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Life of Yeshiva Guys in Israel: August 2009

Life of Yeshiva Guys in Israel

A Pictorial, Vidorial, and Textorial Panorama of the Life of Yeshiva Guys in Eretz Yisroel (Israel). Join us as we discover Eretz Yisroel and all it has to offer Yeshiva Bochurim.

Monday, August 31, 2009

The Chayal Mover

Check out this environmentally minded chayal who eschewed usage of vehicles for his moving dilemma. Or maybe just 'cuz he was economically minded:).

(Click on image to expand).

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Homemade Jogging Stroller

Thanks very much to Reader Stam who sent this in. Another one for the "Only in Israel" files.

Not exactly sure what to call this one. Could use some help coming up with a witty caption.


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Saturday, August 29, 2009

Travel Tip: For those who get Lost (Eitzah Tova)

So my friend and I are lost. In so many ways.

But seriously, we're totally lost in Teveriah, this past Bein Hazmanim, and we have no clue what to do. We need directions to figure out how to get to our next destination, but worse, we have no clue where that is. What we need is a map to figure out where that will be. The problem, we soon discover, is that a map at the local map-selling store in tourist hotspot Teveriah costs upwards of 100 NIS. And that's not worth it. Especially since we'll only be using the map over the next 72 hours of our trip, and then into the never-to-be-used/seen pile of dira refuse it will go.

And then I come up with this brilliant idea.

We walk into the local Avis store, ask them politely for a map, and walk out a minute later with a free map!

Look at us, the resourceful Yeshiva Guys.

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Thursday, August 27, 2009

Israeli Hot Rod: Smokin' Auto Decor

Yeah. We're gonna file that one in the "Only in Israel" category.

Old Age

Old men are different. People expect old men to die.
They look at them with eyes, wondering when.
People watch them with unshocked eyes…
But the old men know when an old man dies. – Ogden Nash.

I’m scared of being old. Not just being old, but being old and…unimportant.

When you’re young, it’s easy to plan on making a difference. Always in the future. Always tomorrow. Some of us even start acting towards that future now. But then the cold world does a number on our ideals and the fiery enthusiasm of youth. And the fire that was is doused out by the icy indifference of a world that cares not.

I spent some time with an aged Chasiddishe Yid recently. A relic of times gone by. Very real. Not some storybook Rebbe, but a real, live example of a Jew from times gone by. He reminds me of an old, gnarled walking stick that has been used for many years. And through heavy usage, it has become splintered and broken to the point of, well, no return. He’s been used, leaned upon, and walked on for so long that I fear…I fear there is very little left.

His zmiros are a defiance of the properties of song. Singing, crying, moaning and groaning mixed together until I don’t think he himself could differentiate where one zemer ends and the other begins. He constantly cries out “Oy, Bashefer Zeesah, Heiligeh Bashefer”, calling on the Creator to…I don’t know why he calls, exactly. Perhaps he doesn’t either. He’s weary, bone weary with the exhaustion of age, the exhaustion of pushing and pushing for so long.

And now, in the twilight years of a long, storied life, he has little to keep him company. Little family, and few close friends or students. At one point, I try to give him a compliment. I tell him that I like the minyan, the davening. He rejects this with a careless wave of his hand- “The Bashefer darft “liken”, he answers humorlessly. Such bitterness. Such overpowering...depression? Despair? What drives a man who feels he’s already completed the race? Who feels that he should’ve received the trophy, and that the cheering crowds are shouting exuberantly for the wrong runner?

Spending time with such a man is wearying, really. He had planned on making a difference. Perhaps he even did, at one point. So what happened? How did it come to pass that he sits in a large, empty house, bemoaning all that is wrong with the world, without the vision to see himself? He cries out against the usage of mirrors (for vanity reasons), but has clearly never used one- he doesn’t know how he looks, and more; doesn’t know how people look at him. Wearying doesn’t quite cut it, however. Scary is more like it. Terrifying. Will I grow old and despondent, like him? Having never made a difference? Railing against a world that has passed me by? I hope not.

So what can I do to make sure this doesn’t happen?

I don’t know. But I’ve got a few ideas. Never stop working on myself. Never stop loving people. Never give up hope in Am Yisroel. In the power of the Jewish People, and all they can accomplish. Always strive upward. And to ask myself, every day, every morning: How much closer I am to my goal(s) than yesterday. Because without constant movement towards, backsliding is probable, if not certain.

And yet, this old man- a remnant of a world that was, that never will be again- has in him, dormant, mostly, the oil and flame that must have fueled him so many years ago. No doubt he’s been through troubles, pain and experiences far worse than I can imagine with my limited view of suffering. Perhaps that is what has extinguished his fire. But I tell you; I wouldn’t want to be an old man without that fire to keep me warm.

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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Age of Pool (or Snooker Ace)

Take a good look at that kid. He ain't a day older than 14 if that. And they let him play pool, buy drinks, etc. And, he was good. Really good.

And before you jump on me, this pic was from Bein Hazmanim. Sheesh. Chill out.

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Saturday, August 22, 2009

Dog Days Graffiti (Tel Aviv)

On Arlozoroff street.

That's what neat freaks would call a "dog-gone shame".

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Thursday, August 20, 2009

Golus Reminder Alarm

Sometimes, we get lax. In our observances of mitzvos, our relationships with our fellow man, and our connection with G-d in general. And Hashem sees fit to remind us that he is still there...and He does this in different ways. A light tap on the door. Banging forcefully. The shrill, insistent ring of the phone. He has many ways to get through. And if we don't get the message, it just may have to come through by burning down the house, lo aleinu.

And sometimes, its just a light reminder. An alarm clock if you will. Like this scene; I was walking down the steps of the Old City to the Kosel and saw, for the first time during my stay here (outside of a shooting gallery), an unholstered handgun.

The security guy pictured had seen someone sneak into a little hole, and got nervous. Ended up being a false alarm...or was it? I for one, hope I heard the alarm. Do you?

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On Coffee Shops and Camaraderie

Let me live in a house by the side of the road
Where the race of men go by-
The men who are good and the men who are bad,
As good and as bad as I.
I would not sit in the scorner's seat
Nor hurl the cynic's ban-
Let me live in a house by the side of the road
And be a friend to man.

-Sam Walter Foss

Boruch Hashem, I had a very enjoyable Bein Hazmanim. Unfortunately, I can't discuss too much of the specifics of my BH, due to my desire to retain my anonymity...but there was a little action, some trip-ing (no, no that kind), and a LOT of chilling.
When I say chilling, I mean more than just sleeping. Or sitting around the dira engaged in b**l schmoozing passing the night single-handedly rectifying the problems plaguing the yeshivishe velt- I can do that during the zman. Kidding.

Anyway, chilling, for me, means people. Watching. Observing. Even sometimes interacting. And doing so from a discreet, relaxed position, listening to music or whatever.

And not just any people. Oh no. My people; My Yidden. All of them. "The men who are good, and the men who are bad, as good and as bad as I". I can watch them for hours. So where do I that, you ask?

And here I let you, my dear reader, in on a wonderful secret- assuming you aren't a title reader (I know I'm not), and haven't discovered it already. The coffee houses of Israel house the most eclectic, diverse cross section of the Israeli culture around. Perhaps second only to diversity at the Kosel, all types are there, and all over. Yaffo, King George, Rechavia, Ramat Eshkol, Moshav Germanit, and even out of town. I enjoy few things more than rolling into
a cafe and chilling, writing, listening to tunes, and of course watching the people.

So what did I observe? What did I see on this Bein Hazmanim's journey through the cafes of the land? What about the people so attracts, nay, demands my attention? Can engage my interest, and hold it (no mean feat) for hours? I'll do my best to explain, but the truth is you have to try it for yourself to see what I mean...

"The men who are good".

This one spiffilly dressed accounting student type was having serious connection based issues with his laptop. He initially asked the in-house techie of the cafe, and when the techie couldn't help him, the guy was stuck. Or so you'd think.
In a matter of minutes, a number of ordinary patrons with no vested interest in getting this guy up and running did just that- got the guy up and running. (BTW, good bit of trivia to know- "ordinary" patrons in cafes often have serious computer skillz).

In a similar vein, on more than one occasion I've seen random, unconnected Yiddelach help out others. From small things like watching people's stuff while they use the W.C., or even rearranging seat locations to provide others with access to power outlets- nothing surprises
anymore here.

And then, there are

"The men who are bad".

Just the other day, towards the end of the night when the cafe I was in was almost empty, an average American Bais type of bochur around 18/19 years old strolls in.
He needs to use the bathroom. Nothing new. I've seen many people walk in to use the facilities. He's decked out in in a white polo shirt, green khakis, and a leather yarmulke clipped to his head. As he makes his way towards the W.C. door, one of the cafe's servers
bars his way. "Hizmanta Mashehu", he asks? "Huh", he mutters in reply. Clearly no linguist, this bochur. After a minute of exchanging grunts back and forth, the bochur finally chaps what the server wants.
"No, I didn't buy anything".
And in stupefied silence, I watch the Israeli cafe staffer deny the hapless bochur entrance to the bathroom. As the guy turned to make his confused and somewhat embarrassed way out, I observed one more thing.

The staffer was chiloni.

So yeah, there are all types in the coffee houses of Jerusalem. And then again, there was the small coffee shop owner who apologized profusely to me when he realized I couldn't eat anything because of the non-Mehadrin hashgacha. He explained to me why it wasn't Mehadrin;
and made it clear to me that I could sit there as long as I liked- gratis.

Small shop, big man.

And the diversity! Oh, the diversity. All types. Yeshiva guys. Mizrachi. Chiloni. Dati Leumi types. Families in the middle of the day, just stopping in for a minute to cool off with an iced drink. Tech types with huge laptops, using the cafes as offices away from the office.
Dates. Loads of them. Foreigners; Americans, Euros, and even Arabs. Even some organized this one.
And random groups of friends bumping into other random groups of friends. The atmosphere is, somehow, very homey. One big happy family. And while it may be that the prevailing energy and vibe in cafes is good only for collective benefit reasons (see this piece for more on that), the bottom line is that the overall attitude is:

"And let me be a friend to man".

So while Foss likely didn't mean a coffee "house", I have little doubt that he'd have been at home in one. Or at least in an Israeli one.

So that's my Bein Hazmanim piece, and this is Yeshiva Guy, signing off for Elul Zman. I'll have some pre-scheduled pieces going up, but won't be online-mostly.
If you need something specific, or just want to drop me a line, I'll be on Twitter, or you can get me via the Be BKesher form at the top of the page or here.

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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Tax Tithing?

Yep, there is such a shailah. For more information on it, check out Jacob's post here-
and if you aren't cracking up from it, then you either aren't chasidish, or worse, you are.:)

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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Pushcart War

The scene at Sha'ar Yaffo. They're chilling during break, I guess.

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Sunday, August 16, 2009

When the Relatives Came...

...they even brought a fan. (Look carefully on top of the duffel bag on the right).

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Am I Going To Burn?

So one of my much more yeshivish type chaverim turns to me, out of the blue, and asks me what the acronym "WTF" means. As you can tell, he isn't bakant with the shprach.

I answer "What The Flip". Am I gonna burn? For that, I mean?

And if you happen to be an innocent reading this, definitely do NOT look that up. Please.

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Thursday, August 13, 2009

You Know You're in Eretz Yisroel When...

...The Local Druggie burns his hovel up, and random bochurim pitch in to help him out.

...The waitress at the restaurant informs you in no uncertain terms that she'll take her tip in cash, (omits please).

...A lady give $100,000 to HU. The lady was homeless.

...You're impressed by your Egged-mates' shtatty looking Oyster Perpetual watch...until upon closer inspection you realize it says "Rol(od)ex" on it, not Rolex.

...Cars and motorcycles arbitrarily disobey traffic laws...why not?

...A random, fatherly type dude on the train scolds you, loudly, for putting your feet up- in a mussardike way. (Happened to friend).

...There, the Blacks speak Hebrew. Here, the Hebrews speak Black> (Israelis love showing off their poor command of ebonics).

...Ten men gather together to daven in a minyan...and no two belong to the same sect/denomination.

...There, the cars are BIG. Here, the cars are smallll.

...The beggars wear tefillin.

...You walk into an innocent looking coffee house to get a Coke and use the internet, and the waiter tells you "It isn't kosher here".

...You go out on a shidduch, and have loads of fun. With the wrong girl.

...You're bored at 2AM, but never can always go to the Kosel, and have a heart to heart with G-d.

...You can't for the life of you figure out the parking lot's pricing matrix...because it doesn't make any sense.

...All around you, (chareidi) men are wearing tighter shirts than (chiloni) ladies.

...You can't get over the fact that the three primary colors are not, in fact, BWB (Black, White,Black).

...People are rioting! Wait...why? No one is sure.

...Free hot cocoa; no, not in camp, but at the Kosel.

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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

My Big Fat Sefardi Wedding

Not really. I'm not sefardi, or getting married. But, when I stopped at Misadah Yehudis in Bnei Brak yesterday evening to chap a little heimishe essen (and by the way, I haven't had such greasy food since Boro Park Thursday Nights), I couldn't resist crashing this Sefardi wedding taking place next door at the King David hall.

The first video (below) is the chosson and kallah walking up-they do this differently than us;by them its a group event- and the initial chuppah proceedings.

The second video (below) is the breaking of the glass and onwards (note the doves! released midway through the video).

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Walk of Shame

I'm walking down the street in Tel Aviv, dressed to the nines in khakis and a white cotton T-shirt. Aside from my watch, I could've purchased my entire wardrobe for a C-note.
And I'm feeling right at home. I blend right in with my environment. I feel completely indigenous. Like I've been walking these streets my whole life. Like I've been born to the
beat and pulse of the big city- disgusting though I know it is.

Often, when in my Yeshivishe garb, strolling down King George, Yaffo, or a street in Manhattan, I feel out of place. Similar to the way a chayal must feel in Zichron Moshe. Incongruous.
Black hats, pants, and a white shirt may make me look like a penguin, but it doesn't do too much to help me blend in with the immodestly dressed pedestrians of secular Jerusalem.
And I'm sorry to say that in this regard, our Holy City is far too close to Manhattan or Tel Aviv.

And that is the way it should be. Feeling out of place, I mean. A yeshiva bochur shouldn't feel at home in the streets. So why do I feel so comfortable now?
Shouldn't I be feeling some disconnect, no- some nervousness- with these secular surroundings? Shouldn't I be racing to get of here?

But I continue my slow walk down the street, enjoying the surroundings. Admiring the buildings. The people. The cars.
And I realize, that if only once in a while, I need some secular "culture". Like a druggie's fix, it is something I've come to crave.
No doubt, if I were to ask a Rabbi type, he'd tell me that I'm fooling myself. Fooling myself into thinking that I need it, when in reality,
it's precisely what I don't need- what I need to get away from.

But there's the funny thing about us. Sometimes we don't ask. And we choose to, as Nike so aptly puts it, "Just Do It".
We, in the above context, covers the entire gamut of yeshiva guys; Briskers, Mir guys, and Bais/Medrash types. We all do things without asking,
knowing the answer we'd get would be a NO.

So I keep walking. As always, feeling guilty about something. I need to learn how to walk without shame.

Or maybe I just need to stop walking.

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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Rate of Change

Look carefully. First hour is 5 sheks. Second is 4, and third is...8. Hmmm...

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Double the...Clean?

Trying to figure why in the world this restaraunt needs two paper towel dispensers...both stocked?!


Sunday, August 09, 2009

Fences, Clubs and Schizophrenia

"You can't sit on both sides of the fence". Or, "men ken nisht tantzen by baide chasunas".

Complete myths, as any member of any Orthodox Jewry enclave will affirm. Many dance at two, three or even four chasunas per night.

But seriously, the fact is that we all do it. Straddle the fence. And us pre-chasuna yeshiva guys more than most, methinks... And I'll explain:

I believe the first fence straddlers were the original schizoid chevra. I also believe that fence straddling may be the basis for the nature of my current life dilemma.
Fence straddling is what almost every yeshiva guy with some creativity does, or has to do. Some of the lucky ones manage to channel their creativity into chiddushei Torah, or
focusing on their learning. But for the large majority of the rest of us who've been exposed to the outside world, what do we do?

We straddle the fence; for some, this might be by going to a Shwekey concert, chilling to Carlebach,or even on the far extreme, goyishe music. For others, a walk in the shuk does it, or sports/excersise will do it for the more active types.
The point is, almost everyone needs an outlet. The real trick, the key, however, is to make sure that the outlet you choose to use won't bring you too far away from the person you want to be.

And for me, walking down the street near the city and observing PIA (People in Action) usually does the trick.

But sometimes it doesn't.

And those are the dangerous times. When I can feel, can touch, can hear that thing, that bochur- no, guy- inside me that wants to break free. To break free and see a little of what life has to offer.
To experience firsthand the things I know about from other, goyishe sources. I'm not referring to the BAD things. I mean the other, okay things that guys I know have done, that guys I know and hang out with do.

For example. Yeah, I'll give you an example.

Its around five years ago, summer Bein Hazmanim. We're chilling in a hotel room. Motel room, actually. Think it was a Red Roof, but definitely that type. 60 bucks a nite, or less. Strange town (on our way to a specific location, traveling), no one knew us. We were doing the regular bochur Bein Hazmanim shpiel- a little smoking, a little TV, and a lot of sleeping. So the evening creeps up on us, and we start thinking about what to do, if anything.
Now this guy, my friend, is a real chiller. The type who be'etzem i pretty frum, and was raised like that, but will constantly surprise you with the stuff he's done or will do. Like I said, pretty chilled.
We cycle through the usuals. Bowling. He's not so into. Wal-Mart. Did already. BBQ. Ate already. We run out of options, and we're both quiet for a minute or so.

And then, out of the hazy, smoked up hotel room air, he hits me with... "How about a club"?

I'm stunned. I'm quiet. And most of all, I'm scared. Scared that I'm gonna say yes.

Thoughts begin their race through my mind. Feelings start their run through my heart. And nervous energy commences its marathon, starting at my feet and working its way up to my shaking shoulders.

"I'm kinda tired", I answer, after a thirty second pause, trying desperately for casual.

I don't want him to hear the nervous tension in my voice. I feel like I'm a vibrating string being picked hard by some psycho, violent guitarist.
And I'm torn that I really wanted to tell him yes, but didn't, thank G-d, because I was too embarrassed to. Of who? Of what?

Of myself, I think. And then there's that...

We, us, Yidden, have that "baishanim" middah. It is always there. And when you need it, you can call on it.
As much as you think you eradicate it by being "geshmack" and interacting with others outside your natural, yeshivish comfort barrier, its always there. Boruch Hashem.

But after the moment passes, and I'm post-processing my feelings about the question and my response to it, I chap that I'm upset with myself, my "good boy" answer notwithstanding.
I'm upset because I would've said yes had I not been embarrassed. And that scares me. A lot.

What will be the next time, when I'm not with someone I'm embarrassed of, when I'm not with someone I "shter zich" from?

And so we straddle the fence, us yeshiva guys, not knowing what tests tomorrow will bring. And becoming, day by day, more and more schizoid.

(credit to iamJoliePhotography for the pic)

(Post partially inspired by this from Frum Flipped)

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Friday, August 07, 2009

Restaurant Dai'as: Citron (Tel Aviv)

Located in a small hotel in Tel Aviv, this was the only decent Mehadrin place I could track down. After descending steps into the main dining area, make sure to ask to be seated outside. We did, and it was worth it- more on that later.

The French Onion soup is quite good, although it could use some more Mozzarella cheese- ask for some on the side. (Oddly, it isn't listed as "French" Onion soup, just Onion Soup. Funny, for a place that enjoys touting its supposedly French leanings.)

The Lasagna was good- more "bready" than I expected, which just made it more surprising, not worse. Overall, I enjoyed it, and would order it again. The salad on the side was lightly dressed with a slightly sweet Italian style dressing, and was wonderful. My friend's Fettuccini Alfredo wasn't too good- they do it in an interesting soupy kind of way, and the noodles seemed slightly overcooked.

Dessert was decent, in case you're wondering. Except for the minuscule Apple Pie portions, which I had to eat very, very carefully in order not to accidentally swallow it.

And a wonderful bonus was being able to eat outside, since the tables aren't actually outside, just on an outside balcony. It overlooks a parking lot, which offered several interesting incidents of its own for our entertainment, as well as a nice view of the HaYarkon promenade/boardwalk. (Photo Above).

Side note- I wasn't all too impressed with the menu's English; take a look at this photo and see if you agree with me. Note- if you catch less than three, you need some help yourself.

Place is located in the Prima Hotel, on the Yarkon (near the Sheraton).
It was formerly the Prime Grill. You can find more details on this website, although in classic Israeli style they've neglected to update it with info on the Prime Grill change to Citron.

Kashrus is TA Mehadrin. I do NOT take responsibility or achrayus on its kashrus. Do your own due diligence.

And as they say here, B'Taovon.

105 Hayarkon Street
Tel Aviv 63432
Tel: +972-3-527-5660

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Thursday, August 06, 2009

From Whence the Inspiration

Yad Vashem.

I went the other day. I admit it. Yes, I know that Briskers love nothing more than hating on it.
Yes, I know that it is an edifice of and to pure apikorsus. But I also know that
every time I go, and I've been a few times, I find myself inspired anew.

Inspired, you ask, trying to figure that last as your re-read that sentence, your mind having expected a depressed there. But yes, Inspired. In the same way that Sem girls chap tremendous hisragshus from their semi-mandatory hospital visits to "do" bikur cholim. And walking out of Yad Vashem is like departing a hospital filled with dead people...only its so much more sad.

So whence comes the inspiration, you ask?

From one simple poem, easy to miss, towards the exit, right at the end of the Auschwitz set. It is painted on the wall, and it's a poem/paragraph that hits you in the face and goes BAM.

I don't recall the exact order it is presented in, but it's similar to this:

Amen. Auschwitz. Yehei. Belzec. Shemei. Bergen-Belsen. Rabbah. Chelmno. M'Varach. Thereseinstadt. L'Olam. Treblinka. U'Lolmai. Sobibor. Olmaya. Babi Yar.

I've attempted to track the author of this down, but couldn't find a precise origin for it. It seems to be in several more modern/non-frum siddurim as "The Holocaust Kaddish", but again, without a mekor.
So what's so amazing about that? A Kaddish tefillah, with the names of the camps intersposed between the words? What's so inspirational in a zecher, if you will, of all of the Yidden of the camps in one kaddish?

The answer is a fusion of a little of R' Avigdor Miller, the Satmar Rav, and what has since been established, more or less, as the Yiddishe "kuk" on WWII. And when viewed through this lens, the above liturgical lament becomes far more than a simple mass mourning.

It becomes the cry of faith expressed by Yidden the ages through. It metamorphoses into a validation of faith that we will continue articulate not despite our trials, but because of them.

Amen. Auschwitz
. We believe, with our hearts and souls, that You were there. Yehei. Treblinka. And that You made Your Name great there. Etc.

I can't think of a single paragraph that moving. Anywhere.

And that's why I become inspired every time I go.

So the next time you go, make sure you view it with the correct outlook; you'll end up being inspired, if not sad as well.

May His Name be blessed.

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Tuesday, August 04, 2009

So You Think You Can Sing

This aspiring artiste was going strong for hours today in Kikar Safra.

He had a portable amp/speaker playing the background music, and was singing to it.
Apparently for money. Seemed to be doing pretty well too.

And here he is again, later, doing one of the all time greatest songs,
Yossi Green's "Anovim".

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Monday, August 03, 2009

Holiest Beggar in the World (or Market Day in Machane Yehuda)

Sometimes, its easy to be thankful. To be makir tov to Hakadosh Baruch Hu. Sometimes; like right now, for instance.

I’m watching an old Jew begging for money on the street. In America, they’d call him a vagrant. Probably lock him up. Here, he’s just another heilige yiddele, working the pedestrian traffic of the Machane-Yehudah shuk. He appears to be of Sefardic origin, and has a classic weather beaten face with a rugged profile. Entranced, I watch him sitting in a folding chair parked in the middle of the shuk, and I’m hypnotized by his efforts to obtain money for…I don’t know exactly. A meal? Clothing? Rent? Luxuries not, I’m certain. Maybe I’ll ask him what he needs the money for. Probably not. I’m also having an internal debate whether or not to add to the meager pile of change in his little plastic cup. Maybe I will.

Each passerby merits, or is subjected to, depending on your perspective, the same routine; the fellow shakes his plastic disposable cup in their direction, and jangles the few loose coins in it in hopes of attracting their attention. His eyes light up and his body tenses electrically as each potential charity-giver passes. And I watch how his face falls as each passerby, in turn, passes him by. His eyes glaze over lightly, and his head shakes almost imperceptibly in the slightest of nods.
What a life to live. To experience disappointment on an existential level every time someone walks by. How does he do it?

I thought I knew a little about disappointment, and what it means not to attain the object of your desire. But I have little doubt this guy could teach me a lot about my little, petty desires. Imagine living life dependant on the generosity of others. But not in a million dollar donation of which you collect 10% commission sort of way. In the hand-to-mouth way that this oini does. Scary.

In a selfish way, I wish I could accurately the scene in front of me. The disillusionment that this yiddele is experiencing on a minute-by-minute level. The roller coaster ride of emotion he embarks on, every minute, every day. But I can’t. I know that superlatively speaking, I don’t have anything to work with, to draw from in my own life’s experience to match this.

And I’m thankful for that.

But as time goes by, another thought occurs to me.

This man sits here every day. He’s likely spent a long time in the streets- too long. And yet, he still waits on the line to get onto the roller coaster he rides, daily. And here’s the key. If he still gets on it, if he can still be hopeful every time someone walks by, doesn’t that mean that he feels he has something to be hopeful for? Ninety-nine of one hundred people will walk on past, completely oblivious. But because of that hundredth person who pauses for a second to shell out a few shekels, it is all worth it. And somehow, our holy beggar can still hope and pray that the other ninety-nine people will possibly part with some cash. Is such feeling not disillusionment, but the greatest of faith?

But you knew that wasn’t gonna be the end of the story…here’s where we translate and scale the story down to us.

If he can do it, can’t we? Hope in our fellow man? In Moshiach?
Believe in Hakodosh Baruch Hu, in his nearness, his closeness?

And as to whether or not I gave him…well, that’s a story for another time.

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Sunday, August 02, 2009

The Cucumber Pickle

Was eating at Primavera (in the Plaza) the other night, and one of their menu choices was the above. Oy vey!

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