Sunday, April 29, 2007

New Arrivals

pictures taken out my window..of mighty oak leaves in their infancy...

Do Holech Dor Ba'ah

rake up one generation
along comes another..

The miracle of spring..ahhh

looks just like his Dad though


Thursday, April 26, 2007

We can no longer continue...

reprint from old blog

I'm sorry it's come to this...

We were once so hot together..we looked good..and complimented each other..

Then I started getting the itch...and you felt it...

I couldn't help was your fault..and you know it..

It's reached a point just make me feel old...look old...

and lately..

I've been having violent thoughts blades..

About getting rid of the most extreme and violent way possible..

My Dear....Sefirah Beard...your time has come...

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Macho vs Soft

After the terrible tragedy last week at Virginia Tech I noticed two knee jerk reactions.

The Macho reaction. Those complaining about the meekness of our society. Complaining how the students didn’t fight back among the other things. Those vowing to avoid the next attack by introducing more discipline and a hardening of opinion in support of a further proliferation of firearms.

The Soft reaction. Those that felt compassion for other loners and others suffering from mental issues. Those vowing to avoid another attack by looking out for the warning signs early and by vowing to be more inclusive.

This let me to think about how these 2 reactions reflect in other areas of life and in society as a whole. There are Soft societies and Macho societies. There are Soft ways of reacting to many real life situations and Macho ways.

For example up until 100 years ago the world was generally a Macho world. You couldn’t find many compassionate Monarchs or national leaders. Disputes were settled with might and those different than you were not worthy of your compassion.
The horrors of World War 2 saw Western Europe go soft. Incredibly, countries that had been warring non stop for hundreds of years suddenly softened up to one another. The thought of war between England and France is as unfathomable as the thought of 50 years passing without a war was 200 years ago. But it only works because all the countries softened up at the same time creating a micro environment of peace.
Let’s hope it doesn’t take another collosal war to bring the rest of the world to soften up.

Another area where this difference is highlighted is in Chinuch.
I once read a Russian parenting handbook from about 150 years ago where it talks about the punishments to meted out for the smalest infractions. Not only were the punishments too difficult to read ,it also recommended that every child (and wife) be hit at least once a day for no reason whatsoever.
Here we see a clear softening up in the way parents and teachers relate to their kids.
The Belzer Rebbe in his yearly speech to his chassidim this past year talked about how times have changed and hitting/strict discipline is simply no longer effective. You can only reach children through love. He urged Rebbeim and parents to try to relate to kids on their own level and you’ll see that most of the time there really is no reason to get upset.
Another example of Soft trumping Macho...

But perhaps the most dramatic example in western society is mental health. Where up until 30-40 years ago there was no compassion at all for those with mental illness. Those with serious disabilites were locked away for life. There really was not much understanding of the borderline illnesses like depression, schizophrenia, borderline personality disorder etc. Today these illnesses are treated and dealt with compassionately. It’s very easy to jump all over someone who is mentally ill from a macho perspective and demand he/she be put away etc... But if you soften up and try to understand what it’s like to be in his/her mind then a whole new world of compassion opens before you. My Rebbe z’tzl used to say there are no bad people, only sick people. That might be taking it to an extreme but if one really thinks that way then how can you not feel compassion?

The signs are there. One of the hallmarks of the Messianic era is this softening as Yeshaya Hanavi describes it so beautifully. Even the mighty lion will soften up.

Of course until that time we need to find a medium ground. If we soften up completely our enemies will trample us. However if our entire agenda is based on living another day as opposed to making every moment special for as many people as we can then we create a Macho society built on fear.


Friday, April 20, 2007

Shabbos Sacrifice

Shabbos has always been my refuge..getaway
My the vast dessert of the day to day
When I can put my yetzer hora to rest
And experience a time..thoroughly blessed

However, the last few weeks..I’ve felt something
Something different..a little depressing
Perhaps a midlife crisis of sorts
My heart and memory in cohorts
Reminding me
Binding me
To past sins..
I’d rather forget
That it wont let
My shabbos function
The way it should
As thoughts of eternal damnation
Awaits my poor soul..
She seems to be aware..on the day
She is fully awake..

Then I thought
These damaging thoughts

Why the heck am I here?
In this world?

I’m here for him
His honor
His glory
What right do I have to worry about myself?
And so I pick up the pieces
Enough selfishness

What will be with the next world
Is none of my concern..
My only concern
Is what will be with God this world
And melancholy on shabbos or anytime is absurd
And this strange joy
And I dance to Hashem
For the gift of Shabbos
And the privelege of being able to praise him..
Even for one moment
Even if I’m marched
Into the gates of hell..
For all eternity



Tuesday, April 17, 2007

The Puppeteer

Reprinted from my old blog ob'm

Every one settle down..Shhh
Bobby sit in the front..Next to Zaidie..
Uncles..aunts sit in this section
Kids settle down
Neighbors hide your glee..
Are we ready?

The Puppet Show..



Curtains slide open


A long ooooooh from the crowd..
As the cutest baby puppets
In the cutest baby outfits
Come dancing and cooing aloud

Ahh the look of pride on the puppeteers face

Now the music picks up pace..
As the puppets are now children
The audience claps to the rhythm
Strings yanking their arms
And legs and heads
Their frozen smiling faces

Clap Clap Clap
Oy look at how Zaidies face shines with joy

Hands reaching into bags of food
Munching ..eating..laughing
Ooh look at that puppet sing
And say over a vort
And the Mah Nishtana
What a good puppet..
Good puppet

Clap Clap Clap
Ahhh the look of pride on the puppeteers face..

The puppeteer with his silly fixed smirk
With silly confidence does he jerk
Those strings...those strings..
Pull...push...yank ...jerk
Another act
More food in the back
The adolescent puppets
Oy do they look handsome in their hats for us
Ha Ha

The string rips with a snap
Whats that puppet doing???
Bring him back
A look of horror spreads over the
Horrified audience
Running for the doors...
As the puppet...sprouts some hair
Voice deepens..
Comes loose...and the others too
They’re Puppets!
Grab them!

The puppeteer shouts..
How dare you shame me!
How dare you embarrass me
You’re ruining my show!

Poor Puppeteer.
It was cute while it lasted.



Sunday, April 15, 2007

I lie to my children..

It’s quite odd how certain myths that you have been told by your parents over and over again become so ingrained in your psyche that you find yourself repeating them to the next generation. Even after you know that they’re simply not true.

There are quite a few that I can think of but I will mention three relatively harmless ones.

1. Coffee stunts your growth.
There is absolutely no basis in science for this. Yet it had been drilled into me so often, everytime my kids want to make a coffee I just repeat it as an almost knee jerk reaction.
So while I’ll let my kids happily ingest yellow #5, benzoate, phylakturin and phosphoric acid, some isolated gene passed down the generations will pass on this lie to prohibit the drinking of cofee until they reach at least 5’7”

2. Your eyelids can get stuck in the inside out postion if you do it often enough.
When boys reach an age of 7-8 they suddenly get this urge to turn their eyelids inside out to make everyone in the room cringe. Yes, I did it too.
But when was the last time you sat down on the train next to a guy with inside out eyelids wearing a pityful shrug as if to say “...shoulda listened to Mom” ?

3. Reading in bad lighting is bad for your eyes.
This, I’m sure most still believe as I had for many years. Until I read an article in a science journal that showed that it is simply not the case. Yet I still repeat it..again and again.

I'd love to hear some of your tall tales....


Thursday, April 12, 2007

That time of year again...

We interrupt all the poetry with a small dose of testosterone...

The sounds of roaring crowds, men crashing into boards, blades slashing ice and the horn of a goal scored.
Teeth missing, Canadian accents..yes's the NHL playoffs and all 3 New York teams are playing.
Playoff hockey is the most exciting adrenailine pumping action sports can produce.
There is nothing that compares to a desparate scramble in front of the net or a 2 on 1 breakaway in sudden death overtime.

Go Devils!

Speaking of Hockey and Excitement I'll add a video of the most exciting, electrifying moment in Sports history. A moment that transcended Sports and raised a nations spirits. When for 60 minutes, the Cold War was not being played out on battlefields but on a rink of ice in Lake Placid, New York during the 1980 Olympics. A moment permanently known as The Miracle On Ice.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Seder of dreams

Everything was so perfect..
The table shimmering white..
Silver, gleaming..
My first Pesach home..
The kids angels...
Saying Divrei Torah..
Asking questions..
Little Avi saying the Mah Nishtana so sweetly
Mommy glowing with pride..
Everyone singing...
Everything started going blurry..
My hearing..muffled..
The sounds of harps..filling the room...
Then..back into focus...
My wifes exasperated face..
Davidd!!! Where are you??
Oh my God..
Avi get down from the piano!!
Yanky...How could you leave your Hagaddah in Yeshiva?
Don't you remember anything your Rebbe told you?
Guys pleeeeassseee no Harry Potter at the Seder...
Alright..whoever sits nicely while I say this story will get a special prize...

See?..that was fun..


And so, now as then this rag tag of imperfect
yet well meaning sojourners..
hurriedly left Mitzrayim..
with stained shirts and somewhat of an appreciation of what it means to be a Jew...

The moment Yom Tov was over I called my Grandfather and told him next year we hoped to be at his Seder again..where somehow he manages to cast a spell with his real life tales that I can never match...

And I wonder what everyones rush to make their "own seder" is...