Friday, July 29, 2011

The Last Taboo

That's it?

Have we broken the last taboo?

Is murder now one of our modes of operation?

As shocking as the news as been over the past few weeks, those with some knowledge of history know that Jews aren't strangers to murder. After all, murder played a role in the destruction of both Batei Hamikdash and reading old newspapers will reveal some shocking news stories that shatter the idyllic painting that is often presented to us as fact about life in the old country.

Nevertheless after the trauma of The Holocaust we felt close, small and fragile. We felt like we were part of a delicate rebuilding process and a level of intimacy was achieved amidst the common sense of purpose that was our mission.
But that seems to be fading as the last of survivors pass on and The Holocaust becomes less reality and more history. That reality, I think is hitting us really hard with the passing of those leaders that gave us that common purpose and with this new frightening reality that is emerging.

The Ba'al Shem Tov once asked, the Mishne in Avos says that The wise one learns from every single person in the world.

What can one possible learn from despicable cold blooded murderers??

There are many forms of murder.
The Gemara says that he that embarrasses another person is as if he murdered him. Being insensitive to others, causing shame to others are all minor forms of murder.
So I look at these murderers and internalize that sense of revulsion. Then when I'm faced with a position where I can possibly be causing another shame or embarrassment I bring up that same sense of revulsion...

May God have mercy on us...


Wednesday, July 27, 2011

lots to paint

Michaelangelos Murals..

We specialize in Debt Ceilings and Heat Domes


Thursday, July 14, 2011

Lesson on Chillul Hashem from the Kletzky tragedy


Here's a little observation that I made in the shadow of one of the most traumatic events to hit our community in recent memory, the murder of Leiby Kletzky by an Orthodox Jew.

It's about our obsession with Chillul Hashem.
This is something I've written about many times before and over the past few days it's been shown that it's not the crime that causes the Chillul Hashem but the way we deal with it.
After looking around online forums, listening to news reports and talking to people I'm not getting any vibes which would indicate anyone outside of our community viewing us with disgust for producing such a monster.
The reason for this is because of our reaction. Our unequivocal revulsion and rejection as a community.

If only we could internalize this lesson and apply it to all other areas of possible embarrassment (without the moral equivalency).
If we could be more transparent and open with our issues. If we could reject wrongdoing off the bat, then even the most heinous crimes would not be a Chillul Hashem.
Everyone knows that people are humans and they have flaws. People can respect and understand that. On the contrary, I think if we just live normally without looking in the proverbial mirror every day to see how our image looks to the rest of the world, then people would see a community of humans with human challenges and divine responses . A community of people with struggles, flaws and profound faith.
It's only when there's denial and protecting the guilty that true Chillul Hashem occurs.
The irony is that when Chillul Hashem ITSELF becomes the obsession that we look pathetic and that's when the Chillul Hashem occurs.


Wednesday, July 13, 2011



we have all been
...this morning

we have all been
...bereft of our innocence

...taken off familiar streets
into dark and frightening places
...knowing that we would never go back

we have all been given
a glimpse...into the eyes
pure evil
...and we recoil in horror

what kind of god.....
..can allow free will...
that contains such evil... its inventory

incomprehensible god
please take that little boy
into your arms
...and make him
forget the things
he's seen and felt
......over the past 48 hours

rip... leiby kletzky

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Playing to win...


One of the most useful things about sports is the rich variety of truisms it lends us.
One line you will hear every so often if you follow sports is "They're playing not to lose.."
I'll briefly try to describe a scenario.
You have 2 hockey teams playing a playoff series. The team that comes into the series heavily favored is suddenly down 2 games to none. During Game 3 you start discerning that instead of the favorite playing with a drive to win, the players are playing not to lose. You see fear as the driving motivating force. They're not as loose and confident. It's the job of the coach to change that mindset and get the players to play to win.

I think that when it comes to Chinuch these days our community is playing not to lose.
We're gripped with this fear of our children going off the derech or rebelling in some form or another that we're constantly on the defensive.
I see parents allowing their young teenaged sons to do as they please.
I see people afraid of adding "too many restrictions".
I see a generation that has given up on Idealism, on striving to push ourselves and our children to greatness.
I see parents afraid of meting out punishments to youngsters.

In other words we've ceased playing to win, and when that happens you usually lose.