Friday, February 27, 2009

Parshas Terumah

There’s one topic which I never understood and I still don’t understand. I’ve always heard stories as a kid, where one person gave up their olam haba to another, or gave up a mitzvah or something for the other person to have, and this just doesn’t make sense to me. If we are supposed to be doing mitzvos and getting schar, why is it a good thing to give it up to another?

Something To Say:

From every person whose heart is giving (25:2)

Hashem told Moses to tell the Jews to set aside contributions for the Mishkan, the Tabernacle. The Midrash tells us that Moses himself did not donate anything at first – and then could not because sufficient materials had already been provided. God comforted him, saying, “Your words are dearer to Me than anything.”

Rabbi Chanoch Tzvi of Bendin asks: Why didn’t Moses give to the Mishkan? and if he had a reason not to do so, why was it a source of aggravation to him? The Rebbe explains that Moses was afraid that by giving a donation, he might complete the necessary sum and preclude someone else from giving. Moses decided not to contribute because he understood that at times giving up a mitzvah can be an even bigger source of merit than performing it. However, at the end, he saw that a miracle had occurred: The Mishkan was built with all the donations that were made, even those that had not been needed, and he was therefore distressed that he had given nothing.

Now doesn’t this go against Zerizus, to do a mitzvah right away? I guess it really is a good thing to give up on mitzvos, but they just don’t tell children that, because then you would give up a mitzvah out of laziness and not for the right reason. Although here Moshe lost out by giving up the mitzvah. Since at the end Hashem made it possible for everyone's contributions to fit, and Moshe hadn’t gave anything, had he gave it would have fit.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Jewish Song Sunday #15

Aidan and Dotan: Halilu

A couple of years back I heard about the Horrowitz Twins, Aidan and Dotan. I bought their CD and really liked it. Then they were performing with Miami boys at a concert one year. My parents went, and I had really wanted to go to get to see the twins live. But I was comforted in thinking that a DVD would come out and I would get to see them perform that way. But that year a DVD came out, instead the next big hit to come out was their Revach concert a year or two later. Then I was searching for a different video, and I actually found a video someone recorded from their concert.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Parshas Mishpatim

I’ve realized that the hardest people to deal with are those that are very strong in their opinion and think they’re always right. They can be so set in their path, that they won’t even listen to what anyone else has to say. Now this can be very hard, since they aren’t open to hear anything else, no matter if they are right or wrong. My professor used the example of someone who’s been taught that “homo” is evil, will think its evil, and no matter how much “rationality” you give them, they won’t be able to accept it, because they have a bias already.

Something to say:

Do not accept a bribe (23:8)

The Torah tells us that bribery blinds the eyes of those who can see and distorts the words of righteous people. Such is the power of favors that create bias.

The Avnei Nezer comments that there is a major difference between a person who is actually blind and one who is prejudiced because of a bribe or bias. A blind person knows he can’t see and will ask for help when he needs it; but a biased person can be prejudiced to such an extent that he doesn’t even realize that his sense of reality has become distorted. He feels that his twisted view is the true one, and he will not listen to anyone else’s logic.

Now this is why a bribe can be such a bad thing, since the person isn’t even aware of what the affects the bribe has on him. He becomes biased and won’t be open to hear any other information.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


When I think of Zerizus I picture the scenario where a mother asks her son to bring her a glass of milk, and he runs to the fridge, gets her a glass of milk and brings it to her right away. I also think of “Danny three times” where the child had to hear things 3 times before he listened. But I realized there’s more to zerizus than doing what we’re told right away.

Zerizus is actually a fundamental building block in doing mitzvos and leading a productive life. I once wrote about how organization and cleanliness helps you be productive. But there’s still something more needed, and that’s Zerizus. Zerizus tells you to do something without delay, to do it at the first possible chance.

Usually, when you plan to do something, your excited about it in the beginning because its a new thing, that is the time when you are supposed to act upon it. I remember in HS I was always good about it, when girls would say we had to bring in money for a school function, I would be the first to bring it in the next day. Because it was fresh on my mind, so why not do it right away.

If you keep up to date with all you have to do, then you will always continue to do things right away. If however, you figure that you’ll do it later, the next day, so as not to seem over eager, then you will forget about it. Then when you plan on doing another thing, you don’t do that either, cause you know you still have something unfinished to do.

Lately, I feel as though I have so much unfinished tasks to do, that it just pulls me down and doesn’t allow me to be productive. So the key is to try to get them all done, and to do each task right away as its given, not to let things pile up.

When I’m in class, and I’m given HW, I think that I can’t wait to do it, I understood the class, so the HW should be fun to do. I want to do it right when I get home. But then what happens, things get in the way, and I think to myself I still have time, its not due till 2 weeks from now. But then 2 weeks later I’m sitting to do my HW, and I have lost the enthusiasm to do it, its no longer fresh in my mind. I will get myself to do it though.

So this all comes back to zerizus, how amazing the Mitzvah is, such a great common sense mitzvah. Do things right away, and you will be ahead of the game, accomplishing the most.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Jewish Song Sunday #14

This is not a Jewish song, but the way the lady sings it, it sounds like a Jewish song, the tune of it. Also in the lyrics she mentions G-D, so you can imagine that being Hashem. I found this song when I was searching for a song to use for my music presentation for my class a year ago. I had to find a song, talk about it in front of the class and play it for the class to hear. I’ll share with you what I wrote about the song. (I deleted 2 paragraphs, to try to keep it short)

Karen Taylor-Good: My Precious Child

I chose this song because it has a deep inspirational message. I like songs that inspire you that there is more meaning to life than just the hardships that are happening now. This song was composed by Karen when her 21 year old nephew died. It relates a message about a young child who has passed on, and even though the child is no longer here in this world, the memory will still live on. The tune of the song is mellow and slow and easy to listen to. With each verse the tune gets higher its as if its reaching for something which the lyrics imply.

The song “My Precious Child” has one musical instrument, the piano. The lyrics of the song are in verse chorus format. The song's lyrics is about a parent talking to a child that has passed away. The song creates a sad mood of a child no longer there. However, it becomes an inspirational mood, that the child still remains in the parents heart and mind.

When Karen was asked how she wanted to be remembered in 50 years from now she said “I want them to say: 'remember that song by Karen Taylor-Good? That touched me, helped me, moved me, made me cry or helped me understand that, or made me laugh or touched me in some way'”. It is for that reason I like Karen and her songwriting. That she is writing to inspire people, and not just any song that has no meaning.


In my dreams, you are alive and well
Precious child, precious child
In my mind, I see you clear as a bell
Precious child, precious child

In my soul, there is a hole
That can never be filled
But in my heart, there is hope
'Cause you are with me still

In my heart, you live on
Always there never gone
Precious child, you left too soon
Tho' it may be true that we're apart
You will live forever... in my heart

In my plans, I was the first to leave
Precious child, precious child
But in this world, I was left here to grieve
Precious child, my precious child
In my soul, there is a hole
That can never be filled
But in my heart there is hope
And you are with me still

In my heart you live on
Always there, never gone
Precious child, you left too soon,
Tho' it may be true that we're apart
You will live forever... in my heart

God knows I want to hold you,
See you, touch you
And maybe there's a heaven
And someday I will again
Please know you are not forgotten until then

In my heart you live on
Always there never gone
Precious child, you left too soon
Tho' it may be true that we're apart
You will live forever... in my heart

Warning: Kol Isha

Saturday, February 14, 2009

“Goyish” Music, TV, and Movies

Lately I’ve been thinking about music, what types I like, and what I think of “goyish” music. A little while ago an encounter triggered my memory on to this topic.

Usually I’m very good with faces, and I’m always the one to recognize people from my past. But this time I was by a restaurant with my mother and little sister, and at the table next to us was a few girls. We overheard their conversation the whole time, and they sounded like teenagers. I didn’t get to see all of their faces, cause I don’t stare at people. But then when the girls were done eating, they got up, and one girl comes over to me. She says “Hey, your ‘Babysitter’, your so and so’s cousin”. Once she said that I was able to figure out who she was, and I was like “o, your so and so, and I was in your bunk in sleep away camp”. So we caught up a little.

Now how did this encounter trigger my memory to music? Well this girl happened to be the girl that introduced me to non Jewish music. I was 11 years old in camp and she was in my bunk. One day she started singing and dancing to “oops I did it again” By Britney Spears. That was officially the first non Jewish song I heard. Then also during that summer I learned about movies, what G, PG, PG-13, and R means.

That year I had been going into 7th grade. So then when the school year came, I was talking with my friends and I found out that my friend listens to z100, so I started listening to it too. I learned a lot of stuff by listening to that station, stuff which I didn’t understand at that age, so it didn’t even make a difference that I heard it. My friend also had CD’s full of Non Jewish music, I would go to her house and she would let me listen to some. Then I decided to download some of my own, so I downloaded Hillary Duff, Jessica Simpson, Britney Spears and a bunch of others. That was when I was a bit older, at 13 or 14.

During my 7th and 8th grade year I was a bit “rebellious”. My friend had become friends with another girl that she had gone to day camp with the previous summer. That girl decided she wanted to go see a movie, she told my friend about it, and my friend invited me. She told me the movie title and it sounded good and I liked the story line. So I asked my father if I can go see a movie with my friends. He said yes at first, then he changed his mind and figured it won’t be a good idea. But I had still wanted to go, I was excited about it. It was a Chanukah night, after my father lit candles, I ran out of the house to sneak to my friends house so that I can go with her. But then my father knew where I was going, so he came after me, to stop me. He talked some sense in to me, and I said ok I won’t go.

So I didn’t go to see that movie, years later, I decided to finally check it out, and I watched it online, and I’m glad I didn’t go when I was younger. The movie was “Not another Teen Movie” which is not a clean movie, and the beginning scene is a frightening one.

But later that year I did end up going to see a movie. It was a funny story. Spy kids 3 came out, the 3D one, so I decided to go with my friends to see it, and I didn’t tell my parents about it. Meanwhile, my twin brother had also gone to see it, but himself. Yet at the same time, my parents went to see it themselves. Nobody told each other that we were going to see it. What could have been a family night out guilt free, was done sneakily. I had kept my movie tickets and glasses, my little brother had snooped and found it and told my parents, and that’s how we realized that we all went to it.

Originally my family had a TV, I was brought up as a child with a TV, I have fond memories of watching Mr. Rogers, Barney, Puzzle Mania, Full House, Boy Meets World, Sabrina, 7th Heaven, Gilmore Girls, Wheel of Fortune, and others. Then when I was still a child, my twin brother got angry about something and smashed the TV. So then we never got a new one and that was the end of that.

Later when I was in 7th or 8th grade, my friend told me how you can buy a mini black and white TV at value depot for 10 dollars. So I went and bought one. My father knew about it, and let me keep it, so long as I didn’t watch too much, and kept to my priorities. With my brother though, he didn’t let him have a TV cause my brother would play hookey and stay home to watch.

We also always watched movies at home, my mother bought her child hood favorites for us to watch. So I remember watching “Willie Wanka and the Chocolate factory”, “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” and “Marry Poppins”. But once the TV monitor was broken, we no longer were able to watch all the video cassettes we have. My mother used to video us, and we would watch it, it was so much fun. All my child hood memories are on there, I wish to one day be able to convert them to DVD.

Back to my thoughts on music, TV and movies. I think with all these things, you can’t limit yourself to only Jewish stuff. This applies to books too. Let me just add one more thing. Up until a few years ago, I had thought that only teenagers listen to non Jewish music. I thought that fathers have iPOD’s to listen to Shiurim with. When I found out that a married father had gotten a ipod for his birthday present and was going to fill it with music he likes aka. non Jewish music, I was shocked.

I always felt that if you listen to non Jewish music then its something that you keep private, that on social networking profiles where it had a place for you to fill out what music you like, I had thought people wouldn’t advertise that they listen to non Jewish music. But then after being on Facebook a while, I realized that so many girls who I thought were all so frum and wouldn’t understand if I listen to non Jewish music, actually had their own non Jewish music up.

So now, back to my opinion on all this. I think non Jewish music, tv, and movies are acceptable, that they are neutral. Just like everything else in life. That you should judge each song/movie/book on itself. So long as the content is age appropriate and clean then there’s nothing wrong with it.

But yet having said that, it doesn’t mean that Jewish music isn’t good which is why non Jewish music is good. They aren’t opposites, they are both forms of music. There are good and bad in both. You have to judge each song individually, see what you like. I think Jewish music is extremely under rated by those that listen to non Jewish music. They seem to think they are only allowed to enjoy non Jewish music if they say that Jewish music isn’t professional. I think both can sound good, and with my Jewish Song Sunday’s I try to show that Jewish music can be good too.

Now with TV, I’ve had a long debate with Frum Skeptic on this, so I won’t get into it again. But for a researched write up of why TV isn’t good for kids, you can read my post, and keep in mind this is a speech I wrote for my college class, so it has no religious reasons in it.

Now with going to an actual movie theater, at first I wouldn’t have agreed to it. Certain movies I wouldn’t feel comfortable watching with other people, some stuff are more fun to watch in the privacy of your own home. But with regular stuff, I don’t think it would be different than going to an imax or 3d show, that so many frum people go to on chol hamoed. It’s the same concept, seeing a video on a large screen. The content you choose to watch is the questionable part, not the actual going to a movie theater.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Parshas Yisro

In HS I was one of those good students that listened in class. I believed everything the teacher said, throughout my years. If the teacher said something, their greater than me and are the authority and therefore have to be right. There were some parts which I disagreed with Ex: Kollel. But other than that everything they said got absorbed in me.

Something To Say:

Blessed is Hashem, Who has rescued you from the hand of Egypt (18:10).

When Yisro heard of all the miracles God performed for the Jews, he left his home in Midian to join them in the desert. As Moses related to his father-in-law all that God had done, Yisro blessed Hashem. Why did Yisro bless Hashem for the miracles only after he heard them again from Moses, and not earlier?

The Midrash explains that what one hears from a teacher cannot be compared to what one hears from a student. And while they may be the same stories concerning the same miracles, their effect is not nearly as strong when heard by a simple Jew than when heard by a holy individual. Thus, when the stories were told by Moses, and heard by a man of Yisro’s stature, their effect was much greater than before.

See I’m not crazy for having believed what I was taught from teachers. It’s natural to believe the teachers over the students. Just like Yisro was able to believe Moshe because he was the holy teacher.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Real Name v. Nickname

Most of you who read my blog already know my name. If I haven’t been in contact with you, then you may know it from a comment left in my other blog. In either case my name is one of those that can end with an “a” or a “y” or “ie” or “i” or “s”. Now the way it’s officially spelled on all documents with my name on it, is with an “A”.

So in school my name was registered with an “A” and I thought this had to do with a Jewish thing. That you’re supposed to write your proper name. So on all school papers, tests, everything I would write my name with an “A”. But I was always called with a “Y” at home and by friends. But in school since I spelled everything with an “A”, so that is what they called me by.

By some teachers I tried to tell them that I liked being called with a “y” better. But some would forget, and still call me with an “a”, it was frustrating, but I got used to it. Then there was one HS teacher that called every person with a “y” sound, no matter what their name was written as, so that worked out to my benefit, although I don’t think others appreciated that.

Then once I started seminary I had a brilliant plan, I was going to start writing my name with a “y” so that they will know that’s how I want to be called, so on all my papers I wrote with a "y” and it worked, and it made such a difference, I liked that name better.

In my first class in college, the professor told us to e-mail her something, me wanting to do the right thing, e-mailed her. So I e-mailed her about what my major is and a bunch of stuff about me, and I told her that I spell my name with an “a” but like to be called with a “y”, so then she understood and called me with a “y”.

When I sign my name in script I still write it out with an “a” because I’m so used to it. But with other stuff, papers, I’m getting used to writing a “y”.

How do you write your name? Do you write your full name? or the name your called by?

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Jewish Song Sunday --- #13

Meydad Tasa: Ve’hafta L’reacha Kamocha

I realized why I like going to department stores rather than small stores with sales ladies. It’s because I feel self conscious of what I am going to buy, and I get embarrassed un case I have bad taste. I suppose I have to start feeling more confident in my decisions, that I could have good taste, or so long as I like it, that’s what counts.

Anyways, a little while ago I was at a seforim store listening to some music, and I saw this CD, the cute boy on it, and I couldn’t resist. So I listened to a few of the tracks and I decided its a good one. Then later Jacob Da Jew gave his recommendation, so then I was comfortable buying it.

There’s something about Israeli music that makes it my favorite, perhaps its the accent. In any case here’s one of my favorite songs from the album.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Parshas Beshalach

So it’s been a week without any posts. I have ideas sitting in draft waiting for me to write about them. Today with the help and motivation of another, I decided to do some cooking. I didn’t make as much as last time though.  So I made chullent, chicken soup and Pepper steak. While I was cutting up the peppers, I found that the red pepper was pregnant. Lion Of Zion had found a pregnant pepper too one time, and he came up with the idea of it being a segulah, it sounded like a good one. Anyways, here’s the picture of my pregnant pepper:


Now onto the Parsha, this week happens to be my bar mitzvah parsha, in that when I was 13 it was my brothers bar mitzvah parsha. Now this Parsha deals with seeing suffering and crying out. I always feel bad when I see people in pain, and always want to help them out. There was one case, however where I didn’t find myself crying, and I felt guilty for it. It was when my principal was niftar, everyone was crying when they heard the news. I remembered him a bit from when I was younger, and I had some fond memories of him, but I didn’t feel sad enough to cry, I wasn’t that attached to him. But then after seeing everybody else cry, it made me feel guilty about not crying, so I cried because of that.

Something To Say:

Hashem said to Moses, “Why do you cry out to Me?” (14:15).

As Pharaoh and all of his officers pursued the Jews after they left Egypt, God reassured Moses that the Egyptians would shortly drown in the Red Sea.

Why in truth did Moses cry out? Certainly he knew that God was going to fulfill His promise and that the Jews would be victorious. The Sfas Emes answers that Moses had such great love for the Jewish people that when he saw their great distress during the Egyptial pursuit, he could not restrain himself from crying to God on their behalf. It was not a lack of faith, but a spontaneous, protective instinct that prompted him to call out for help for his beloved flock. Such deep caring cannot help but manifest itself in a heartfelt reaction.

So crying is a good thing, it shows you care deeply about the person, and you love them. Crying doesn’t show a lack of faith. Even though you know that Hashem is doing what’s best, you are still allowed to cry.