Wednesday, January 31, 2007

The E word

Tu Bshvat..Happy Birthday trees
Full of beautiful memories
On a fig.nose scrunched..turned head
Wishing God had chosen oranges instead

In honor of Tu Bshvat I will write about one of Frum Judiasms favorite topics..the Environment.

This is a topic I’ve always been attracted to and been concerned about.
I would love eating at peoples homes in Yeshiva and I’d bring up global warming and the melting arctic ice caps and watch my hosts react as if I just professed my faith in Jesus.

Why is it that we are so skeptical and unconcerned?
As believers in Hashem we should want to protect this beautiful planet.

There are a few reasons for this in my humble opinion
A. The fact that the environment is generally touted by the Left Wing we tend to say the environment in the same breath as abortion and gay marriage.
While that might be true, it is also true that the Right Wing gets most of it's support from the very industrialists that gain from all those pollution spewing factories.
However, as the evidence mounts even those in the Center and Right are coming around and realizing the disaster we face by indiscriminate pollution.

B. There have been some a few posts lately noting the fact that frum people are so afraid of dogs. I think it's part of a larger phenomenon. For reasons I won't discuss here, we have become an Uber Urban people, totally disconnected from land and nature.
We run from animals..screech at bugs...dash from one air conditioned bubble to gardners to plant matching petunias...
We've created this artificial existence and are completely disconnected from nature.

When was the last time you'’ve felt...
The sweet breeze coming in from an open window while you're in bed.
The feel of moist soil on your hands as you bury a sapling in the ground.
Picking fresh dill for your soup marveling at the miracle of growth.
Walked barefoot on a thick lawn of grass..
Filled a bird feeder and then watched as birds of yellow, red, blue come eat from your food..

The natural world is a concept..far removed from our reality and so it's hard to love something so abstract.

Ki HaAdam Etz Hasadah..
We are connected so profoundly with the world.
Our souls under the Kisei Hakavod encompass the entire natural world.
Our bodies are from the earth and will one day return...

There'’s not much one individual can do to effect the environment.
But the first step is awareness.

Being connected to this beautiful place we call earth.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007


I have created man in MY image

You hath reFASHIONed thyself
In your image
What LIE in
Your imagination
HIS image
HER image
And you saw that it was good
And nice
And it was evening..
And it was morning..

G’day you silly man..



Sunday, January 28, 2007

Angel of death

Leah wiped away another tear. Rocking back and forth in her favorite rocking chair in the corner of the family room, she reflected on her life and her day alternately. The soft lamp light highlighted her soft features and green eyes. A lifetime of non stop stressing definitely left it’s mark on her face. She looked her 55 years.
Closing her eyes she couldn’t chase away that feeling of dread that had been hounding her for the past 24 hours.
It all began last night when she began to see, feel and hear it.
The shadows cast by the drapes on the green walls started taking forms unlike which she’d ever seen. Menacing yet casting a hypnotic spell. She sat there transfixed as they grew and shrunk with her pupils, morphing into fantastic shapes and images. The silence was holding her hostage as one of the shapes on the wall suddenly took the form of her Mother who died in her mid 50s some 25 years earlier, and then quickly shrunk back into another shape. It became clear to her that this is it. She remembered reading that people can sense the Malach Hamaves the day they die and she vividly recalled the uneasiness her mom felt the day before she died in her sleep. She felt her throat tighten as a sense of panic gripped her.
Then she heard the whispers, at first they were very faint then they got louder and clearer although she couldn’t make out what they were saying. They were frightening yet calming in a strange way.
She fell asleep in her chair and when she woke in the morning she tried her hardest to act normal not wanting to alarm her husband and children. She found her hand shaking as she sipped her coffee That dark presence was all around her. The whispers, the shadows were closing in. She avoided the phone, friends and even her favorite blogs and spent most of the day reflecting on her life and accomplishments.
She had a tough childhood and emerged a strong young woman. She wiped away tears as she remembered her moments of joy and grief. She wondered how her family and friends will react to her death and found herself growing very sad. She tried listening to music, not to hear those whispers but it just agitated her more. Wrapped in her favorite cashmere wrap she shivered, a woman alone with her fate. Darkness fell once again and she called her children, trying to keep her composure as she told them again and again that she loved them. The shadows returned once again dancing on the green walls restlessly. Her heart was pounding in her chest and she started penning a letter for her family.
She suddenly turned white as a ghost as she recalled…a conversation..
Oh my goodness!
Of course!
She grabbed the phone and dialed her son David number..misdialing twice in the process.
Come on..answer the PHONNEE!
“Whatsup Ma?”
“Zeeskeit..remember yesterday”, she started breathlessly, “we were discussing Moishies Bar Mitzvah and you said something jokingly like..wouldnt it be funny if you don’t even make it to the Bar Mizvah after all you’ve been stressing over it..just before you got another call!”
“umm yea”
“David…Say CHAS VSHALOM!...say Bli Ayin Hora!!”
“huh? come know I don’t believe in that stuff…”

“ok..ok calm down Chas Vshalom ..Bli Ayin Horah”, he said with a chuckle.
Just then her husband opened the door and the light, chasing away the shadows, only to see his wife with her head back, utterly exhausted and relieved.



Wednesday, January 24, 2007

My Hero

Thank you Gonzo and Anonym00kie for tagging me...

Hero is not a term to be taken lightly.

But the truth is if you look around you will find heroes all around you..even here in our midst I’ve been inspired by a few bloggers. Someone like Anonym00ks who gave up a life and love to chase the truth... truly humbles me with her clear insights and struggles.

I want to focus on the person that had the greatest impact on my life.

My Grandfather may he live many more healthy years.
A rare man in so many ways.
A true aristocrat.
His childhood is hidden behind the veil of history.
He was a tremendous Masmid back in Europe and came from an extraordinarily poor family.
He would often tell me stories of sitting down to Shabbos meals with old bread and some milk.
I don’t know much about his experiences during the war as he never talks about it. I do know that he lost his parents, 6 siblings and his entire world.
He established a new life with my grandmother may she live..and have what can only called a perfect marriage. You’ve never seen more opposite people..yet they’re so in love. I often catch them staring at one another across the table all teary eyed..or holding hands when no one is watching.
My Grandfather is a tall, handsome and softspoken man with beautiful blue eyes and a great sense of humour.
The concept of quarelling or animosity doesn’t exist for him.
Before every Simcha he aways comes over to me and tells me that he doesn’t want any honors and whenever any issues would come he’d always make the same self effacing face and tell me it’s not worth arguing.
He gives 2 shiurim a day and always has a sefer in his hand.

But what’s truly remarkable is how he related to me and how involved he was in my life. I always felt he was the one person who always understood me and always called him for advice.
When I went to camp or yeshiva he’d send me 3-4 pages letters every few full of love and gentle musser.
He mastered the art of rebuke and Tochacha and always strove to perfect my life.
Coaching me in proper table ettiquette.
Encouraging me to learn on Chol Hamoed.
Always wanting to learn with me.
One of the most important lessons he taught me was that one can find opportunities for chessed and acts of kindness almost every minute of the day and always taught me to be vigilant of that. His business ethic was rare. He would convince people who he knew could not afford what he was selling not to buy his goods..telling them instead to buy something less expensive. It’s a miracle he made any money at all.

I am so lucky to have had a hero like this in my love me like he did and to guide me.
My Zaidie is a perfect man in my eyes and in the eyes of many others and he’s my hero.
A true aristocrat.

My second Spiderman.



Monday, January 22, 2007

Poor Fish

This is a tale of a fish. My poor poor pet fish. I’ve watched him grow from a tiny sliver in a bag to the big bully fish in the tank. Yes he can be quite feisty and while I can sit and chuckle safely on the oxygen side of the glass the other fish go scurrying when he comes by.
Well last week while cleaning out my fish tank he attempted a quick getaway and actually flopped all over the downstairs with half my family running away the other half in hot pursuit. After a sharp rebuke he was flipped back into the tank. I went to the kitchen for about 5 minutes and when I came back he was gone once again ! I was beside myself.. I thought I had covered it better.
We looked all over but he was really gone. Incredibly my pet fish had escaped!
How many people can say that?
The next morning on my way back from shul something caught my eye. Right there in my azalea bush on the side of my house was my poor fish. He looked absolutely exhausted and I couldn’t help but admire his tenacity and determination (yup..u gotta turn to fish for some inspiration these days). After respectfully covering him with a white handkerchief I went home sat on the couch and started thinking while abstractly staring at the now much happier fish tank.

Where exactly was this little guy going? I would imagine he was instinctively trying to get to his natural habitat which happens to be Lake Malawi in Africa (yes the continent). I couldn’t help but laugh at the sheer futility of it.

He died flipping and flopping to get from 12,435 miles 78 feet and 3 inches to 12,435 miles 53 feet 1 inch away from the shores of Lake Malawi.

Then I wondered at our futile struggles in this world. Is someone somewhere watching us and chuckling at our futility? Instinctively we are all looking, searching and yearning for something, the source of our existence, our habitat. Our souls are restless yet we spend a lifetime flipping and flopping until we collapse of exhaustion and then it’s over and we are as far from the source as my poor fish is buried from Lake Malawi.

I feel like it needs an explanation, so I'm posting it from the comments..

You see even though he was so far from his Lake..I managed to recreate his environment in the tank with the right water ..PH levels and temerature..
Once he left that environment is when his troubles started.

Hashem creates for us spaces where we can survive and be attached to our source..even here...Its when we leave....


Friday, January 19, 2007

This week by the numbers

Quick roundup of this the numbers..

That's how much an English Football player is getting paid for 5 years of crossing the pond and learning how to say S-O-C-C-E-R.
Yes that's Two Hundred and Fifty Million Dollars.
To put things into perspective..that's double what A-Rod is getting...while playing a sport that ranks somewhere between lacrosse and curling in this country.

Thats how many Iraqi civilians were killed in 2006. Staggering amount.
To put things into perspective..If you add up all the wars Israel has fought since 1948 including all soldiers and civilians in terrorist attacks ..the number is right around 20,000.
not comparing situations..just putting a number into perpective...calm down

Thats how many inches of snow we've accumulated to date on my back porch. I never thought I'd see the day when my kids would be up squealing at the window at 1/8 of an inch of wet slush.
To put things into perspective my fingernail is 1/2 an inch long.

Oh..and did I mention its January 19th..?

Thats it..for now

Good Shabbos

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Winter Night

When that cold..midnight blue canvas
Unfurls blank..before you..
When the cold outside..
Contrasts the warmth inside
When the wind
And rattles
The window
As the snow
does blow
And churn
do turn
Into the words
That always warm
Forget the storm
The logs burning
Reading and learning
Surrounding and warming
Huddling and yawning
The type of feeling that can only be produced by

This piano concerto by Beethoven - The Moonlight Sonata is what got me hooked on Classical Music. When I was 14 I found a cassette with it and I was mesmerized by the haunting beauty..


Monday, January 15, 2007

Wounded, Alive

Wounded animal..
Licking her wounds
The herd moves on
Does anyone care?
Does anyone notice?
Emotional hurt
Try to move
The only ones that will cry
Are the ones watching on imax screens
A world away
What is death?
So cheap
What is life?
Worth fighting for?
How many do you bring down
To live?

Or do you..?
Do you stay
Another day
And another
And find a new kind of life
Perhaps greater
On the greatest of screens
a world away

wounded, alive



Thursday, January 11, 2007

Tread on me

I can still recall that palpable excitement when the big clumsy UPS truck rocked up my driveway that cold February morning (yes winters were once cold). Two weeks had passed since I ordered a new state of the art treadmill on and now I was attacking the huge brown box with scissors and knives. I spent half the night assembing all the pieces and at last turned it on in the semi-darkness. The lights came to life blinking and emiting high tech sound effects as I ran my hand over the plastic like a The Price Is Right model might.
The second half of the night was spent reading the manual in 7 languages by the soft bedside lamplight.

By the time morning finally arrived I was more than ready to get started.

My favorite feature was definitely the pre-set program that the machine sets for you that simulates real life situations. After mastering the more tame golf course programs I started checking out the really advanced ones. Clicking down one after another Mt. Everest...New York Marathon...Running with the Bulls at Pamplona...and other enticing programs one suddenly jumped out at me. There in blinking green LED was Davids Day.
Naturally curiosity got the best of me and I stepped on and pressed start.

Slowly it started to move step..step...shuffle...downstairs...quicker....walk to shul...sittng...walking...running to catch.....swaying in train....walking 2 blocks...climbing a flight or two...down again...up...walking to lunch...back up...back down hall.....pace a little...2 blocks...train up 3 steps....sit....back out to shul...back home....until it finally slowed to a halt.

This was incredible, my entire day was pre-programmed.
And so it was day after day I’d hop on and be propelled through the motions.

Until one day there I was on the train platform when an extraordinarily beautiful voice washed over me singing a hauntingly beautiful song. I was mesmerized, but that didn’t stop the V Train from rumbling through the tunnel. And the treadmill automatically propelled me forward.
But I didn’t want to go and started frantically searching for some sort of STOP button but could not find any. As the perplexed passengers watched me I noticed for the first time that I’m not the only one with this nifty gagdet.
Every other person seemed to be glued to their treadmills like zombies.
That ethereal voice was fading and fading when I reached down, ripped out the power chord and came to a grinding halt as the doors to the train closed and the pack stared out the window at me with a look of indifference and hatred.

The train rumbled out with a fury and I was left all alone in the silence. I followed my ears back to the voice, the music and lost myself in the moment as a homeless man curiously checked out my discarded treadmill in the background.


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Monday, January 08, 2007

Dawn of a new day

Pics...Another Lake dawn. Coffee at dawn

Deep breath
This is my moment
Mine alone
The moment I share with no one
The day in its infancy
Limitless possibility
Hot drink
Time to think
Every sip of coffee
Courses through me
Like a shot of bourbon
Magic light
Goodbye night
Hope rises
With the sun
sun rises
Chases the dark
Everything stark
New, undisturbed
Today will be superb
Can feel it
With the chill
In my bones
Welcome to my moment..


Thursday, January 04, 2007

Theres a strange woman in my room - Explained

Please read the previous post before reading this..

People are constantly evolving. Changing.
The person I am today is not the person I was yesterday..and certainly not the person I was a year or 5 years ago.
I think differently. I see things differently.
I'm like a Russian Matrioshka doll one inside the other..inside the other..
Somewhere inside me is the 10 year old boy..and the 15 year old teen..and then the 25 year old man...
We marry and fall in love with someone and then life takes over and he goes to work she goes to work...and new layers are added..and the evolution progresses..
And before you know it theres a complete stranger in your room.
Sure... a familiar one..but still a stranger..

And then when we try to mend things we try going back to the good old days not realizing that that person is no longer here..

The focus has to be on getting to know this new person..who he or she is...his or her life...thoughts etc..and that can have an exciting element to it as well..providing you like the new person..youre saddled with.

Monday, January 01, 2007

There's a strange woman in my room..

Picture was taken one foggy morning last week at dawn..

There’s a strange woman in my bedroom.
I don’t know who she is. I’m not even sure when I started noticing her but there she is night after night. Her looks, her habits and voice all seem very familiar as if I had been more wrapped up in her in a previous lifetime.
This bizarre arrangement makes as much sense as that odd bearded Frenchman whose been painting in the corner of my kitchen for the past month.
And yet this is my life so we seem to tolerate each other’s existence.

There is this strange wall that appeared with her that grows and shrinks at odd times. At times it grows so big and black that it just smothers my beating heart and I run under my covers. It seems the more I see her the less I know her and it seems she feels the same about me. Yet there are definitely moments of joy that evoke the moment the sun bursts through dark thunderclouds. These moments bolster that feeling that we somehow know each other in a different existence. Perhaps in a previous lifetime we were a comedy troupe or peanut butter and jelly. I often wonder how and what she thinks about my presence in her life.

And so last week after a particularly cold and icy day, at that moment of relief that often washes over me the moment she falls asleep and the tension dissipates, I happened to chance upon a notebook to see a little essay she’s writing. It’s entitled “There’s a strange man in my bedroom”. A little nightlight went on in my head. It was right then and there that I decided to give up trying to remember where I know her from and what that was like.
I decided to focus on her now and who she is. I lifted the quill from the inkwell and started filling in the essay for her at her little table. I couldn’t help but smile as I watched her sleep from the corner of my eye as I furiously wrote all about me and my life, my tongue busily licking at the corner of my mouth. As the rooster announced dawns approach I finally wrapped it up. And when I was done I put down my quill and took a sledgehammer and started banging away at that wall waking her in the process.
Imagine the look of puzzlement on her face as I slashed and bashed away. What the heck are you doing? She asked. So I put down the sledgehammer and started jumping on her bed forcing her up. After a few jumps we were beside ourselves with laughter tumbling all over each other. Out of breath I looked up into her eyes and asked “Hey you..wanna go out on a date one of these days, I’d really like get to know you?"

Her smile lit up the room. I suddenly remembered where I knew her from.


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