Monday, August 31, 2009

Chanukah at the Kotel

In the post before I mentioned that my brother’s bar mitzvah will be in Israel at the Kotel at Chanukah time.

Now here are some art drawings I made in 9th Grade that fit in with the theme. The last one of the chofetz Chaim doesn’t really have to do with Israel or Chanukah, but it’s one of my favorites so I just have to post it!

ChanukahMenorah       Eretz Yisroel men dancingYerushalayim

Man at Kotel Chofetz Chaim

P.S. How do you like my handwriting?

 The Jewish Side

Update: This is what the post should have looked like, I removed the pictures just to show the font.

my handwriting

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Sunday With Grandparents

Today my grandparents came over to my house to spend one last day with us before they leave back to Israel.

I cooked a supper for them, of Pepper Steak, Deli Roll, and Ambrosia.

 Pepper SteakDelli Roll Ambrosia

While at the table we were discussing many things. One topic that came up was me, of course. My grandmother decided my mother isn’t being active enough in trying to find me a shidduch, she asked me for a list of what I’m looking for, so that she can put it in the Kotel. Then she told stories of how all her children met their bashert, some of the stories I’ve never heard before. Imagine a shidduch being made at a funeral!

The next topic that came up was my little brothers upcoming bar mitzvah which will be in Israel IY”H. We are trying to work out the logistics of how everything will be working. The bar mitzvah will take place Chanukah time, so we still have some time to figure it out.

if any of you Israeli people have any ideas

Here’s the deal, my family is not a dairy person nor a salad person either, so that makes our menu limited. My brother will be leining at the Kotel in the morning of his bar mitzvah day. My grandfather wants us to have a breakfast afterwards in this cafe place. But my family doesn’t like anything on the menu! So we found this place called “Sharei Simcha” Which has meat dishes, and they would be able to give us a early lunch if we wished. But my grandfather thinks we need a breakfast for after the kotel, so if any of you Israeli people have any ideas, it would be greatly appreciated!

Then after talking for a few hours, we went for a walk and sat down at some benches. I decided to do some sky watching and took some pictures. (A shame it’s not Friday)

 PICT0093PICT0096PICT0094 PICT0095PICT0098

The men then made Kiddush L’vanah, and we sat and talked outside some more, and then returned to the house. There I brought down my laptop and showed my grandparents 5 family videos that I have made using windows movie maker. We had lots of great laughs watching them. Overall, it was a great family day!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Powerful Tears

Friday night my family was with my grandparents at my cousins sheva brachos. My grandparents had made aliyah 3 years ago, and have come in once, a year before for another cousins wedding. So my grandfather made Kiddush, and he sings the ending a certain way. It brought back memories for my mother, and she missed hearing her father make kiddush, so her eyes started getting teary and she went to hug my aunt.

I don’t believe I’ve ever seen tears in my mother’s eyes before. So when I saw her face get teary, it had such a powerful impact on me, that I just burst into tears. My cousin saw and asked what happened, and I tried to stop, and laugh, and I told her it’s nothing. But the tears wouldn’t stop coming. So I went away from the rest of the people, and let myself cry it out for a few minutes, and only then was I able to join the rest of the family.

It felt so strange to just start crying, because of no apparent reason, other than seeing tears in my mother’s eyes. There were times when I have cried before, and after each time I feel as though I am a “baby”, as though I’m not strong enough to handle whatever situation it is.

But then I saw this Midrash:

“After Adam and Eve were banished from the Garden of Eden, God said to them, ‘Now you are about to enter into a world of sorrow and trouble the likes of which staggers the imagination. However, I want you to know that My benevolence and My love for you will never end. I know that you will meet with a lot of tribulation in the world, and that it will embitter your lives. For that reason I give you, out of My heavenly treasure, this priceless pearl, a tear. When grief overtakes you and your heart aches so that you are not able to endure it, and great anguish grips your soul, then there will fall from your eyes this tiny tear and your burden will grow lighter.’”

Then I realized, that tears aren’t a bad thing, actually quite the opposite, they allow us to heal. When I cry, I allow myself to think about what is troubling me, and to wallow in sadness, and even feel self pity for myself when I feel I have been wronged. I let all these emotions come out with the tears, so that after a good cry, I feel refreshed, and can continue on.

So really tears is a Bracha, I therefore pass on the Bracha to all of you:

“May we be graced with the ability to shed tears, and may our tears release that which dwells deep within our souls. May they heal us as we process, reconcile, and continue on our paths toward wholeness and peace.”

Friday, August 21, 2009

Friends and Family

Having Friends and Family in one’s life is an important thing. But yet they are two different types of relationships. A person is born into a family, they don’t get to choose who their family will be, other than their spouse. Which makes a spouse fall into both categories of friend and family. Since a family member has no choice but to be part of your family, you treat them differently than friends.

Whereas becoming friends with someone takes time, with a buildup of trust and closeness, a family takes no time other than to be born. The amazing thing about a family, is that because you don’t choose who your relatives are, they can be as diverse and unlike you as they come. However, when you become friends with someone it is usually because you like that person and share something in common with them.

One of the movies I actually did see in a theater was called “Son of The Mask”. It has a message in there about a child having to make a decision and choosing between making a new friend or loyalty to his father. It shows how having a family is a great thing.

I have always been one to spend more time with family than friends. On Sunday’s, or days when there is vacation, I would always go places with my family and have a good time. The time I would spend with my friends was limited to seeing them at school and going to their houses, or they coming to mine to study for tests. I haven’t really gone out with friends much before.

That all changed yesterday when I spent a fun filled day with Auror. I had decided it was time to get a manicure, Auror offered to go with me to get one, and help me pick a color. So we went, and I had a really great time. I’ve always imagined a manicure to be a quick thing where they just put on nail polish. But here it was really cool how they pamper your nails. Thanks AUROR! ManicureThen last night I went to my cousins sheva brachos, where at the end they were serving coffee and tea. I have never drank coffee before. My cousin said they make good cappuccino at the place and I should try it out. So I figured I would give it a try. So I tasted the coffee, and I wasn’t used to hot drinks, so it was weird and I only took 2 sips, but it wasn’t as bad as I imagined coffee to taste. 


The ironic thing is, when Tembow asked me back in February, what I’m waiting for -to drink coffee, I said I’m waiting to get a manicure. I hadn’t even remembered I said that, and then it ended up being the case, where I got a manicure and drank coffee on the same day!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Eating In Public

Thanks to @MarkSoFla and @hsabomilner for reminding me of this one.

eating in public

My 5 year old neighbor stops me

You wanted me to make it Assur, well according to some eating in the streets is Assur! One day I had left my house while eating an ices, and I planned on walking to the store and finishing the ices on the way, and then put the wrapper in a garbage can on the way. But then as I walked down my block… my 5 year old neighbor stops me and says “Jewish Side, what are you doing?” while looking at the ices I was eating. So then I said that I’m going to take a walk to the store. So then she tells me that I should finish my ices now. “Jewish Side, you shouldn’t eat in the streets”. So then she reads me face and says, “But you can do what you want, I’m not telling you what to do”.

When the kid told me not to eat in the street. I didn’t want to be “rebellious” and teach her something wrong from what she was taught. So I finished eating the ices there, and then continued on.

But I do remember in elementary school, they taught us not to eat in the streets. I know it may seem ridiculous to most of you, but it does make sense to an extent. For certain types of food, like ice cream etc. (you can use your imagination), it would be untznius to eat these things with people watching you. I actually found a quote of a Rabbi saying that people should take on certain tznius suggestions and this was one of them:

“Refrain from eating/drinking in public areas, especially where men are present.”

So there is actually something to it, the kid didn’t make it up, and my school didn’t make up. But yes, I do agree it is a chumra, and not a Halacha! But yet, there’s nothing wrong with not eating in the streets, so to me it’s a higher level. So I admire those that keep to it, and wouldn’t make fun of them.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Kudos To The Shomrim

So I finally got unlimited text and internet for my cell phone! Then last night I got to actually use it by sending tweets and status updates to Facebook on a live story that was happening. I got to experience what it was like to be a “news reporter” in a small way.

In the past I had written about how great the Chaveirim are, now I would like to write about how great the Shomrim are!

Last night at around 8:00 I was going to go driving with my mother, since I hadn’t practiced for a whole week already, and my next driving lesson is scheduled for September 7th. But then as I went outside I saw a car parked in front of my house with the motor running, the radio on, the keys in the ignition, and a cell phone in the car. I didn’t know whose car it was, so I called over my mother to check it out to see if she knew whose car it was.

My mother didn’t recognize the car, but thought it might belong to a neighbor, so she went to the neighbors house to ask. But then when she opened the screen door to ring the bell, she saw that the storm door was wide open, the house was dark. She called out to ask if anyone was home, and no one answered. So she then called that neighbors cell phone and it went to voice mail.

Then I saw my father coming home from shul, so I showed him the car. He didn’t recognize it either. It had already been 20 minutes and no one came to the car. So my father decided to call shomrim. Within minutes a shomrim guy came and asked us what happened. Two minutes after he came, a person came and claimed the car, he just opened the door and took off. We gave the shomrim the license plate number just in case. Then the next minute another shomrim car pulled up, and then another, a total of 6 guys came to see what the story is.

So now there was the house to deal with, they went in to the house, checked the upstairs, basement and first floor and said there was no forced entry and nothing was messed up, so what probably happened was that the lady living there left her house and closed the door, but it wasn’t closed all the way, so the wind pushed it open.

So the whole thing ended up being no major story, it was still a memorable experience for a few reasons. One being I got to use my unlimited texting, and sent updates to twitter and Facebook as new information was enfolding, and it was a really cool experience. Second the amazing response of the Shomrim, that they came one after another minutes after we called, and they were so nice, and said if we see anything again we shouldn’t hesitate to call. These are volunteers, and they aren’t complaining about coming with nothing doing.

Monday, August 10, 2009

My Attempt at Being a Teacher

Ilana-Davita came up with a great idea – The Mesorah Project. Where different bloggers can contribute their thoughts of what Mesorah means to them.

This week I participated and guest posted here. In the comments Leora asked if I ever thought about becoming a teacher. This got me thinking and it reminded me of a homework assignment I had to do for seminary. Where I had to prepare a lesson plan, as though I was a teacher. So I figured I’d share my attempt at being a teacher with you, and let you be the judge. (I got a 95 on the project, so it’s not that good). The topic had to be from Parshas Shoftim, so I chose Bribery.

Justice: פרק טז׳ פסוקים יז׳ לפרק יז׳ פסוק יג׳
Laws for Kings: כ׳-פרק יז׳ פסוקים יד׳
Cities of Refuge: פרק יח׳ פסוקים ו׳ לפרק יט׳ פסוק יג׳
Rules of War: 'כ -פרק כ׳ פסוקים א׳
The Laws of "Eglah Arufah.": פרק כא׳ פסוק א׳-ט׳

Morah: What is a bribe?

Student: To give money to someone so they’ll do you a favor.

Morah: So then what is the main purpose of a bribe?

Student: to get them to do what you want

Morah: Exactly, a bribe is used to influence people.

Morah: Let us read the posuk in:  פרשת שופטים פרק יט׳ פסוק טז׳‏ 

לא תטה משפט לא תכיר פנים ולא תקח שוחד כי השוחד יעור עיני חכמים ויסלף דברי חכמים

Morah: Let’s look into the Rashi, (student) _____ do you want to read?

Student: ok, which one?

Morah: לא תכיר פנים

Student: (reads the Rashi)

Morah: now let’s try to understand what the Rashi is saying. A judge can not show favoritism even at the time in court where they are each pleading their case. For example: to make one stand and one sit. Since one will notice that the judge is showing more respect to his opponent and he will therefore not bother to plead his case anymore.

Ok, who wants to read the next Rashi?

Student: (raises hand)

Morah: Please read Rashi כי השוחד יעור

Student: (reads the Rashi)

Morah: Who can try to explain what the Rashi is saying?

Student: That as soon as a judge accepts a bribe, no matter what, he will decide the judgment in the person’s favor.

Morah: Exactly.

Morah: Now that we have looked at bribery dealing with judges, let us try to see what else we can learn from this. Who else do you think the rules of bribery apply to?

Student: Rich people?

Morah: Yes, it could apply to rich people, but even more than that.

Student: Everyone

Morah: Yes! Each and every one of us could fall into the trap of bribery. Think about it, if you have two friends and one does you a favor and one doesn’t, who are you willing to help first?

Student: The one who did a favor for me.

Morah: Therefore, Bribery doesn’t only have to be money or anything too valuable, just a few pennies could be considered a bribe.

Morah: Now let us look at the words in the posuk more carefully. Who can think of why the Hebrew word שוחד is used for bribery. What שורש do you see in the word שוחד?

Student: אחד

Morah: That is correct. When a judge accepts a bribe from one of the people being judged, he becomes “one” with him and therefore can no longer judge without being biased. I will tell you another reason why the word שוחד is used with the lashon אחד. When a judge rules a case honestly he becomes a partner with Hashem in the creation of heaven and earth. Since the judge who accepts bribery cannot offer a just decision, Hashem now remains alone, without a partner.

Morah: Who could think of a question on this posuk?

Student: If a bribe is a bad thing, and if the judge accepted a bribe, why is he called a Tzadik?

Morah: Excellent question! I will bring a story to explain this concept.

A Din-Torah once took place before Rabbi Avraham Yehoshua Heschel of Apta. While the Din-Torah was in progress, one of the parties felt that he was going to lose, so he asked permission to leave the room for a short while. In the hallway outside the Beit Din room, he noticed the Rabbi's coat and placed a sum of money in the pocket.

The Din-Torah resumed, and the Rabbi, who up until now was beginning to formulate a certain opinion, suddenly began to change his line of thought. The Rabbi, puzzled as to why his way of thinking was suddenly changing, told the two parties that he would like to call a recess and have more time to think over the matter.

Meanwhile, he prayed to Hashem to be blessed with the proper wisdom to see the truth. A few days later, as he was putting on his coat, he put his hand in his pocket and suddenly felt a bundle of money. The Rabbi exclaimed, "Now I understand what happened to me. A bribe is so powerful that even though it was given to me without my knowledge it had an effect on my thinking."

The Torah is telling us that even though the judge may indeed be a tzaddik and would not accept a bribe, a bribe given to him, even without his knowledge, may pervert his judgment.



True or False

  1. A bribe is only money ______
  2. A judge can’t show favor by letting one stand and one sit, in a court room ______
  3. If the judge doesn’t know he’s receiving a bribe then he will judge righteously_____
  4. Bribery applies to everyone______
  5. שוחד has the word אחד in it to teach us that the judge becomes alone, and no longer a partner with Hashem when he doesn’t judge the right way_____
  6. Only bad people accept bribes_____

Goals: Students will be able to understand what a bribe is.
Sources: Chumash with Rashi, R’ Berel Wein, and Chabad for kids
Materials: hand out the quizzes
Board: Drawn above
Method of Evaluation: Quiz written above.
Students: Bais Yaakov girls

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Spit in the Baby’s Eye?

I went to sit outside today, and my neighbor shows up by her door with her 3 week old baby, I hadn’t seen him yet, so she invites me into come and chat and see the baby. So I come in, and I commented on his blue eyes, and the mother said that all babies start off with blue eyes, so that was interesting to learn.

But then her parents were over to help out, and her father asks her husband if he spat in the babies eye yet. The babies mother and her husband look at her father as though he came from the moon. Then he said, it’s from the gemara, from bava basra, that the Bechar shows he’s a bechar by spitting into babies eyes, that the people would bring their babies to the bechar. So the mother of the baby tells her husband he has to spit in the babies eye cause it says that in the gemarah, to listen to her father. So then he says he doesn’t understand. I mean come on!

So then her father says, just like you go to the Rebbe for advice and you listen to him, same thing you should listen to the Gemara. Meanwhile, I was sitting on the couch next to the baby and the babies mother. So I saw he was actually going to do it because his father in law and wife were telling him too. So I got up from the couch and didn’t want to look. So he went over, I’m not sure if he actually spat on the eye, or if the eye was closed. It seemed pretty barbaric to me.

Has anyone else heard of this?

Meanwhile this is the couple that shows their affection in an interesting manner. So the baby has congestion and was breathing with noise from his nose. So then her father says that she should take medicine for her high blood pressure, and she said she can’t because she’s nursing. So then she jokes that when she dies her husband will marry someone who will be able to nurse the baby without a problem. Then her father says that when he remarries he should get a wet nurse or something.

I just couldn’t believe the way they were joking. To joke about death, and him remarrying, it was just crazy. Especially because she has a tumor, and their always fighting making it seem like they would divorce each other. I just don’t get it.

To add on to the confusing/Surprising day, my brother comes home from shul telling me that the guy who did the kidney trafficking is the father of someone I had known. His grand child had been in my sister’s class a long time ago, and then the kid’s mother decided to remarry to a guy from Mexico and she moved there, so I’ve never seen them again.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Anger –> Kefira

Previously I had written about how Stealing equals kefira. Now we will look at how Anger equals kefira.

Midah means characteristic and measurement. We are supposed to have a certain measure of each characteristic whether seemingly “good” or “bad”. There are only 2 characteristics that have no upside, and they are jealousy and arrogance.

The only way we can possess anger is if we don’t really feel angry inside. When trying to teach a child or congregation, we may appear angry on the outside. The way we are able to do this is because so long as we don’t feel angry on the inside then it’s not real anger. The child will be able to tell that the parent still loves him in the inside, and he will improve.

When a person is angry, what is the classic line they say? “You make me so mad!”. A person whose angry has lost control, they are allowing the other person to control their emotions.

People choose anger for 3 reasons:

  1. To avoid intimacy – “into me see” - with themselves. They are blaming everyone else.

  2. To avoid a relationship with others. Tochacha comes from the word clarify, a person should ask others to explain themselves, calmly. When giving Tochacha you can’t be angry, or else it is pointless. Since the child will just see the anger, and will be afraid to do wrong because “Totty gets angry” rather than because it’s wrong.

  3. To avoid honest relationship with Hashem. They are in essence telling Hashem that things should be run differently.

Kefira is denial, when a person complains about another tzelom elokim they are saying Hashem didn’t do right. Their not noticing that Hashem runs this world and is only good.

Adam complained about Chava, he denied the good in her and was a Kofer. The Meraglim complained about Eretz yisroel and Bnei Yisroel got punished for it with 40 years in the midbar. Complaining is in essence a denial of Hashem, and therefore Hashem punishes for it. Anger is the present day Avoda Zaara, a person is loosing control of themselves, and denying the good in others.

Hashem wants us to change and improve ourselves, so He sends us challenges, with difficult people. If we don’t succeed with one difficult person, then Hashem gives us another chance and sends us another difficult person.

Every morning we wake up because Hashem hasn’t given up on us, so we can change. When we complain we prevent the shefa of Brachos Hashem has for us. So we have to be in control of our anger and realize that everything Hashem does is good, and then we can receive the abundance of good Hashem has in stored for us.

R' RiettiR’ Rietti is another gateways speaker who gave a great speech, with his famous humor.


FYI: These shiurim are part of the Irgun Shiurai Torah program. If you look to your left you will see the schedule posted onto the sidebar, click the image to expand