Thursday, August 31, 2006'd make a fascinating obituary

I have this morbid fascination with airplane disasters.
Is there a more horrifying spectacle then a huge jet crashing?
I cannot imagine what it’s like to be trapped in a moment of impending death and I think that’s the horror of it.

This weeks tragedy in Kentucky made me realize something. Whenever something like this happens the papers are full of obituaries the next day of those that perished, and there are always such fascinating people among them.
people devoted to bettering other peoples lives..etc.
I find it hard to believe that fate places these people solely on doomed flights.
So, the next time I fly instead of snacking on peanuts and reading Deltas in flight magazine..I feel like getting up and getting to know my fellow passengers.

Have any of you ever met anyone of note on a plane?

Monday, August 28, 2006

Who is afraid of Elul?

I can still hear my Grandfather describe what Elul was like in the old country not very long ago.
Frightening Fear.
The Chazzan would intone Rosh Chodesh ELUL and a the cries from the women’s gallery.. piercing and heart wrenching.
They used to say in Elul even the fish shake in the rivers.
After all this is our last chance before The Yom HaDin. When we all pass before God himself and are judged for life and death.
So I wonder..what happened?
Where is that fear?
The answer my friends is quite clear.
We’re too pampered.
We’re soo protected from real hardships.
Consider how removed we are from death
Rubbernecking on the Turnpike
Is the closest most of us...
Those was a very real part of life
Infants dying 2 out of 5
A bad cold could lead to death
And death was on display..for all to see
Everyone died at home..spectators around the bed

Was very very real
I mean shabbos meals with Nothing to eat
Crusty bread softened up with water
No shoes for little boys
Forget about toys

And us?
We’re so pampered
Death, poverty..they’re concepts
Had a hard day?..relax
Watch something
In a few weeks..
The Book of Life and The Book of that thing that happens to old people in hospitals will be open
Who will be rich and who will need to open another credit card account

somehow lacks the punch to terrify us..



Monday, August 21, 2006

Fanfare for the common man

Classical music is full of grand scored extolling the virtues of Emperors, Kings and Gods.
In 1942 Aaron Copland wrote a stirring piece about the common man...and it inspired this poem.
So Press Play and Read.

I see you every morning
Every evening, I see
The sweat
The toil of the common man

I see the look of satisfaction
A project to completion
Albeit brief
The sun sets on another common day

I hear your weary sighs
Unappreciated lives
Of wives
Appreciating lives
The exhaustion of the common woman

This fanfare is for you,
For us
For those that work hard
For the common man
The third trombone

We make the world
Our flag unfurled
We ride
With uncommon pride
We’re the spokes in the wheel
The world’s unending reel

We raise families
Who raise families
Who raise families
Happily ever

We smile at the next guy
Who smiles at the next
Who smiles to himself

And at the end of the day
We sit down and say
To us
The common folk
The underappreciated
And out hardened faces
Soften up..and we fall asleep

Another common day
Another common man
Another common woman

To Us!



Friday, August 18, 2006

The Greatest Power

Behold The Greatest Power in the world.
So great, it can destroy cities...
It can cure diseases...

All of life is beholden to this power.

A power Greater than God.

The Power of Human Free Will

The ability to choose between good and evil.
It’s frightening the power we have.
At any moment we can change our will..
Become a Monster..Become a Saint..

Everything good and bad that has ever happened was once a choice
A moment when a human mind decided to do something good or bad

Imagine. The Ohr Hachayim says that Human Free Will supersedes Divine Will.
I have the power to kill someone before his time is up.
This power is so great..that if it’s out of control..God has to destroy it.
But in essence..Our Free Will is in our souls which is part of God himself..

And so Hashem beseeches this weeks Parsha..
See..I have placed before you good and evil...
Choose Life!
and..I shall choose life through you....


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Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Airport inSecurity 2008

"Flight 334 to Brussels leaving in 15 minutes from Gate 12"

"Mr. Lake...please remove all your clothing..put them in this bin..yes even those....

now please put on this terry robe for the flight..your clothing will be waiting for you when you disembark.."

"This way..Mr. Lake to the dental chair where the saliva will be suctioned out of your mouth...

"Boarding Pass..please...please dab that bead of sweat off your forehead before boarding..

"Thank you Mr. Lake...Enjoy your flight......"

On a heavier note...I found this poem in the pile of discarded preflight items..

They came for the boxcutters..I didn’t say anything..because I'm not a boxcutter
They came for the tweezers...I didn’t say anything..because I'm not a tweezers
They came for the shoes...I didn’t say anything..because I'm not a shoe
They came for the water bottles....I didn’t say anything..because I'm not a waterbottle
Then they came for me....and there was no one left to say anything



Monday, August 14, 2006


It was an overcast August evening some 2 decades ago.
I remember every detail because few moments in my life have carried such weight..such enormity.
We were driving to Kennedy Airport from the Catskills where we had just spent a Shabbos, just the three of us. My Parents and I. It was our first and only Shabbos..just the 3 of us...and I felt as if I truly got to know them. Just in time to leave them.
I was heading off to yeshiva..a boy of 14..going on 15.
I had this huge lump in a a corkscrew holding back a flood of emotions.
The silence was not helping..punctured only by such distractionary statements as, “You remembered to write down all the phone numbers right?”..and “I hope the rain holds up”.
Watching the New York skyline rush by, a flood of memories threatened to drown me right then and there. 14 years of memories condensed into 2 hours. It was as if I had 1 hour to live. One hour of life as I knew it. From birth until now all I had known was the warm cocoon of my home, my parents, siblings, bed, food and stability. Here I was headed into an unknown..

We pulled up to the curbside and checked in my bags. My Father hugged me, looked me in the eye and shared with me some words of wisdom that life had taught him...”The most important thing is who you surround yourself with, no one will influence you like friends” and a few other important life lessons.
I told him “I love you”, I think.

Then my Mom hugged me and started to tear up, before my father broke it up and told us it’s getting late. It was dark by now. I turned to go and was too lost to introduce myself to the 5 or 6 other boys on my flight. I kept to a window seat and turned toward the window as the City lights disappeared beneath us. The low hum of the engines..the stale air of the plane a sudden and cold departure from the world I knew. For the first time in my life I was truly alone. The lump in my throat got dislodged and tears started flowing down my cheeks in the darkness.

By the time the week was over I had lots of new friends, was used to my lumpy mattress, and my new life.

I was now a man of 15 and not looking back.


Thursday, August 10, 2006


What better time to try a new food than after a fast..right?

So every year after Tisha B'av I break my fast on something I usually don't like.
Last year it was Olives. I could never eat olives..but after the fast..the smell actually made my mouth water.
Two years ago it was Mushrooms.

This year it didn't work. I tried...I really tried..but I was ready to continue fasting rather than eat...Eggplant.



I can't even look at it.

Why is that? Why do we harbor such intense likes and dislikes?

Well..before you go running to Google..I did all the work for you.
It seems that it's a combination of genes, facial structure, environment and what we see eaten at home.
Talk about a safe theory...gee what else could it be?

A big part of what we like and dislike is determined by more than our's smell and sight that play a big role.
We've known since we're small children that if you close your nose you can't taste.
As a matter of fact the Kli Yakar says that the word Mun, as in the biblical food Manna, hints to the miracle of it having all tastes. The Mem and the Nun are the only 2 letters that cannot be said with your nose closed...and the nose is what controls what we taste.

I read recently about this restaurant in Paris that serves you in a completely dark room. You cannot see a thing.
Supposedly your lack of one sense awakens your other senses and the food is supposed to taste awesome.

Hmm maybe next year I'll try the eggplant in the dark.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

glasswalls, Marriage

In honor of Tu B'Av

It’s not every day
That you get to share
Something so dear
With the person you care
About, more than anyone
else, The one that’s the one
that you’ve always known
as your own

To break through insecurity
Thick barriers of vanity
We are Married after all
And that should conquer all
the world, Ours to share
Our love, Our Fear

So we can install
Reface our hearts wall
With a glass shell
Because those that dwell
Live in glass homes
Do not throw stones
And shatter their own
...........After all
Sticks and stones
May break my bones
But words
And unspoken
...........Shatter all