Millions of answers are given. I’m telling you there is only one answer and it is that – we just plain don’t want too.

There are other reasons given that seem to make a lot of sense so I will go through them and explain why I think they are wrong.

1- The laws are too hard. Ok even if we agree that the laws are difficult, how do we explain for almost 6000 years of people being able to keep them. Even in the concentration camps and in communist Russia, Jews still tried to keep Shabbat and kosher and paid for it, we on the other hand just throw it away.

2- There is no God. We live in a beautiful world with amazing things happening at all times. How does a tree grow? How is a baby born, the human heart & circulatory system work? Who watches out for us when we are in danger (no atheist in a foxhole) and who do we thank when things go right. Trust me, I have seen my mom in the hospital too many times, myself get out of too many near death experiences, and coincidence after coincidence has left me unable to deny God. Don’t make him have to show you in this way also.

3- My school, Shul, Rabbi, camp, parents… ok, so I happen to agree with this one the most. Yet still do not believe it actually makes someone not want to be a good Jew, rather its an excuse used to display how the person really feels inside. Even if your parents, school or anyone is pressuring you and pushing and you feel like you just cant take it anymore- you still have the ability to surround yourself with different Rabbis, and different people who can help you. You also have the ability to shut yourself out from what they are saying. But most people don’t do this. In fact most people listen vey carefully waiting to hear something that angers them.

4- It just doesn’t make sense. I don’t believe in religion. I’m yet to hear or come up with a good answer for this one all I can say is.. Pretty admirable that you don’t believe in something that people have believed in one way or another since the creation of time. (idolatry, sun god, river god, Christianity, Buddhism and Islam are all forms of religions) good luck with that one.

5- It is more fun to be not religious. Meh. Been there, done that. Not really that much more fun. Non-kosher food isn’t that much better, having a Saturday with no work isn’t really that oppressing, and waiting until marriage to screw a boy really isn’t the end of the world. Are there fun times when you’re not religious. Of course there are, there are fun times when you do anything. Your life is in your hands, its not really so cool to blame religion for your lack of ability to have a good time.

6- I don’t feel any connection with Judaism, it doesn’t mean anything to me. R’ Nachman of Breslov had this problem. His solution was that he immersed in a freezing mikveh every morning, meditated, learned ridiculous amounts in a day, and prayed, prayed, prayed crying to God to help him. He became one of the most spiritual Tzadikim, who is an inspiration to all those looking for spirituality in his life. OK that’s a little extreme for us now a days, but in the Siddor, in birchat ha Shachar- morning blessings there is a a paragraph- Ailu Devarim- these are the things. And it says these are the things that a man enjoys in this world, and remains intact with him in the world to come. They are. Honoring your mother and father, acts of loving kindness, being early in the beit midrash, having guests, visiting the sick, providing for a bride, escorting the dead, absorbing yourself for pray, bringing peace between two men…vi Talmud torah kineged kulam= and torah study is like all of them. Work on these.

7- My life just sucks so much I cant believe in God and Religion. First, analyze if your life actually sucks. Chances are you’re being a little over dramatic. And again, an excuse for how you really feel inside- you just don’t want to keep Judaism. But if you are really suffering I don’t have an answer for this. If this is you, I’m sorry your life sucks if you want to talk about it, give me a call or something.

So this all comes down to one thing. People don’t keep Judaism because they JUST PLAIN DON’T WANT TOO. In this world today where we are in control of almost every thing in our lives. Its hard to serve something we cant see, touch, hear. It’s even harder to serve something that doesn’t enforce us. There are no lightning bolts, there are no repercussions. There is only your soul, and the damage you do to it. make good decisions. Learn from the bad ones.

Please, smile, and be happy with your life. HaShem loves you.

Also I’m really sorry I don’t mean to offend anyone with this.”

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Hilchos Siblings Kol Isha

First off I would like to thank you for continuing to read and comment on my posts even though I haven’t been reading and commenting on yours lately. After finals, after Tuesday, I will IY”H get back to reading and commenting. Thanks for hanging in there. It feels a bit weird to only be taking and not being able to give.


Now, looking at the results from the poll it looks like most of you think it’s permitted for a brother to hear a sister sing. Most of you didn’t even think it was a question, Like of course brothers can hear their sisters sing. I had thought the same way, I knew there was a problem of Kol Isha for anyone out of the immediate family, but I never knew brothers were included in that prohibition.

Now I never felt restricted at all from not being able to sing or dance in public, since I don’t feel I’m good at either one. But there are times at home when you just feel like singing. Then comes the brother’s voice “shhhh!”. I would get this annoyed feeling, and I would feel frustrated. There are some emotions that get expressed through singing, and sometimes you just have a song in your head and feel like singing. My brother would assure me that it’s not meant as an insult, that if anything it shows that my singing may be nice.

Then there’s benching by the shabbos table, I used to always bench out loud cause it would bring back memories of how we used to bench in elementary school, and it made it more enjoyable and meaningful. Even on R’ Elbaz’s Tefillah slideshow, he said that you should bench out loud cause you have a greater kavanah that way.

I’ve been to friend’s houses when I was younger, and I remember the sister’s would all sing by shalosh seudos, I thought that was a nice thing. The large family, with 9 girls and 2 boys, the older boy is 15, yet I always hear them singing shabbos zemiros. Even when they’re in their succah outside, I hear the girl’s singing. I guess because the girl’s are a bigger ratio than the boys they get to do what they want, and their brother can’t stop them. But yet, they’re a yeshivish family, and the brother never tries to stop them, he’ll be there listening to them sing with no problem.

Now, I know some people hold that zemiros is in a different category, and isn’t counted as singing. That would be nice, but yet my brother doesn’t believe in that, so I can’t bench out loud.

I had always imagined that when I would be a mother I would sing to my kids shema and modeh ani and other songs. I would imagine it being a way of showing love to my children and it would build a connection. Edit: Deleted

Now about the actual poll and the correct answer. The answer is “Yes, under the age of 11”. I had been upset when my brother told me I can’t sing anymore, and I didn’t believe that brothers can’t hear their sisters sing, so I made him ask a Rav. He asked a Chassidish Rav, and I said that doesn’t count. So then he asked a different Rav, and the Rav answered that sisters over the age of 11 can’t sing in front of their brothers.

My little sister was 11 years old at the time, so in a way I was happy that I wasn’t the only one that couldn’t sing. So when she would sing, my brother told her to “shhh!” too, and he would say it’s “Kol Isha”. So she figured out that a girl’s voice is “Kol Isha”. But she didn’t realize that it was only forbidden for boys. So when it was only us girls home, and the boys were in shul, and I would finally get to sing, she would tell me “Kol Isha!”. It made me laugh at first. I tried to explain, that it’s ok for girl’s to hear each other sing, but I still don’t think she gets it.

Edit: Deleted

Friday, December 19, 2008

Parshas Vayeshev

I’ve always heard how Yosef would look into the mirror and that he was into his appearances, and I always wondered why this was. Then I finally saw a reason.

Beloved Children:

The Torah calls him a boy, even though he was already seventeen years old, because he behaved in ways characteristic of youth.

Why did Yoseph behave in ways which were characteristic of youth? Yoseph was the child of Yaakov's beloved wife, Rachel. Everyone knew that she was the one Yaakov considered to be his true wife. This gave Yoseph the status of being the favored son among all the others. He was the son who was supposed to take his father's place.

Everyone knew that only one son of Avraham would take his place, and that was Yitzchak. Similarly, only one son of Yitzchak took his place, and that was Yaakov. Thus, everyone assumed that only one of the many sons of Yaakov would take their father's place. Since Yoseph was the son of Yaakov's beloved wife, he was the natural choice. This situation was a trial for Yoseph. He was not an only righteous son as his father and grandfather had been. They had no competition, since Yishmael and Esav were not really candidates for taking their fathers' place. But Yoseph did have real competition. All his brothers were spiritual giants. To ward off their jealousy,(10) Yoseph played the simpleton. He pretended that he was not as interested in spirituality as was his father. He preferred combing his hair, accentuating his eyes, and paying great attention to his appearance. When the brothers saw him act in this way they left him alone, thinking that such a simpleton would never pose a challenge to them in taking their father's place.

We learn from here to not show off, and sometimes to even pretend you’re lower than you are, and it will make it easier for you to become a greater person without worrying about the competition interfering and trying to bring you down. So that is why Yosef was all into his appearances, it was a show for his brothers so that they wouldn’t view him as competition and then he would be able to take over his father’s place.

Speaking about appearances, Leora writes about Tamar, how she got dressed up and seduced Yehuda and then got pregnant. And on the flip side how she was modest in Yehuda’s house so that he didn’t even recognize her.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

New Square Wedding

Sunday night I went to a Square wedding, it was a really interesting experience. To start off with, the wedding was of relatives of mine, where the chosson and Kallah were both related to us and each other. So the whole wedding was one big family wedding.

Here’s a little diagram to understand how everyone was related.

square wedding

When we got there for the wedding it was late already, past 10:00. We missed the Chupah but they had just finished eating the main course. So when we got there relatives came over to say hello and surprisingly they did all speak English. Then one of my father’s cousins prepared me and my mother a seat and a main dish, and she told us to sit and eat. At this time they started dancing.

By them they do things very different. They don’t have 2 dances, but rather they eat first and then have one long dance for the rest of the night. So as we were sitting eating it was right next to them dancing so it was some cool entertainment, to sit facing them dancing.

The next different thing is that the hall is very different, it has 3 floors. The men get the first floor and they have a huge room. Then the woman are on the third floor and they have a medium sized room. I found this very strange, I have never seen a wedding before where the men’s section and woman section are on completely separate floors. It made it feel less like a wedding and more like a woman’s party.

Although, on the second floor, when you go to hang up your coat, that room is filled with windows and if you look down then you can see the men dancing, but there’s such a height difference between the two, that you can barely see faces.

Another thing I noticed was the clothing, besides for the obvious chassidish garb, I noticed that the girls all looked like they were wearing uniforms. The teenage girls I mean, they had white blouses, with jumpers. Not fancy jumpers that can look nice, but uniform looking jumpers. All the girls looked like they were wearing the same clothes, making it look more like a uniform.

The little girls had gowns and their hair was done fancy, but yet they didn’t seem to be dancing much, they were laying down on the stage part where the Kallah’s table was. I figured it’s probably because they go to a wedding every night, that this just isn’t new to them anymore. I mean this was the only dance, so it’s not liked they got danced out before. But then when the ices came they all ran over to get some.

Overall, it was a really cool wedding, I’ve been to a Square wedding once before when I was younger, but there he married a Sephardi girl, so that was different in a different way.

We were talking to some relatives that we never met before and it was actually funny how these chassidish woman who have 12 kids on average think it’s amazing how my mother was able to raise a bunch of twins. Not to take away from my mother’s greatness or anything.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Jewish Song Sundays --- #8

Destiny 4: King of Tony’s

I recently posted about my encounters with OTD people and Ricki’s Mom’s comment reminded me of a song that fit perfectly with what she had said. It shows how a mother truly loves her son even though he went off and she waits for him each day and hope’s he’ll come back, and she never gives up hope. It’s such a beautiful song, the words and tune fit perfectly. Unfortunately, this song on the CD got scratched so I can’t share it with you, but I can share an excerpt of the song. This music preview has the part I like about the song.


In the dimly lit pool hall clouds of smoke hung low
As the smell of leather jackets mixed with cheap cologne
Leaning on a table a young man in his teens sharp eyes, skilled hands, pool cue
And designer jeans.

But there’s another table, decked out in satin white
With an empty place by father’s side on this Friday night
And mother’s waiting hopefully by the window sill
For Dovie boy who shootin pool in Tony’s Bar and Grill

Where have you gone? Gone so far? We still love you even though you may be far,
far away…

Super cool and accurate he’d win and never lose
Everyone at Tony’s knows him as the King of the cues
As mother’s praying silently, who will save his soul?
Dovie shoots a backspin to a tune of Billy Joel.

Sometimes late at night a he sits back inside the haze
Thinking of the times gone by, those old yeshiva days
He remembers them quite clearly, it was the time he turned 15
Those sharp, warm embracing eyes of his rebbe, Rabbi Green.

Dovie..He could hear him say. You’ll be a Talmud Chochum, one day…one day…

Where have you gone?……..

A stranger entered Tony’s, late one Sunday night
Rack em up he said, I’m gonna beat the king tonight
Wearing cowboy boots a cowboy hat and talking really mean
But in the dim smoky lite his face could not be seen

Shot after shot, this guy was no fake
Dovie started sweatin his reputation was at stake
The stranger had one easy shot left to win the game
Dovie knew he’d lose and things would never be the same

An amazing thing then happened, the stranger missed the shot
The crowd thought it was an accident Dovie knew that it was not
This guy had given him the game but why he wished he knew
Dovie pulled away from the cheering crowd and said:
Hey thanks man, but who are you?

The stranger said perhaps, it would be best to step outside so they made their way
out through the crowd to the street and to the light and Dovie saw him stare at him
with eyes he once had seen the sharp embracing stare, the eyes of Rabbi Green

The two of them stood silently looking into each other’s eyes
Dovie was the first one to break the ice
Hey Rebbe, that was the meanest game of pool I ever did see
But what made you come here on this night to play…a bum like me

Dovie the Rebbe said, you’re no bum, ‘cause I know you and were you’re coming from
It’s never too late to change, don’t you see…The King of Tony’s was once me..

There’s a yeshiva out of town, now a source of pride and fame
The Rosh Yeshiva’s a talmid chocham, Reb Dov is his name
And during recess there’s a pool table where the students like to play
But no one’s beat the Rosh Yeshiva till this very day.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Parshas Vayishlach

First off, this weeks Parsha was my older brothers Bar Mitzvah parsha so I remember him practicing leining it and I got to learn the story that way. The main part I remember is Yaakov Greeting Eisav. There’s a song that pops into my head when I think of this weeks parsha. It’s a song I learned as a kid, and I see now the children are still learning the same song. A song from 613 Torah Avenue. Although I only had remembered 4 of the lines of the chorus, and hadn’t recognized the rest of the song.

Something To Say:

I have sojourned with Laban (32:5)

When Jacob sent messengers to his brother Esau, he told them to relay the above message to his brother. Rashi comments that the word Garti in this verse has the numerical value of 613, which is also the number of mitzvos in the Torah. By using this word, Jacob was alluding to Esau, “I dwelt with Laban and kept the Mitzvos; I did not learn from his bad deeds.” The simple meaning of this statement is that even someone on the high spiritual level of Jacob could have been influenced negatively in the environment of a Laban; it was a substantial accomplishment that he withstood the test of living with the evil and dishonest laban.

I learned 2 great lessons from this. One the lesson of “don’t believe in yourself till the day you die”. That even Yaakov on such a high level had to worry about not getting influenced from Lavan. That no matter how strong you think you are, you can fall into the trap, so you have to be careful. Second is that it was considered a great accomplishment for him to have still kept the 613 mitzvos with lavan. Shows that no matter how great the person you still have to acknowledge when they did a great thing. That it wasn’t taken for granted that Yaakov will for sure keep the 613 mitzvos.

Another great lesson learned, is that even if you are right in what you are doing, you still have to do it in a nice way, otherwise it may come back and haunt you. Like where Timna was rejected in a not nice way, and then Amelak came from her and was an enemy to the Jews.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

My Encounters with OTD people

This is going to be a long post…but don’t let that turn you off! I actually wrote this a long time ago and just hadn’t posted it yet. I wrote it on 10/8/08.

My first experience with an off the derech person was with a girl. She had been my classmate till second grade, at that time she was a sweet nice girl. I don’t remember much of her since I was very young. Fast forward 10 years and I see her profile on myspace. I knew she had left my school but I never knew what came out of her till then. I saw she had been switched to public school and was attending the same college as me. I communicated a bit with her online, she had remembered me and asked what’s doing with everyone else from the class. I caught her up with whose engaged and married. I never figured I would see her again in real life.

Then one day as I was walking to the city bus stop by college, I recognized her eating in a treif store. I wasn’t going to go in the store to say hello to her. Then a couple of days later I actually meet her, I recognize her again, so I stop her and ask her if she is “so and so”, she says yes, then she realizes who I must be, and we did some talking. She is now majoring in either music or acting, one of the entertainment kind of majors. I realize she is totally off the derech, but yet since I barely remember her when she was younger I am able to accept the new her. She is still nice and everything, just with a different life style. I don’t feel close enough with her to invade in her privacy and ask her why she went off. Although my thinking is that she was never really on. She is Russian, so perhaps her family hadn’t been so religious and they just chose my school in the beginning because they felt they owed her some type of Jewish education.

My next encounter with an off the derech person was with a boy. Here it was very different. Here he was a neighbor and a couple of years younger than me. He was a good friend of my brothers for a while. They both had blond hair and were of the same height so everyone would comment how they look so much alike. The boy’s family was a bit mixed, again a Russian family, his parents were never so religious but they did keep Shabbos and Kosher. His parents got divorced and his step father is much more religious, so he would bring the boy to shul and made sure he davened. But yet the mother didn’t cover her hair so mixed messages were being sent. But overall he was a good boy. I can picture him as a cute 13 year old boy.

Then one day I don’t know what happened but all of a sudden I see him grow his hair and dye it black. He also started smoking and listening to heavy metal. It made me look at him in a new way, he became different, scary and creepy to me. At first I thought perhaps he is still the same person. When I would see him, I would wave and say hello, but I would get no response, it’s as if he doesn’t know who I am. One day as I was walking on my block, I turned a corner which is near some bushes then all of a sudden he jumps out from behind the bush and tries to scare me. I still thought of him as his old self, so I laughed and said “very funny”. But he didn’t respond back, he made no acknowledgement that he knew who I was, with his hood hiding his face. I had joined facebook and while searching for people I might know, I found him. I added him as a friend and messaged him asking what’s up with that trick/scare he did on me, but he never replied back.

So I admitted that he must of changed and became different, so I then regarded him as a creepy person who is unfriendly. Then recently I saw he uploaded pictures on facebook and I saw a picture of him hugging and kissing a girl. I couldn’t understand how someone could actually let him touch them. Then I saw his status said that he loves the girl who was tagged in the picture with him. This shocked me further, that he is actually capable of love.

So you see with this second person my attitude was totally different. I saw it as so sad that he changed from that cute boy I pictured to the scary looking teen he is now. He had a change of personality in addition to his going off the derech. My next two encounters were similar with the second one, just a bit different.

The next two boys are brothers, their father had died a couple of years back and I guess they didn’t get much guidance and they had grief in them. I’m not one to judge. These two didn’t go off the derech completely, they still keep mitzvos I think, but they changed their personality. Both grew their hair long which made me question if this is a sign of rebellion and anger, and a sign that they are going off the derech.

What made me think about this all is that on Rosh Hashonah as my family was walking to Tashlich, I noticed that the younger of the two brothers I just mentioned before, had grown his hair long and was wearing a black t-shirt and a magen david necklace. His face didn’t look right, it gave me that creepy feeling that something must be bothering him. It got me sad to picture him turning out like that other boy. I felt bad for the pain he must be going through. He had just been seen at shul a few days prior to Rosh Hashonah so it was a big shock to see him that way. He had been with some other boys from shul who are frum good boys so at least he was still hanging out with good friends. But when asked if he went to Tashlich he pointed to the Tehillim my brother was holding and said  “I would throw that into the water” so there was something troubling him about being Jewish. Then on Yom Kippur I saw him with the other boy and they were both purposefully eating food in front of everyone.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Jewish Song Sunday --- #7

The Jewish Version: Shalom

There are many Jewish artists that are known for copying the tunes of non Jews and making it into a Jewish Song. Gershon Veroba would do this a lot and copy green day songs. The Jewish version would also. It’s actually interesting cause most of these songs I heard the Jewish one first before the Non Jewish one. Actually there’s one song “I’m a Believer” where I got so used to the Jewish one, that when I heard the non Jewish one it just sounded so wrong. Anyways, I was listening to Jr’s old favorite song, and I realized that I knew the Jewish one, and again I had heard the Jewish one first, and I liked the Jewish one better, so here it is.

O, and I have a question. If an artist e-mailed me one of their songs that they said will be on a CD in the future, and it’s at least a year or two later, and I’m not sure if it appeared on a CD yet. Am I allowed to post the song up?

Some Technical Information:
For those that want to download the video into avi or mpeg then you can download Save 2 Pc.
If you want to download just the music from the video then you can do that at Vid 2 MP3.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Parshas Vayeitzei

For some reason this Parsha always troubled me, and I had a question on it. Here is where Leah was supposed to marry Eysav, and Rachel was willing trade places with her. So to me it always seemed like Rachel was doing the wrong thing, because she was going to marry the bad guy. When I was younger it always seemed like the “bad” stuff is what we want. So I had always thought that Rachel must have wanted to marry Eisav because he was “dangerous and evil”. I had thought that you weren’t supposed to put yourself in a bad place, even if it was to “help” another.

But yes, I do realize that Rachel did a great thing by giving over the signs not to embarrass Leah. Rachel got a tremendous Zechus for this, and we always daven by her Kaver, and only she was able to save the Jews at one point.

Something to Say:

[Leah] declared, “This time let me gratefully praise Hashem”; therefore she called his name Judah (29:35).

Rashi explains Leah’s reaction to the birth of her fourth son as follows: “because I have received more than my expected share, from now on I should praise God.”
The Chiddushei HaRim comments that this was why she called her son Judah,, for the root of the name Judah means thanksgiving. This is why a Jew is called Yehudi, derived from Judah (Yehudah). Thus, the name that identifies a Jew is based upon the concept of thanksgiving, because every Jew must realize that all he or she has been given on this earth is a Divine gift. Even our name expresses the realization that everything we have is graciously bestowed upon us by God.

Now I found this very interesting, cause I had always wondered why Jews were called Yehudim. Now I realize it is because we are always thankful to Hashem for everything He has given us, because without Hashem giving, we wouldn’t be in existence.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Does Halacha Change?

I saw this post at Wolfish Musings which reminded me of something I had once learned. At first I commented on the woman learning Gemara part, and I have to say it is a really amazing feeling to see something from the Gemara and actually know what it’s talking about and where it came from. Ex: Lakewood Falling Down’s Post. But now I’m going to comment on a different part of the Wolf’s post.

The Wolf asks:

“The question at hand was whether it's possible that rabbinical statements could be influenced by the environments in which the people who uttered them lived in, or are they delivered in a vacuum (so to speak) and are always valid at all times and under all circumstances.”

My Answer (As typed up from my seminary notes from R’ S.):

There are many things in Halacha that seem to be contradicting and you start to wonder if maybe Halacha changes as time goes on or if the Rabbi's were wrong.

Here are some Examples:

  1. If a cat attacks and animal, that animal becomes treif from the venom poisoning it.
    Q: But there's no Venom in a cat.
    A: Cats that go into the garbage get infections, so Halacha doesn't have to change, there's just a different reason.
  2. On shabbos you could kill lice, you can't kill stuff that reproduce, lice comes from dirt.
    Q: But its impossible that something comes from nothing.

    A: 1679 - Pachad Yitzchak said chachamim made mistake about not being able to kill lice.
    All Torah was given to Moshe, how to apply it was given to the Chachamim, Moshe said you could kill lice, we find reasons based on knowledge and apply it, the reason could be wrong, but Halacha is not wrong.

    Chachamim knew reasons aren't good, but people would only listen if there is a reason to believe to accept the Halacha. It’s a reason that people believed in at that time.

    There are Many reasons for halacha, not just 1 reason, but it doesn't say all the reasons.
  3. Bird grows from tree and needs shchita
    Q: But its not possible that a bird comes from a tree.
    A: A bird coming from a tree is just a metaphor.
  • A) Chachamim had superior knowledge -- Ruach Elokim, even if scientist say that its not true.
  • B) Overtime nature has changed, we can't use their refuahs cause we changed, were not the same, certain halachos could change.
  • C) It could be we misunderstood the chachamim, so we can't say they’re making mistakes.
  • D) They spoke in metaphor's, not everything is meant to be taken seriously.
  • E) Chachamim got knowledge from scientist, then they made Halachos, now Halacha changes.


  1. Snake stays pregnant for 7 years. Now it takes only a few years, scientist did research and found garter snake is pregnant for 7 years. So it could be that in the time of the chachamim there was a snake that was pregnant for 7 years.
  2. Salamander oil if you smear it on your body it will become fireproof and won't burn, if there's a continuous fire for 7 years then a salamander will come from it. There are different types of salamanders.