Monday, July 31, 2006

Tisha B'av

So so far from home
Home I’ve never known
Yet, I know it so
So well
That when I turn myself
Right side out, outside in
I’m right inside
Where I’ve sighed
Lonely sighs
the Size
Of all that there is
Because you see
All that was, is and will be
Is home
And on this hot and lonely day
With everyone out to play
I can turn
And learn
To find my way home
Where I find her
Every year
Waiting for me

On the floor


I take my place
Inside her space
And unite
or because of
The fact that, once more
Only one door
Will find it’s way
To her home
Mine alone

But this year feels
More intense, feels
As if somehow
We just know
That this is it
our last special time
United in grief...
In pure blind belief

But even when the joy
Comes undone
And everything becomes one
And the doors open wide
And all the world at last
Turns right side in
And comes home

I’ll still have my special place
Right here
Beside her



Sunday, July 30, 2006

Trapped Once Again

There is a well known Holocaust anecdote that has a Jewish prisoner standing up to his Nazi superior stating that he thanks god every day that he is the victim and not the perpetrator..
that he is the one getting killed and not the one killing.

The State of Israel is in a situation worse than Auschwitz.

It’s surrounded by barbed wire and watchtowers.
Getting picked off by sadist guards.
And it’s also perpetrating the death of women and children.
And causing grief.

Kol Rodfeyha Hisigiyha Bein Hametzorim
All her enemies will trap her between the fences...

Moral fences are more lethal than electric barbed wire


The body doesn’t like getting killed
The soul doesn’t like killing
We have been blessed and cursed with an overactive soul

Quite possibly the worst exile we’ve ever been in..


Friday, July 28, 2006


A Vision
Of all the types of prophecies..the vision is the most difficult and painful.
The gap between knowing and seeing is immeasurable.
A father gives a Rebbe permission to punish his child..even if he knows it’s good for the child, if he’s present..he might tell the Rebbe to stop. It’s difficult to see.
There was once a terrible decree on the Jews of the Ukraine some 270 years ago.
The Ba’al Shem Tov called together all the townsfolk to prayer...after hours of wailing, sobbing and fervent prayer the Ba’al Shem sent everyone home announcing that the decree had been annulled.
He was annulled because one simple little argument by a simple peasant woman.
She looked around and turned to God in amazement...and said..”I don’t know what’s going on and what your plan is..but I’m a mother..I have children..and when I see my children wailing like this..I stop whatever it is that’s causing it..
How can you ignore the anguish of your children??”
We know..there’s a master plan..
We know..there’s a reason for everything..
Look your children terrified..confused
At those cowering in bomb shelters..
At those languishing in cancer wards..
At those children sobbing at funerals..
At those struggling in a spiritual wasteland..
Your will and desire are greater than your reason..

According to the Zohar, every month corresponds to a different body part..Tammuz and Av are the 2 eyes.
The sufferings we have endured over the years in these two months are deep and painful.
The redemption will come when Hashem sees our suffering as a Father sees his childs suffering with his own 2 eyes.
Perhaps we should act on fulfilling the child part of the deal...and act like his children.

The motif underlying this post is based on a vort in the Sefer Aish the Pieseczne Rebbe. After the war, a milk jug full of transcripts was found under the rubble of the Warsaw Ghetto by a Polish contained the speeches and Divrei Torah that the Rebbe told his Chassidim in the ghetto over a period of 3 years. This idea was the last one recorded. The Rebbe perished in Treblinka Hy'd


Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Nine Days - Nine Notes

The Nine Days...they’re uncomfortable days.
Stubble..cold days
This is how it’s been for thousands of years
And this is exactly how I remember it from my younger years

But the last few years have brought a sudden new
Un-comfort to the already uncomfortable Jew
It comes in the form of roughly 15 male voices singing
Singing roughly 10 different harmonies while banging
Imaginary drums on their teeth and their tongues
Straining my nerves..along with their lungs..

So while I’ve gotten used to no meat and the occasional odorous fella

I just can’t seem to get used to..what’s called (tongue in cheek)...acapella

Monday, July 24, 2006

Runaway Train

Awake in panic

This train is goin nowhere
What am I doing here?
No control..
out the window
Mile after mile
Field after field
Town after town
Whoooshing by
In a blurrr
A passenger to hell
What the hell?
How did I get here?
Did I pay this fare?

Not a look of concern
To be discerned
In the eyes of
Those dining
Those reclining

Feeling of panic

Head out the window
Screaming into the empty
Endless outside

The only sound
In this speeding world
Of present past and future

Looking for a reason
For this unending season
Where am I??
Who am I?
Where are we going?

Running a blur line
Car after car
Gazing into every
face I encounter
faces of death
Chased by the shadows
Of those dining
Those reclining

Must grab cOntrOl
Of this runaway train
This insane
Ride to nowhere

Wrestling away

I will stop this
Train to nowhere
In the next town
And get down
Seek answers
And make an attempt
Ignore the contempt
Of those dining
Reclining no more

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Thursday, July 20, 2006


Peace is when everything fits into place.
Everything, everyone belongs.
Has a role.
Plays their role.
Its what the world is moving toward.

It can come 1 of 2 ways.
Either from the top down..or from the bottom up.
The world emanates from God...and expands..
The closer to God..the greater impact on everything underneath..the world.
If someone wants to give his room a blue hue..appearance..they can place a small blue plastic over the light..the source..if they're close to the source...coloring the entire room at once.
Peace between God and his People would automatically bring peace to everything else...
Peace between Husband and Wife...the relationship so close to God...
Peace between fellow Jews
Peace between all humans
Trickle down...and bring the world perfection.
Let’s do our part.
We are pretty close to the source.

On Mondays and Thursdays we say a series of Tefillos after we read the Torah praying for our wellbeing..
All these Tefillos begind with “Yehi Ratzon...” May it be your will...etc..except for the last one which talks about Jews in trouble, in which we plead that they go from darkness to light from trouble to redemption.
The first Belzer Rebbe explains why...
This Tefilla starts with “Acheinu Kol Beis Yisroel” We are all brothers and teach us that if we’re Brothers and Sisters and we truly feel that way..then we won’t have to beseech God with..”May it be your will”..

Hashem will help us in the merit of Achdus, Unity..and Peace.


Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Just do it..and go to sleep

In 1881 a brilliant Russian writer penned a story that to me is absolutely brilliant. It puts you in the mindset of someone commiting a horrific a way that makes you understand it and almost condone it.
You must read the story before continuing and commenting (yes thats an

Sleepy. By Anton Chekhov
When you're done..continue below.

This is such a phenomenal story. It really gets to the heart of absolute and relative morality.

The logic is so simple
It’s breathtaking.
Kill the baby and all her troubles vanish.

To me this gets to the root of why and how we sin.
A sin seems like a huge wall an insurmountable barrier made up of a mixture of God, taboo, fear of retribution and other factors.
But once the temptations start mounting the whispers in your head increase and push you closer and closer to that wall until you see it’s really a mirage.

There’s no wall there.

You can do the deed and vanquish the whispering voices.
Which is why it’s best to keep your distance because once you realize that there’s no wall there, it becomes easier and easier to cross over.


Sunday, July 16, 2006

Haven't we been here before?

2300 Years later...we’re still battling Greek Culture on the streets of Jerusalem

500 Years later...we’re still resisting Christian attempts to convert us

2000 Years later...we’re still not cutting our hair and listening to music

60 Years later...we’re still running into bomb shelters

3300 Years later...our children are still covering their eyes and saying Sh’ma Yisroel...God is One.

Is there really a past, present and future to our History?

I'm not going to pretend I know the answers.
I'm not going to say what anyone should or should not do.
If there's anything that History has taught's that man's ability to will things his way usually falls short.
But I take solace in the fact that I feel like I'm part of something BIG.
Something endless.
When I read Parshas Devarim I feel like it was written yesterday.
When I delve into Jewish History I'm awestruck at this sense of belonging to a present that is one with the past and future.
And I pray that God finally reveal to us the endgame of all this...



Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Shifty Eyes

Shifty eyes are a sign of an unsettled and insecure soul.
-Josef Stalin's not every day..that I quote Stalin. But this quote happens to be on the mark.

Imagine if we rewind our life and watch from the beginning.
Imagine if we could split what we see in two.
What we see with a straightforward gaze.
What we see from the corners of our eyes.
In your gaze you’d see your children/Out of the corner of your eye you’d see your new message on your Blackberry
In your gaze you’d see your Siddur/Out of the corner of your eyes you’d see who’s coming in so late
In your gaze you’d see your spouse/Out of the corner of your eyes you’d see your neighbors spouse
In your gaze you’d see out the window of the bus/Out of the corner of your eyes you’d see the new gadget of the guy across the aisle from you
In your gaze you’d see the check you’re about to give to Tzedaka/Out of the corner of your eyes you’d see what the next guy is giving
In your gaze you’d enjoy your home and garden/Out of the corner of your eyes you’d see your neighbors new car

I’ve noticed oftentimes while driving that I can drive many miles entirely in my peripheral vision without focusing on the road before me.
Is it possible to live life like that?
To be so busy living in the periphery? That you just notice the road before you enough not to crash?
Why is it so hard to be grounded?
To allow your eyes to hold a gaze to feel a sense of place and time.
To be rooted in a moment.
Do you ever talk to someone and they’re just not there? Looking past you. Thinking about the next thing. Looking at the next person.
Hold a gaze
Look your life in the eye
Let the moment embrace you
Only I could live MY life..and I cannot live anyone else’s.

Even as I’m writing this..I could feel at least 4 pairs of peripheral eyes straining to peek..

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Friday, July 07, 2006


Trust is Blind
Love is Blind
Closes your eyes
Your mind

Sends you gliding
Warm hand guiding
you Into a zone
Of Never Alone

But the blind are
So vulnerable, are
So easy to hit
So betrayal hits
so deep, and spits
In the face of our
Dignity, our
Ability to
Trust, to

It opens our eyes
Yet leaves us in the dark


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Talmid asked me last Friday to write something on here it is.

Shemonah Esrei to me is an emotional roller coaster when I’m clicking on all cylinders.
It’s always a struggle to plug into that connection between man and God and man and himself.

These days we don’t get many opportunities Thank God to be martyrs to throw ourselves on the pyres in the greatest act of submission.

Shemonah Esrei I find to be an extraordinarily difficult act of martyrdom.

The beginning forges the connection..
Avos introduces my credentials as a son of our forefathers and Israel.
Gevuros instills in me the awesome power of God and his rehabilitating power.
Kedusha helps me plug into a holiness even though by definition it’s so removed from me.

Then my needs and wants come pouring out..
Personal redemption
Recovery and avoidance of all illness
The needs of the community..
Protect our righteous
Rebuild Jerusalem
The climax of these requests is Shma Koleinu..where one is encouraged to talk to God in his/her own language. In to God one on one all that weighs on my heart and deepest needs.
Just when my heart is intensely pouring out to Him my needs..

I bow down and say

Modim anachanu loch...
I martyr to him my wants and acknowledge how clueless I am to what I really need.
Al chayeinu hamesurim b’yadecha...our lives that are given into your hands...I submit fully to your Master Plan...
Give me a part..and let me appreciate it..

If all these emotions click (which doesn’t happen often enough) then I relax...and say
Sim Shalom...I reach a state of peace of mind..that can only come from a moment of Martyrdom..of submission to something infinitely greater.

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Wednesday, July 05, 2006

When Daddy was young....

One part of me does not want to believe the conversation I’m having with my son.
It all began when a song from 613 Torah Avenue came on the radio and I casually mentioned that “when I was your age” I used to love this record.
“Ta..what’s a record..?”
“It was this big round black vinyl thing..sort of like a CD just 3 times the size..and we’d place it onto this rotating wheel and take a needle which was protruding down from a long arm which was perched on the side and as it’s turning place the arm with the needle onto the turning record and you’d hearing this scratchy music from the speaker..”
I’m all of 30 yet I feel like I’m from another era. What happened?
I used to be the young one..the one listening to Zeidies tales. Generation X.
Yet I look back and am amazed at how much the world has changed since I was a kid.
While everyone is going to the country and their summer homes I fondly recall our tiny bungalow.
I can say..I remember the bungalow colony had all of 2 telephones!
Yes kinderlach your Bobby, who today cannot be seen without her cellphone/blackberry/bluetooth went 2 months a year with no phone, not by radiowave not by landline.
And yes she’d write her name on a list to use the laundry room.
And there was no air conditioning and the hot water was gone by 3PM Friday afternoon.
And we’d sit and enjoy our Shabbos meal under a big yellow sticky paper full of dead flies.
Ahhh we had so much fun.

Is this me talking?
Am I really from another era?

And after riveting them with tales of the old world I said ok..since you’re all so good you each get a Foxy Pop.

“Ta...what’s a Foxy Pop?”


Monday, July 03, 2006

Jack Abramoff, Boro Park riots and July 4th. Why America is different

Happy Independence Day.
How fortunate we are to have a place in the world where we can flourish and prosper.
Millions of Jews call America home and have for hundreds of years.
What makes America different?

People ask, Is it possible for something like the Holocaust to happen here?

Now, with God running the world anything is possible. However I’d like to analyze it from a Derech Hateva (natural) approach.
We know the well know Midrash that it’s inevitable that Esav will hate Yakov. However there’s a big leap between disliking someone and acting on it. Lyndon Johnson once said “Everyone hates the Jews, the anti-semite hates them more than is necessary”.

There are a few factors that make America unique.
A. The constitution and system of checks and balances. R’ Chaim of Volozin was shown the Constitution when it was written and he commented that the authors had Ruach Hakodesh while writing it.
(He also said that America will be the last stop before Moshiach comes.)
B. The fact that America is a melting pot. Jews are used to living in countries dominated by one nationality. Germany, Poland..etc. Anti-semitism is often times an outcome of fierce Nationalism which simply doesn’t exist here. Whites, Blacks, Latinos and Asians are all looking out for themselves while defining their joint Nationalistic experience as Americans. Certainly not the ideal situation for Anti-semitism to flourish.
C. My Grandfather, who lived through many of the horrors of the last century would always tell me Americans as a rule are good people. Americans by nature and nurture are just better hearted people. They’re more compassionate and quicker to help with charity.
D. There is no deep rooted history of violent persecution here. In Europe, even in the “good” years you were never more than 20 years removed from a despotic autocrat, a Dreyfus Affair, a pogrom and a coup. There simply was no precedent for treating Jews kindly.

In the past few months the news has been full of the corrupt dealings of an Orthodox Jew Jack Abramoff. Here is one Jew, pretty much controlling half of Congress with his dirty money. America watches as a parade of disgraced gentile congressman are humiliated by these bribery allegations. It reads right out of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Could you imagine this happening in 1920s Poland? Or even in modern day Europe. Yet, one can scour the (mainstream) press and listen to conversations of the common folk without hearing and reading one word from that angle.
Sometimes I look around at a baseball stadium and see Kosher hotdog stands, Minyanim in the mezzanine and as a student of History I cant help but let my imagination roam to a Soccer stadium Berlin 1920, Warsaw 1930, Vienna 1910, Moscow 1990. Do you think for a moment that if a Chossid would walk into any of the above mentioned venues with his garb he’d come out in one piece?
I’m not saying it’s necessarily a good thing I’m just mentioning it as an indicator.
A few months ago there were much talked about riots in Boro Park. When and where in our history of exile have we felt comfortable enough to riot?
I’ve been to many European cities and have often times been laughed at spit at while wearing my kippa in public. You’re different and you feel different and the locals have a very low tolerance for anyone different.
Now, from a spiritual standpoint it might be better that we do not get too comfortable, but this piece is strictly from a physical outlook.

So, while my eyes look longingly toward Zion, I appreciate this Great Land for everything it’s stood for and given us.
For the comfort and peace of mind to be able to grow and raise a family with Freedom from Fear.

Happy 230th America!