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Life of Yeshiva Guys in Israel: September 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.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Goodbye, Reloaded

So I'm on a plane flying from one country to another. Like from Armenia to France. Or from Canada to Kenya. A mere transatlantic transposition, right? Except that it isn't. Not really. There are oceans of difference, actually, between traveling from Eretz Yisroel to anywhere else and a regular country change.

The difference is that apart from flying from end of the world to the other, I'm flying from one end of the emotional spectrum to the other. Notice how I said emotional spectrum, and not spiritual spectrum. That's an entirely different, although equally true, story, one which I spoke a little about here.

What do I mean by this "emotional shift"?

It's an amazing thing, really, how rarely I notice this after a year and a half of life in the Holiest City in the World. The danger. Or potential danger. Once in a while, perhaps, when bussing with an odd looking fellow who is doing something beyond the usual level of weird that passes for normal in this crazy, lovable country. Or maybe upon spotting a harmless group of Palestinian burqa clad ladies doing some peaceful shopping on Yaffo. The triggers can be wide and varied- if you've been here for any length of time no doubt you can identify a few yourself.

But for the last year or so, unlike when I first came, I am no longer daunted by the endemic soldiers and their accompanying rifles. I no longer am disturbed by the sight of a regular looking Jew with a long beard strolling down a side street of Geulah with the butt of a pistol peeking over his waistband, neatly framed by his t'chailes tzitzis. Today, the sound of jets overhead, or the steady beat of the whirling blades of military copters up above is no longer cause for consternation.

So I'll be leaving all these things I don't notice anymore that make like in Israel so unique. I'll be in a land where I can buy fruits and vegetables in a store without checking a teudah (cool, I know), and where words like ambience and decor can be found in the local restaurateur's parlance. To a city where I can no longer meander along a random street and bump into nine different nut stores, all with the same only slightly varied selection of pitzuchim and fruit leather.

As I sit here, pondering my shift in daily climate in the all too near future, I realize that these aren't good things. Both the fact that I've become desensitized to the above phenomena, and the fact that I won't be experiencing them for the next month or so. Here's why.

In those early salad days of mine, when I was, and felt like, a greener, the fine feline fellows that roam Jerusalem's streets had nothing on me. As I walked, my eyes would dart about, my every move geared for imminent disaster. Ashamed I am to admit this, but every so often I'd find myself lost in reverie-like dazes, deliberating the safest course of action one should take in a given emergency situation. Sharp noises, -commonplace enough in the capitol-of-Yeshivish-cars-Meah-Shearim- were enough to flip me out.

And what does any red blooded Yeshiva Bochur do when he flips out? How do most of us who have been raised in frum homes react when we flip out? We instinctively turn to Hashem.

So my thought process would go something like this. Walk onto number 2 bus. Spy a swarthy hombre who could pass for either an Israeli or an Arab. Get a little nervous. Fidget. Then...
"Uh oh. There's that weird looking dude sitting there in that seat...what's he doing there, under that Ha'aretz that thing black...metallic?...should I call the Mishtara...he might be a, get a grip...chill out---Hashem is with you, and if He wanted you dead you would be."

Realize that the above example of a Yeshiva Guy's cognitive daisy chain is by no means atypical. That would be a classic case of how most born and bred frum people might reflexively react to this sort of circumstance, with some variation or another.

Does this mean we are cheapening our Emunah, calling on it only to assuage our paranoia? Only when we need to comfort our inner delusional Chutznik? Perhaps. But the bottom line was that in those days, I was calling on Him so much more. He was an integral part of my daily life, back when the holy homeless men of Zichron Moshe used to frighten me. Now, not so much.

And I think I'm going to miss that.

Like a popular Jewish lecturer put it "Here in Yerushlayim, you gotta be much more careful what you do- G-d is only a local call away ".

And in America, He'll be a long distance call. Although I can talk to Him anywhere and anytime, I'll have to add that area code. And you want to know something... I'm already starting to miss it.

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Sunday, September 27, 2009

Forgive and Forget

Alas. The hour is late.

I had wished to detail the difference between the Xtian approach to forgiveness ("turn the other cheek, etc"), and our approach. In a wordy, pedagogical  essay worthy of the academia that never would have seen it. Or the Rabbonim that would never see it. Or the Yungeleit who would.


For now, I simply wish to beg, B'chol Loshon Bakashah complete forgiveness from all the readers and commenters of IYG. Thanks for reading, and if I intentionally or unintentionally slighted you, however slightly, I regret having caused you pain.

Be well, holy Jews, and stay holy. Cry like never before, and beg forgiveness before the holy one.

Say Viddui, regret your sins, and learn some Mussar. And above all, feel bad, feel terrible about your sins. All of them.

And may we all be forgiven.

-Yeshiva Guy

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Friday, September 25, 2009

Goodbye, But Not For Long

I and quite  few other bochurim will be returning to Chutz La'aretz in just a few days. I just can't wait for that flight-NOT- tons of bochurim all on their way home. Boruch Hashem, it is mostly bochurim on this flight. The families are traveling in the opposite direction- from America to Eretz Yisroel, and those others are already here and don't go home for Yom Tov. So we really do have an easy flight.

As I start preparing myself for the flight home, though, I can't help but feel...sad. I'm gonna be leaving. Yes, I'll be coming back, iy"H, but still- I'll be leaving the land of my forefathers. My land.

I'm transported to a hot, sticky summer day...

Its 4PM on a sweltering summer Tisha Ba'av afternoon. Hundreds of us 8-12 year old boys are gathered in the main Bais Medrash of the camp, which also serves as a rec room/auditorium. Our Learning Director, a Holy Jew with a long brown beard slightly sprinkled with flecks of white is standing in front of the Aron Hakodesh. We're all here to hear a little bit about Tisha Ba'av and the Churban Habayis. And there's no question about it, this is the Rabbi to give it.  A fire and brimstone type of guy, he'd have been at home in any Southern church, lecturing lava about the hazards of drink to a sleepy audience in a fly filled sanctuary.

As he thunders on to the mostly bored kids, I remember being mostly unimpressed, and far more interested in the Mario game I was secretly playing while pretending to pay rapt attention. And then, for some reason, his voice started breaking. And things began to get interesting.

He was speaking about Eretz Yisroel, and that fact that our aveiros brought about our Exile from it. Soon, he was telling us about a recent trip of his to our country. Tears were streaming down his face, soaking his long beard. My Mario forgotten, I was completely focused on the scene in front of me. This guy was real. Live. And then he said something I've never forgotten since. Describing a trip up north, he was saying; "As we traveled, we went through many Arab settlements and villages. All over, they were. And It's my land. Don't you see, it's MY LAND. My land". This last was a broken, screaming cry, almost desperate. As if he were begging us, little kids all, to help him, to understand and share in his pain. We all sat stunned. Quiet. Game Boys aside. And perhaps, just a little...

Ever since then, I've thought of Eretz Yisroel, in some ways, as my land. Not in a Tzioni, Rav Kook way (chas v'shalom), but in a nice, pareve type of way. Like this Rabbi, perhaps. And when I have to leave it, I feel like I'm parting with a something I own and love, without any contact until my next visit. No phone calls, pictures, or shmuessen. Because really, you need to be here to schmooze with the land. And even when you're here, most people don't know the language to be able to properly speak with our land. But if you do know the shprach, you can have the most wonderful conversations.

I'm reminded now of a story that took place in the Russian shtetl of old. A Jewish peasant was tilling the soil for his Russian nobleman; backbreaking labor. As he plowed and sowed the land he would frequently see his master in the fields. Bending over, the Russian would take a fistful of the soil, and let it slowly run through the cracks between his fingers. Then, he'd put his ear to the earth, and slowly, a beatific smile would spread across his face. After watching this scene play itself again and again over the years, the middle-aged Jewish farmer finally gathered the courage to ask his master what he was doing...what he heard when he'd put his ear to the ground. "Ah Yankel, I'm listening to the music. The music of the beloved Russian motherland."
Music?, thought the Jewish fellow wondrously. He too, put his ear to the ground, to listen and hear the music. The Russian nobleman began laughing uproariously at the Jew. "Yankel, don't you know- you'll never hear any music. It isn't your land".

Many years later, as the story goes, Yankel made aliyah. And now, when old man Yankel puts his ear earthward, he hears music. Ah, what music he hears.

Yes, I'll be going to America for Succos Bein Hazmanim.
But Boruch Hashem, I've heard the music. And although we won't be having any shmuessen, Eretz Yisroel and I, I'll be listening to the music. Once you've heard it, you see, it's always playing itself over in your a stunning symphony that you can't get of your head. And just when you think you're about to forget it, when the last strains are echoing away, you see some random sight on the street-  a Jewish vendor checking his fruits, or a meshulach in Shomer Shabbos, or even a few words of Ivrit- and the niggun crescendoes. And the nostalgia sets in again.

So goodbye, Eretz Yisroel. Arrivaderci, people of Israel. But although I go,
fear not...

The music plays on.

And finally, as the immortal MacArthur said,
"I shall return".

And IY"H, one day, we all will.

"V'Shavu Vanim Lig'Vulum."

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Thursday, September 24, 2009

Yerushalmi Kids at Play

Like the famous saying about Yerushalmi kids:

"When they're young, you want to eat them up. And when they get older, you regret you didn't".

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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Funny, Original, and Yeshivish (Sort of)

Check out this cool blog about some frum chevra's college experience's. Written very well by a set of four or five kids, I still can't believe it's authored by frum chevra.

Only problem is it hasn't been updated in a few months...Why???

Excerpt of latest post, titled "For Papa, Make Him a Scholar": (BTW, is that a Fiddler reference? My FOTR is weak, like the rest of my Shalom Aleichem).

"Suddenly Emma, in a reserved, Emma-like voice, pipes up. “Hey F5, you know…maybe you’ll think I’m crazy or something…but…ever since the first day of school, I was totally thinking that you and Joey would be perfect for one another!”
Having just taken a swig of orange juice from the carton I was holding, I struggle not to give my classmates a shower. A shadchan? Here?! And in the form of a Seventh Day Adventist from the West Indies, no less. Hashem bless my lucky stars…"...

and to read the rest of the post, continue on to Frum Meets World.

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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Tantz on Tuesday: Carlebach Kol Nidrei

Amazing recording of Carlebach's Kol Nidrei. No, I have no idea if this was actually recorded on Yom Kippur. Guess it isn't yotzei "tantz", but we'll be back to our regular programming next week, iy"H.

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Gan Sacher and IT

This might've been a stunning picture of the view of Gan Sacher from the Wolfson Villas, but then that disgusting building (known as the Knesset) got in the way. Oy vey.

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Plane Truth

     Walking down the cramped aisle, I relish the feeling of the unknown. I’m enjoying the experience of possibility. Of potential. No, I’m not about to get married. I’m headed overseas for a friend’s wedding. But for me, a plane ride holds all the promise and excitement that a fresh sketch pad holds for an artist. The pristine white paper, clean now…but what will it become? 
As I make my way down the interior of the narrow, people packed inside of the plane’s fuselage, I take a slow look around me, and I can feel it. I just know that this is going to be an interesting flight. I perform the customary, slow check of my flimsy ticket stub, all the while craning my neck up at the tiny numbers printed above the seats- its almost as if they don’t want you to find your seat. A polite flight attendant had informed me that my seat was the second to last on the right hand side of the plane, and I head down that way. Approaching my row (43), I realize that I am sitting smack in the middle of a bored looking Israeli and…an incredibly nervous looking seminary girl. Great. I can tell she’s cycling through all the potential survival scenarios she’s just been brainwashed with for the past year.
We exchange the quickest of understanding glances- we both know that there is absolutely no way we are sitting next to each other for any amount of time- and certainly not 12 hours. She goes her merry way, trying to arrange a seat change, while I motion for the assistance of the harried stewardess. “What can I do for you, dear?”, she asks me as she squeezes by on her way to the back of the plane. “Uh, we have a small problem here, ma’am”, I stutter. I outline the nature of our dilemma, and she assures me that she’ll do her very best to resolve the issue. Twenty minutes later of red-faced shuffling about in the narrow aisle, our issue is resolved- only two minutes before take off. An Israeli young man, obviously chiloni, non-religious, agrees (after the stewardess’ saccharine sweet smile) to switch places with the girl. Silently, we settle into our respective seats. Not knowing what’s going on in his mind, I can only tell you what’s in mine. I’m wondering if he wants to talk. He seems to be the quiet type, but as I’ve discovered over the years, the quiet types are often the ones who have the most to say. As Emerson said, “Who you are speaks so loudly I can’t hear what you’re saying”.
I decide to try and strike up a conversation. After only a few minutes, we are schmoozing like old friends. It turns out there is a mere one year age gap between us, and although I’m amazed at his maturity and level of sophistication (he’s been in the army- commanding a 12 man squad in Jenin), we find enough common ground in whatever shared heritage we do have to relate. Over the next few hours, we talk about everything. Life. Sports. Politics. And Religion…with a capital “R”. By the time we reach the “Holocaust and G-D Question” after two hours of intense theological ping-pong, the lady seated in front of us is tossing and turning. Finally, she politely requests us to keep it down. At somewhat of a crossroads in our discussion, we both agree to continue the schmooze in the morning.
In the meantime, I ponder the issues of faith he’s raised. I pray to Hashem that He place the right words into my mouth; that I should be able to answer him with both the proper “haskafah” as well as enough grace that he shouldn’t be put off by the daunting truth. He is a sincere fellow, and his time spent in the army has only served to enrich his sincerity. But more than that, he seems sincere about finding some sort of meaning to it all. Unfortunately, he doesn’t have all that much to be sincere about these days. His country is on the verge of war (again), his people have, as of late, started feeling their oats and in the process become lazy, and his land, while still technically a first world country, is, by his own admission, in many ways less civilized than most third world states.
When I meet up with such sincerity in non-religious folk, I am always overcome by dual emotions. How bittersweet it is, this sincerity; so much of the enduring core values of our people, and at the same time, completely without course, lacking any bearing whatsoever. I attempt to point this out to him by the way- I ask him in what way, if any, he feels connected to the Jewish people. Clearly, he identifies deeply with something - he’s already told me that he plans to spend his life in pursuit of the furtherance of his land and people. He doesn’t really have an answer to this question, basic though it is. And I can feel the pain, deep within him, as he tries to sort out his own position on this. “I don’t know what makes me Jewish, that is true. All I can say is, I feel something, some connection. I’ve been trying to, but still can’t define it.” I wish I could explain to him all about the “Pintele Yid”, about “Knesses Yisroel”. How his feelings, undefined for the whole of his young life, have been defined long ago by people far older than him. But the time is short and the labor long. I focus my energies elsewhere, hoping he’ll reach some stage of cognizance of the above idea autodidactally.
By the end of the flight, we’re fast friends. We exchange contact information, and share a cab ride to our mutual destinations. I insist on paying. Why? I’m not sure. Maybe because I’m determined on shattering the trogloditian, boorish, frugal stereotype that has become the image of Chareidi Jewry from the secular perspective. Perhaps it’s an inner desire to express my appreciation for all he’s done for us, for me, as a soldier. Or perhaps it’s simply one Jew insisting on doing a favor for another. I don’t know.
Like our conversation, the farewell is smooth. But also like our conversation, there is a roiling undercurrent of emotion, at least on my end.  As we agree to meet when he returns to Jerusalem as a student at Hebrew U, I feel like shouting at him “Fargest nisht, du bist a Yid”!  Instead, we shake hands, and bid each other joyful and peaceful summers.
All in all, I may have learnt a little about what it is to try and live a life with ideals so gray, and to chase dreams that aren’t, won’t be, and never were. Pure torture. “Al eilah anu bocheyu”. And I’ve discovered, perhaps, that there exists a strata of Israeli chiloni society who struggle with issues relevant to their very core being, in ways that I never will (G-d willing). Boruch Hashem. And I’ve found something beautiful in the simple knowledge that even today, with the laissez-faire attitude of the street, and worse,  it's over pervasiveness of self-interest, young Jewish men are still being raised with the desire to search for the truth, if nothing else.
Now, on my return flight to Israel, as I sit here attempting to find some perspective in all this, my seatmate isn’t nearly as exciting a conversation partner. A rheumatic dati leumi type, the 7 inch screen embedded in the seat in front of him holds far more fascination for him than little old me, and to be honest, the feeling is mutual.
But then again, perhaps I should engage him, schmooze with him a little. Like I said, the possibilities…

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Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Trail of 100 Tears

Below find a D'var Torah on Rosh Hashana. I don't normally publish Divrei Torah here, but l'kavod Rosh Hashana... I hope the below shtickel inspires you. It did me.
I would also like to take this opportunity to wish you, dear reader, and all of Klal Yisroel a K'sivah V'Chasima Tovah, and a gut gebenschte yur!

Hopefully, you'll be crying in just a few short hours. Crying and wailing like you've never cried before. Allow me to explain.
According to our sources, tears are more potent than actual tefillah (prayer). The Gemara(*1) says that although the gates of tefillah have been closed to us, the gates of tears never close.
Why? What about tears that make them so formidable as to have the ability to penetrate the heavenly gates where even prayer must stand back?
As we know, tears and the associated wails play a thematic role in the Rosh Hashana liturgy. The most prevalent one being, of course, the Shofar and its cries, or wails (or tears). In fact, the Gemara(*2) decides the specific kind and order of the tekios based on various definitions of word(s) meaning crying/wailing/moaning/etc. These tekios (according to the above Gemara(*2), are either to arouse tears, or are metaphysical wails themselves. As R' Shamshon Refoel Hirsch (*3) puts it; "Teruah makes you quiver, it softens you, it subdues you before G-d."
Come Rosh Hashana, we will all sit through the many- and dare I say it?- repetitious blowings. But how many do we actually blow? And more to the point, why so many: Why the repetitive blowing? This question is especially troubling when you consider that M'Doraysah, as per Shulchan Aruch/Tur(*4), only nine sounds are mandated? So why the hundred that we end up doing?
One of the reasons is a fascinating Tosfos(*19) who brings down an Aruch(*20), according to whom the reason we blow 100 "blowings" counteract or match the 100 moans of the mother of Sisrah.
The mother of Sisrah, you say thoughtfully...never heard of her, huh?
The Navi in Shoftim (*5/also know as Shiras Devorah) describes an wondrous battle that took place between this fellow, Sisrah, and the Jews living in the land of Eretz Yisroel at the time. It's also worthwhile to bring down the Midrash here(*6), which provides us with some spellbinding background on this Sisrah: Apparently, this Sisrah was no slouch. He was leading a force of four billion! men against the Jews. Prior to this, he'd conquered the entire world; all he had to do was roar, and walls would fall- literally. All this before the age of 30...Talk about a focused individual.
But back to the battle. This clash was of such gargantuan proportions that the heavens themselves(*7) were enlisted to join the fray. Can you imagine the stars fighting with each other? Of course, what this means, exactly, is not our subject...but in it's simple interpretation, stars really fought in this battle. The MHR"L explains that the stars were actually combating to preserve the very order of the world. Such was Sisrah's power and so dangerous was the potential outcome of this campaign of his.
Yes, it sound distinctly Lords of the Rings-ish, but it happened.
And this fellow Sisrah was the general of the guys fighting against us. A fearsome fellow, as described. But, as they say, everyone has a mother, and this guy had one too. Waiting at home for her little (or not so little) mamaleh to come home. With the booty of war, no doubt. The Navi describes the scene; this anxious old woman is peering out the window(*8), eagerly awaiting the return of her victorious son from the battlefield, yet again. Only this time, his return is assisted- by pallbearers. And when she beholds this sad sight (or before, when she realizes*21), she is moved to tears.
"...Va'T'Yavev Aim Sisrah", says the pasuk. The mother of Sisrah wailed(*8).
And not just any wails were these. These were one hundred tears so powerful that for some reason we are required to counter those tears with one hundred of our own wails (the cries of the shofar). And so we encounter this theme again; the power of the tear/wail.
Only this time, the cries are of a different nature; these are cries of a gentile, whom we know has considerably less kedusha than a Jew(*22), and as such, shouldn't have had such an effect on us Jews. And certainly not  enough to have us change the form of our Rosh Hashana service...right(*23)?
An easy out here could be in the nature of the relationship of a mother to her son: Just as Sisrah's mother had mercy on her son, a wicked fellow, so too we beg Hashem to have mercy on us, his wayward children(*9). But this avoids both the issue that she was a gentile, and it also avoids the whole wails matter; why bring the wails into the picture at all?
To solve this perplexing dilemma- this powerful puissance of these wails- we must examine an oft-quoted story that took place some two thousand years ago, plus change.
Yirmiyahu the Prophet(*10) was sitting and lamenting the destruction of the Bais HaMikdash (the Temple). As he sat, shedding his tears, Plato (some say Aristotle) came upon him. The Greek philosopher had joined the conquering forces on their trip to Jerusalem, and was now walking about. As he met with Yirmiyahu, he engaged him in discussion. After some time, he realized the Prophet's greatness. Surprised at Yirmiyahu's dirgeful weeping, he asked the Prophet; "Great and wise man, isn't it unbecoming for one as yourself to mourn mere wood and stones? And in addition, the Temple's destruction has already taken place. It is in the past. To what end do you weep now? Surely you agree that "crying over spilt milk" accomplishes nothing?"
Yirmiyahu replied "As a philospher, no doubt you have many questions concerning the world, etc. Ask". So Plato/Aristotle obliged. Upon which Yirmiyahu eloquently and succintly answered them all. To which the incrdulous Plato/Aristotle could only stutter back "From where does a human being acquire such knowledge"?
Yirmiyahu answered with the following. "As to your first question- there you have it. All of my knowledge is indeed not simply human- it is piped though those "sticks and stones", as you call them. As to your second question- why I cry over the past- you are not from the seed of Israel. As wise as you may be, you could never comprehend the answer".
And with that retort, our story ends.
But not our analysis of it. How are we supposed to understand this? Here sit two of the wisest living people in the world. Yirmiyahu and Plato/Aristotle. According to RMB"M(*11) Aristotle attained a degree of knowledge so great that it was only a grade less than the knowledge acquired by the Prophets themselves. Surely he could have understand the answer, whatever it was. And certainly when one considers that a Prophet himself would have been explaining it!
The answer to both our conundrums, -A) why we counteract the tears of this rasha's mother, a marsha'as herself(*24), and B) why Plato/Aristotle couldn't understand why we cry over the past, lies in the understanding of a fundamental dichotomy between the tears of a gentile and the tears of a Jew.
When a gentile (like Sisrah's mother) cries, he/she cries tears of despair. They bewail what was; and what will never be again. Sisrah's mother saw the hearse and her inner knowledge of her son's death finally crystallized. And she knew with utter clarity that it was all over- those tears were the reaction to this information. Reactionary tears evoked by complete and utter despair.
On the other hand, when a Jew, like Yirmiyahu cries, the tears are tears of completely different sort. True, they are tears of sadness at whatever loss is being expressed; but emotively speaking, within the tragic sentiment is another, far more powerful, perhaps even dominant emotion.
For the tears of a Jew can perform wonders. They are tears not of hopelessness, but of hope. They can "go places even prayer cannot". And they express the underlying conviction we all hold so dear- that Hashem will hear our prayer and tears. The Midrash tells us that Hashem lovingly tallies wach tear that his children shed, and He caches it in a flask. When the flask is finally full, Moshiach will come.
The Pasuk (*12) says that when Pharos' daughter, Basya, went down to the Nile to bathe/convert, she heard the cries of an infant in the water. And she knew the baby was a Jew-"...She said from the children of the Jews [he] is". How? She discerned in the infant's sobbing the note of hope, and not of despair(*13).
And because this is so, because our tears hold within them this force, Yirmiyahu cried. He sheds a tear at the recent loss of the Temple (*18) , but with that identical tear is crying to bring it back.
And we, too, cry.
We cry on Tisha Ba'av, we cry at times of loss, and we cry on Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur. And the call of the Shofar, a symbol of the Jewish cry or tear, illustrates the essential difference between our cries and their cries.
So hopefully, we will bemoan specific transgressions that we regret now. But even if not, we must cry. The Kotzker Rebbe's "there is nothing so whole as a broken heart" expresses this idea beautifully. We cry to gain favor in the eyes of a G-d who wants nothing more than for us to pass this Great Day of Judgement. But He must do so without compromising. So He waits for our guilt-ridden tears. And He hopes we will cry. Because with our tears, our tears of simultaneous regret and hope, we can pass judgement.

Rosh Hashana is more than just a Yom Din- a Day of Judgement. It is the beginning of our 10 Days or Repentance. Our yearly cycle of ten days given to us where Hashem makes it easier- and therefore expects- our Teshuva. He embraces it. As RMB"M(*14) puts it, "...and therefore, we blow...and it is almost as Rosh Hashana is the introduction to Yom Kippur". I would feel remiss if I didn't mention, too, the famous RMB"M(*15) that informs us that although Shofar is in fact something we don't really have an outright reason given for in the Torah, a hint is given in the pasuk which states "Awake, awake sleeping ones from your sleep, and end you slumber, slumbering ones". From the above RMB"Ms, it is  obvious that he considered the primary goal of the Shofar (aside, of course, from the actual mitzvah) to motivate ourselves and use the sound to perform Teshuva. (Also note that the RMB"M brings the above in Hilchos Teshuva, not Shofar- another telling sign of the primary goal here).
The Meiri(*16), too, explains that this time of year (R"H) is uniquely geared to motivate us to perform Teshuva...and he explains in dire detail the consequences not attempting to stir oneself to Teshuva.
But perhaps R' Yisroel Salanter(*17) put it most eloquently: "And at the very least, [one must] break his spirit [with a] broken heart. [For that is] the foundation for protection against this great hazard hovering [over us]".
So let us utilize this coming Rosh Hashana to cry, and wail. Let us cry like never before. And let us make sure to cry Jewish tears; tears not only of regret, but also tears of hope. In that zchus, may we successfully obtain favorable judgement in this Great Court Case we are about to enter into.
And Im Yirtzeh Hashem, we will be zocheh to be set on that final trail, that trail of the Geulah.

*Mareh Mekomos
B"M 59A; Ayin Maharam Shif (al hadaf) -The gates were closed when the Bais Hamikdash was destroyed.
Maseches Rosh Hashana (33B), "Genuchai ganoch/Yelulai yalil, etc.
Horeb, (Grunfeld Translation/Soncino Press) Chapter 32- The Shofar, 228.
Also see his fascinating explanation of the precise, unique
nature of the Tekiah, Teruah, and Shvorim (227, 231).
Shulchan Aruch/Tur, Orech Chaim, Siman 590, Seif Kattan 1.
Shoftim Perek 5:1-31
Yalkut Shimoni
Shoftim 5:20
Shoftim 5:28 "B'ad Hachalon Nishkafah, Va'Tyavev Aim Sisrah...etc." Also see Zohar beginning of Parsha Balak who explains the nature of this window.
As in "K'Rachem Av al Banim" etc. I forgot where I saw this p'shat.
Toras Ha'oloh (R"MA) Chelek 1:Perek 11, Seder Hadoros (Shanah 3300), and Shalsheles Hakabalah 101A/1- who changes to Aristotle for chronological reasons, etc. Also see the Hakdamah of Otzar Hamidrashim, Yirmiyahu.
Moreh Nevuchim (Chelek 2:)
Shmos 2:6
Ma'ayonos HaNetzach B'Shem R' Moshe Chaim of Slonim
Moreh Nevuchim (Chelek 3:43)
Yad Hachazakah Perek 3:Halacha 4
Bais Ha'Bchirah Maseches Rosh Hashana 16A
Igros 7B
Yirmiyahu 13/Chagigah 5. He actually shed three tears- one for the first Temple destroyed at the time, one for the Second Temple that was to be destroyed, and the third is a matter of debate. See the above Gemara.
Maseches Rosh Hashana (33B), Tosfos D"H "Shiur Teruah...". This idea is also referred to by the Zohar- R' Moshe Shapiro.
Aruch Erech "Erev". First listing. -This Aruch was the earliest source I was able to find inside. If anyone should happen to know of an earlier source, please let me know.
See the loshon in the pasuk (Shoftim 5:28) "...Madua Boshesh"- apparently, she realized even before his dead body arrived home that he had died from his delay in returning. Some compare this loshon to the same  (Shemos 32:1)"...Ki Boshesh Moshe Laredes Min Hahar" where Klal Yisroel doubts Moshe Rabeinu's return because of his apparent delay.
See RMCH"L and others who explain that a goy does not have a neshama.
True, the gemara in Megillah does bring down that Mordechai HaYehudi was made to cry out in anguish to "pay" for our forefather Yaakov Avinu having made Esav, his brother, cry out (Bereishis 27:34 "VaYitzak Tza'akah Gedolah U'Marah Ad Meod"). Here, however, Sisrah was killed only as a matter of life and death- there was no possible question of unfair play (although the Meforshim debate even this by Yaakov).
For who Sisrah was al pi sod, see: RC"V Sh"Hg, Hakdamah, 36 who brings down the A"Z. Also see the R"M M"P, E"M, Chikur Hadin 5:11 who discusses the nature of the "genealogy" of Sisrah and Sisrah's mother.
I sourced some of this material from R' Dovid Cohen's sefer "Ma'amarei HaRamchal. Also Afikei Mayim (Yomim Norayim) of R' Moshe Shapiro's ma'amarim. Also would like to thank the two anonymous individuals who helped me with some of the seed and supporting material. Yasher Koach.

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Tuesday, September 15, 2009


No, this isn't some Yeshiva Guy rendition of the Dean Martin song by the same name. Or even an article about me convincing some poor, lost soul to become Yeshivish. Nope, this post is a...poem. By me. Yup, if you're a fellow Yeshiva Guy, this isn't for you. And never bring this up again- I'd be that embarrassed about it.
If, on the other hand, you aren't a Yeshiva Bochur, by all means read the below terrible example of a Yeshiva Bochur's version of free verse- I know, it's form is a closer cousin to prose than poetry, but then again, if you were expecting dactylic hexameter you wouldn't be here. 
A word of background about the subject:
Typically, Yeshiva Bochurim, when either davening (praying) or learning Torah tend to "shockel" (Yiddish). Shockeling (verb of shockel) is a form of swaying back and forth, typically to a tune or to the famous niggun frequently employed when learning Gemara. Most cheder students ingrain this tune and the associated shockeling by osmosis before age eight or nine. For females, shockeling is less standard, although the extremely greased/yeshivishe ladies and Rebbetzins have been known to do so while in a particularly deep Shemona Esray. The below attempts to describe this scene or act.
I wish 
I could
Join them.
I watch 
Them. Endless rows
Of white shirts
On oak benches.
Wish I 
Could be
Together with 
Now, Booming debate
Thunderous resolution
By Rebbi.
And again, together
Jealous. Of
All the types.
Learning. Shteiging
But, I can
And now,
Finally. I 
Join them.
I. Am. 

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Tantz on Tuesday: Tasa and Lipa Alei Katan

I saw Avraham Fried performing this live at the Brichat HaSultan concert this past Bein Hazmanim and it was awesome. He brought the house down. Here, Tasa has a terrific rendition, with Lipa supporting. Audio isn't too great, but you get the idea. I wonder if anyone knows if Tasa has this recorded professionally anywhere?

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Monday, September 14, 2009

The Old Candy Man and The Old Candy Store

"Who can take tomorrow, dip it in a dream
Separate the sorrow and collect up all the cream
The Candy Man can, oh the Candy Man can
The Candy Man can 'cause he mixes it with love and makes the world taste good".

I used to wonder about the old man in the candy shop.

Really, the old man was the candy shop. He wore tattered greys and blues. The kind of garb you might find a typical blue collar laborer wearing. A long gray beard and a creased visage reminded me of the picture of the Steipler Gaon we had in our living room. And I used to wonder about him.

What does he do at night? Where did he come from? And with his coarse European accent, why did he decide to open up a candy shop in America- here in the heart of Flatbush, of all places? What was the secret behind this man who arose at 6AM every morning to open up the small candy shop that served a maximum of two customers in the smoggy gray unpicturesque Brooklyn mornings before sunrise. Sometimes, if I came early enough, I would catch him opening up the shop. An extended ordeal that was made only more torturous by his arthritic arms. And he'd carefully roll down the heavy steel gates that reminded me of the old man himself. Both clanking, monochromatic affairs that creaked at the joints. And then I would attempt to glorify him.

I would imagine him as the survivor of countless troubles and a miracle or two. Tales I made up to glamorize and romanticize the Old Candy Shop owner. And I would wonder why he didn't modernize his shop to catch up with the new, cleaner competitor's grocery that had opened up across the avenue. It always bothered me, that newer store across the street. And when Mommy gave me a dollar to buy a candy before yeshiva, I would defiantly make my way to the old man's store; my little contrinution to the slowing of the inexorable march of progress, and the eventual shuttering of the little candy store run by the old man.

I'd walk into the store, feeling like a patron saint of old, carefully choose the red package of Sour Sticks, and extend my small hand with the solitary dollar bill in it to the old man. And to match the excitement in my face- I was getting 20 whole sticks of that sour and sugary confection- he would painstakingly drawer the bill. Slowly he moved. So slowly. Once I told him that I was in a rush; that I was trying to catch the bus. "There will be another bus after this one", he said, also slowly. How many buses had he seen? For him, the endless parde of buses meant little. Or nothing. Why should they mean something, to this man who'd seen that other parade, that parade of trains.

And I used to wonder about him. Would I ever catch him smiling? I tried to make him smile, I did. In my own little way. I'd wish him "Good Morning" in the cheeriest voice I could muster in that dank, dark store. He'd pause, only for a moment, and look up from his sefer, but monosyllabic unidentifiable grunts were all I ever received in reply.

And then one day the old candy store with the tan plastic sun protectors was shuttered by the metal gates that normally only worked at night. And soon, I moved away to attend Yeshiva out of town. And when I came back, the store had been renovated; it was now home to a group of real estate offices for a franchise firm out of Jersey that I'd never heard of. The new grocery across the street was no longer the upstart; it was now being challenged by a themed emporium that sold fruits and vegetables and even candy: all organically hand grown, whatever that meant. The inexorable march of progress.

And the candy store was no more. And the old man of the candy store was no more.

And these days, I no longer wonder about the old man in the candy shop.

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Friday, September 11, 2009

Kiddie Movers

Right off of Kikar Shabbos...

They sure do grows 'em up fast here in the city...

Now who says that Chareidim aren't industrious?

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Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Chumra Machmirim: Chamra Chumra

So Rafi over at LifeinIsrael has a hilarious Chumra of the Month posted.
Definitely take a look, unless you have a something against side-splitting humor.

In which case simply read on for my hopelessly unfunny copycat (non)humor...

(Warning: If you aren't yeshivish or know Halachah or are familiar with Eretz Yisroel beers, move on- you won't get this).

According to Halachah, if one is lacking the sufficient amount of grape juice or wine required for Havdala, Kiddush, etc., one may be yotzei with "Chamra D'Medinah". This, loosely translated, means Coca-Cola. Or Pepsi. Or, as many poskim bring down, BEER. A favorite and oft used option resorted to by many Bochurim- hey, a guy's gotta make Havdalah, right?

So we were conducting such a Havdalah the other night, when some wiseguy decided we should be machmir on Chamra D'Medinah, and only use Maccabee beer. Get it- D'Medinah?

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Restaurant's Outdoor Stereo System

On the outdoor patio of an unnamed, (supposedly) high end Mehadrin restaurant in Yerushalayim.

Classy, guys. Real classy.

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Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Tantz on Tuesday: MBD's Kulam Ahuvim

This is MBD (Mordechai Ben David) performing the title track of his new CD, called Kulam Ahuvim.

The song only starts at 1:50 or thereabouts.

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Monday, September 07, 2009

Leil Shishi (Thursday Night): A.K.A. Party On

Thursday night. The mere mention of this date/time combo can and does have Bochurim everywhere drooling. The Yeshiva Bochur's single and only true vacation during the zman. Fridays don't count because, well, the oilam is poofing from the Thursday night extravaganzas. And even upon the eventual wakeup from that fitful slumber induced by pounds of pitzuchim plus the breweries of beer bottles consumed, one must prepare for Shabbos, etc. This leaves only Shabbos, which of course is no fun. Not that it isn't relaxing,kadosh, and all that, but it ain't fun. Motzei Shabbos is somewhat of a contender, but since Sunday is a regular day in the life of a Yeshiva Guy, not to mention Israelis in general, a self-imposed curfew is adhered to by most serious guys. Which leaves Thursday night.

So what is it, exactly, that we do on these vacation nights?

Before I continue, allow me to caution you, the dear reader, to pause for a moment and reflect before reading further. If your musag, your idea of Yeshiva Bochurim are rows and rows of white-shirt clad teenagers sitting in front of old, musty tomes and smoking up a storm whilst debating the intricacies of theGeonim of ages past, read no further. Not that the latter isn't true (especially the smoking part), but the fact of the matter is that everyone needs a breather. Bochurim have three. Bein Hazmanim (Succos, Pesach, and Summer), Bein Hasdorim (After davening, in between 1st and 2nd seder, and in between 2nd seder and night seder), and Thursday nights, which are a little of both.

And now, onwards and upwards delving into the mind of Bochurim. A final word of caution. It can be a dangerous place to spend too much time in, so if you are reading this and aren't a bochur, caveat lector.

We are highly pressured individuals. This is a fact. For those who have never personally experienced the Yeshiva world, try to imagine the intellectual rigors of Advanced-whatever college subject you studied, magnified tenfold. Then delete whatever activities you used to kick back and relax, be it sports, clubbing, or even reading a novel or two. Such delights are by and large forbidden to us, with good reason, and we require other forms of relaxation. Enter Thursday nights.

Your average bochur returns to the dira between 11-2 on a Thursday evening. Depending on what time he ended night seder, there may or may not be a cholent place still open. Options range from the reigning king of cholent, Deitsch in Meah Shearim, to Nehadar off of Malchei Yisroel, or other assorted grease joints that offer their own semi-homemade pots of the stuff for sale exclusively on Thursday nights. Alternatively, for the hard up among us, or those connoisseurs who simply can't stand the oil filled pots sold in Yerushalayim and prefer their own oil filled crock pots full of the toxic batter/brew, there is the homemade option. Which of course has bochurim the world over in an uproar over the pots that inevitably don't get cleaned for months on end...

(Have you ever seen leftover cholent that has been left to its own devices for a half year? I have. It isn't a pretty sight. Except to the petri-scientists worries about the potential extinction of fungus. And even they cringe, or so I'm told.)

So typically, we kick back with a cholent, or whatever other form of sustenance is available to us, and we'll swig a swallow of beer (or two, or three) and schmooze. That's it. Just schmooze. About everything and nothing. You know those intelligent fellows you meet up who shock you with their "worldliness"? Yup. It all comes from those Thursday night b**l sessions. Long, intense, and wide-ranging, there are almost no limits as to the topics they can cover. I've schmoozed with , or heard guys schmoozing about, on one random occasion or another, the following diverse concerns:

Quantum physics, cooking/recipes, nanotechnology, Mayan anthropology, genetics, secular authors like Grisham and others, solar physics, Chinese politics, and other such sundry subjects.

As mentioned above, liberal amounts of beer or other light alcoholic beverages are consumed, as well as cigarettes by the carton. Marlboro Lites are the preferred cancer stick of choice, although the more hard-core among us may prefer Reds at times. The story goes that the Rabbonim of a number of Yeshiva's were planning on banding together to levy a ban against these Leil Shishi parties. Supposedly, the execs at Phillip Morris caught wind of the plan, and donated a new wing to BMG (Lakewood) under an assumed name- (Rachein Vaiter)- and to this day you can find that name on the "In Memoriam" plaque in Yoshon (the old Beis Medrash in Lakewood).

And so the next time you find yourself in the embarrassing position of losing a debate to a Yeshiva Guy in a secular subject, simply challenge his source for his argument/data. And watch him cave like a dira of cards, and thank The Yeshiva Guy inside.

And so until next Thursday night, it's me, your loyal Yeshiva Guy, bringing you the inside scoop of everything Yeshivish. Stay holy brothers!

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Sunday, September 06, 2009

Der Zeger Yid (The Watch Jew)

"The Time is...Now".

Ever meet one of Yerushalayim's holiest people? No, I don't mean the tzaddikim, gedolim, Rebbes, or any of the other immediate options that come to mind when thinking of Yerushalayim's kedoshim.

I mean the beggars, indigents, and other denizens of Yerushalayim's streets. These people roam the streets of Yerushalayim, going unnoticed, but providing all of us with daily opportunities at bettering ourselves.

Just this Shabbos, I had such an encounter of the first degree. Walking down Malchei Yisroel late Friday night, I observed the beggar whom I call "Zeger Yid" sitting at his usual Friday night post- on the green bench near the corner of Rechov Yosef ben Matisyahu. He was occupied with his usual activity- asking the varied passerby the same question, every five minutes or so. "Ir hut de zeger"? In English, that is "Do you have the time"? This innocuous question, framed by a grunt or two, somehow scares off most people, and they continue on past. A select few do pause, roll up their sleeve, and humor our Yid with an answer.

On this Shabbos evening, the weather was nice. I wasn't in any particular hurry, and decided to give this Yid a little time. So after walking directly up to his bench, I bravely sat myself down to his right. Silently, we both stared at the foot traffic for a minute or so. Then, in what must have been a first for him, I asked him; "Reb Yid, hust de zeger"? (Do you have the time"?). He answered me with a sidelong glance and a monosyllabic "Elef a'zeger" (Eleven O'clock).

A few minutes more of watching the passing people and I ventured a "Nu, vos is naies"? (Nu, what's news?). He grumbles an indecipherable something in answer. Oh much for the pearls of Torah I was hoping to hear from my Tzaddik Nistar. And then he surprises me. And there's a funny thing about this- you'd think I'd have acquired some sort of immune system that would protect me from being surprised by our people, our Yidden. But no- I haven't, or at least not as of yet.

He surprises me by requesting of me "Zug mir Tatzliach" (Wish me Success). The first time he said it in his unclear, hard to understand Yiddish I had to ask him to repeat himself. He did, and the second time around I understood him. He was asking me! to give him a brachah. I half whispered "Tatzliach", and looked away. But our holy beggar didn't give up. Again, he asked me "Zug mir Zeit Gezunt" (Tell me to Be Well). So again, I bentched him. And got up to leave before I got another request, the next one proving more difficult then the first two.

Of course, as I turned to take leave of this holy Jew, you know what I did, right?

I asked him..."Zug mir Tatzliach". And he did. And who knows- maybe I will be, but no doubt at the right time...after all, the brachah came from the beggar who should know all about timing.

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Poetry from On High...

...well, not really. But this is an amazing poem from "The Curious Jew".

I know what you're thinking. The Yeshiva Guy posting poetry? And I sort of agree with you-
its a little, OK a lot, sappy. But what should I do. Its an amazing poem. Cool, too.

It reminds me of Abie Rotenberg's "Little Kite" from Journeys II. Sadly, Blip/Youtube don't seem to have anything for this, so I can't give you a link for the song, other than this link where you can hear short preview of the song, or download the album for $12. To hear the preview, scroll down and click on the Little Kite song play button.

And now a selection from the poem; to read the piece in it's entirety, click this to go "The Curious Jew"s blog post called "Goodbye".

“Goodbye,” she said to her balloon.
“I hope you travel to the moon.
I hope that you are happy lots
and visit God and lightbulb watts.
I hope you have a great adventure,
untouched by any public censure.
I hope for you, my dear balloon;
I hope you travel to the moon."


But balloons were made for flight
and she was made for star-filled nights
with fire-flies that buzzed about
and glittered beyond any doubt.


She turned once more to the golden sky
unto which her balloon did fly.
“God,” she said, “take care of him.
Please see he doesn’t sink, but swims.
Please shower him with eternal grace;
and the light of Your shining face.
Watch over him ‘cause I’m not there
and I don’t want him to be scared.”

She put a brave smile on her face
and crying, turned to leave the place
where she said goodbye to her balloon
so he could travel to the moon.

...And to find out the rest of the poem and what happened to the balloon on his journey, you'll need to go to the original poster's site.

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Saturday, September 05, 2009

Breslover Na Nachs at Kikar Tzion

A random movie of Breslover Na Nachs and random Israeli chevra dancing to MBD's Anachnu Ma'aminim.

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Motzei Shabbos Funnies

Clearly, I've reached a new plateau in my Internet surfing habits. Until fairly recently, I had to judge the relative taste of a blogger/internet site by its content. Now, however, all I need to do is simply read my referring links page. A slightly addictive habit, I might add. Anyway, one of the sites sending me visits these days is Just Stam, a blogger of excellent taste, particularly as he calls my blog "great". So while checking out JS' blog, I came across this excellent list of...well, funny "Hmmm...s". (Below version slightly edited for the sake of nekiyus).

-More often than not, when someone is telling me a story all I can think about is that I can't wait for them to finish so that I can tell my own story that's not only better, but also more directly involves me.

-Nothing stinks more than that moment during an argument when you realize you're wrong.

-I don't understand the purpose of the line, "I don't need to drink to have fun." Great, no one does. But why start a fire with flint and sticks when they've invented the lighter?

-Have you ever been walking down the street and realized that you're going in the complete opposite direction of where you are supposed to be going? But instead of just turning a 180 and walking back in the direction from which you came, you have to first do something like check your watch or phone or make a grand arm gesture and mutter to yourself to ensure that no one in the surrounding area thinks you're completely nuts by randomly switching directions on the sidewalk.

-I totally take back all those times I didn't want to nap when I was younger.

-The letters T and G are very close to each other on a keyboard. This recently became all too apparent to me and consequently I will never be ending a work email with the phrase "Regards" again.

-Is it just me, or are 80% of the people in the "people you may know" feature on Facebook people that I do know, but I deliberately choose not to be friends with?

-Do you remember when you were a kid, playing Nintendo and it wouldn't work? You take the cartridge out, blow in it and that would magically fix the problem. Every kid in America did that, but how did we all know how to fix the problem? There was no internet or message boards or FAQ's. We just figured it out. Today's kids are soft.

-There is a great need for sarcasm font.

-Sometimes, I'll watch a movie that I watched when I was younger and suddenly realize I had no idea what the heck was going on when I first saw it. I think everyone has a movie that they love so much, it actually becomes stressful to watch it with other people. I'll end up wasting 90 minutes shiftily glancing around to confirm that everyone's laughing at the right parts, then making sure I laugh just a little bit harder (and a millisecond earlier) to prove that I'm still the only one who really, really gets it.

-How the heck are you supposed to fold a fitted sheet?

-I would rather try to carry 10 plastic grocery bags in each hand than take 2 trips to bring my groceries in.

-I think part of a best friend's job should be to immediately clear your computer's Internet history if you die.

-The only time I look forward to a red light is when I'm trying to finish a text.

-A recent study has shown that playing beer pong contributes to the spread of mono and the flu. Yeah, if you're bad at it.

-Was learning cursive really necessary?

-"Lol" has gone from meaning, "laugh out loud" to "I have nothing else to say".

-I have a hard time deciphering the fine line between boredom and hunger.

-Whenever someone says "I'm not book smart, but I'm street smart", all I hear is "I'm not real smart, but I'm imaginary smart".

-How many times is it appropriate to say "What?" before you just nod and smile because you still didn't hear what they said?

-I love the sense of camaraderie when an entire line of cars teams up to prevent a jerk from cutting in at the front. Stay strong, brothers!

-Every time I have to spell a word over the phone using 'as in' examples, I will undoubtedly draw a blank and sound like a complete idiot. Today I had to spell my boss's last name to an attorney and said "Yes that's G as in...(10 second lapse)..ummm...Goonies"

-What would happen if I hired two private investigators to follow
each other?

-While driving yesterday I saw a banana peel in the road and instinctively swerved to avoid it...thanks Mario Kart.

-MapQuest really needs to start their directions on #5. Pretty sure I know how to get out of my neighborhood.

-Obituaries would be a lot more interesting if they told you how the person died.

-I find it hard to believe there are actually people who get in the shower first and THEN turn on the water.

-I can't remember the last time I wasn't at least kind of tired.

-Bad decisions make good stories.

-Why is it that during an ice-breaker, when the whole room has to go around and say their name and where they are from, I get so incredibly nervous?Like I know my name, I know where I'm from, this shouldn't be a problem....

-You never know when it will strike, but there comes a moment at work when you've made up your mind that you just aren't doing anything productive for the rest of the day.

-Can we all just agree to ignore whatever comes after DVDs? I don't want to have to restart my collection.

-There's no worse feeling than that millisecond you're sure you are going to die after leaning your chair back a little too far.

-I'm always slightly terrified when I exit out of Word and it asks me if I want to save any changes to my ten page research paper that I swear I did not make any changes to.

-"Do not machine wash or tumble dry" means I will never wash this ever.

-I hate being the one with the remote in a room full of people watching TV.There's so much pressure. 'I love this show, but will they judge me if I keep it on? I bet everyone is wishing we weren't watching this. It's only a matter of time before they all get up and leave the room. Will we still be friends after this?'

-While watching the Olympics, I find myself cheering equally for China and USA. No, I am not of Chinese descent, but I am fairly certain that when Chinese athletes don't win, they are executed.

-I hate when I just miss a call by the last ring (Hello? Hello? Darnit!), but when I immediately call back, it rings nine times and goes to voicemail. What'd you do after I didn't answer? Drop the phone and runaway?

-I hate leaving my house confident and looking good and then not seeing anyone of importance the entire day. What a waste.

-I like all of the music in my iTunes, except when it's on shuffle, then I like about one in every fifteen songs in my iTunes.

-As a driver I hate pedestrians, and as a pedestrian I hate drivers, but no matter what the mode of transportation, I always hate cyclists.

-Sometimes I'll look down at my watch 3 consecutive times and still not know what time it is.

-I keep some people's phone numbers in my phone just so I know not to answer when they call.

-Even if I knew your social security number, I wouldn't know what do to with it.

-It really ticks me off when I want to read a story on and the link takes me to a video instead of text.

-I wonder if cops ever get ticked off at the fact that everyone they drive behind obeys the speed limit.

-I think the freezer deserves a light as well.

-The other night I ordered takeout, and when I looked in the bag, saw they had included four sets of plastic silverware. In other words, someone at the restaurant packed my order, took a second to think about it, and then estimated that there must be at least four people eating to require such a large amount of food. Too bad I was eating by myself. There's nothing like being made to feel like a fat dude before dinner.

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Thursday, September 03, 2009

The Ultimate Shiur

Check out this choshuve Maggid Shiur giving shiur... that's lomdish.

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An Open Letter to Seminary Girls

In a tradition dating back to the opening of the doors of the first seminary way back when in the fifties, the second week of Elul is host to an ingathering of exiles, so to speak. I refer to the yearly migration of that nasty, vile creature colloquially known as the Sem Girl. Otherwise known as our holy seminary sisters. Yes, every year around this time they invade Geulah. They take Malchei Yisroel and transform it from the once sleepy Yerushlayamer shopping and food center it was into a yearlong virtual sleepover.

Somehow, the Ribono Shel Olam has seen fit to force us, Yeshiva Guys, and them to co-exist in the same space. And like many other things in life, this is something I don't understand; yet I accept it. But I do have some things I want to get off of my chest...

Every year, us Yeshiva Guys moan and groan about these issues. We go on the same diatribes, vent recurrently to ourselves, and wish things were different. Well, this year I'm determined to change all that. So below find some of the many things that you do to tick us off- kindly take note, and refrain from doing so.


-Talk loudly on your pelephones about nothing. If you must do so, at least make sure to slowly and clearly, enunciating every syllable, list off your fathers' bank accounts so I, too, can enjoy unlimited cakes from Moishy's Bakery.

-Wear Crocs in public. This is NOT cool, and does not fit in with the Bas Melech image your teachers will be attempting to brainwash into you over the next year.

-Daven mincha on the street because shkiah "just...happened" and you have no place to daven. Either watch your watch, like we do, or don't daven. As much as it may pain you to learn this, females ARE NOT BOUND BY TIME-RELATED COMMANDMENTS!

-Loudly barter with the shopkeeper as if he were deaf in your Americanized Harry-ess Ivrit that you think you're proficient in. You're not. Either learn and speak the language with the local accent, or stick with the English you don't know. Trust me, the locals understand your English better than your Ivrit.

-Feel the need to litter the entire Yerushalayim with the yellow/purple/clear plastic/paper cups that you just got from Fro-Yo or Sams or Mitzei Uri. It's nice that you enjoy them, and it's wonderful that you're supporting local merchants and all, but really, what about recycling?

-Rave about Rabbi Orlofsky's shiur last night that is definitely, positively, OMG OMG gonna change your life. We all know it won't. And if really was such a life changer, you wouldn't still be sipping that Mitz Pri as you stroll down Yechezkel. Only dogs eat/drink in the street. Not people. Or even sem girls.

-Feel like you have to go to the Machlis', the Blind Couple, and every other chavayah during your stay here. You can still be Jewish without going to those people. I know, because I still am. I think.

-Use the default ringer on your Disposa-phone that came with your seminary's suggested student plan. Hashem gave you kids all that creativity and individuality to be able to create all those plays and singa-thons and dances and whatever. Express it. If I hear that la-di-dah-di-dah one more time I may just...

-Feel obligated to take over Sams Bagels between 1-4 every afternoon. How about just ordering your food and taking it back to your dorm, huh? I'll arrange for the teenaged Israeli shibob with the knockoff UnderArmour spray shirt to give you an oversized bag so everyone will know you went...M'kay?

-Be scared to take Arab taxis. Your seminary Giveret is bluffing you. The story about the girls who took one once and...yeah. It never happened. Sorry, I know Israel is much more exciting that way, but...

-Buy leather-bound Tehillims/Siddurim for all of your cousins/aunts/uncles. That creativity thing? Again, demonstrate.

-And finally,under NO circumstances are you to enter Pitzuchei Moshiach. PM is a male-only establishment. Aside from the narrow aisle issue, PM is just...well...sacred. Don't defile it. Go to any one of the other fine nut houses.

So welcome to our town. Geulah is our turf. You can have Har Nof, Sortozkin, MInchas Yitzchak, Ramat Eshkol, and the other shchunos. But Geulah is our turf. We own it.

And the truth is, you aren't welcome. So adios, and seeya back in America.

Not until Shidduchim, though...hopefully.

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