Sunday, December 30, 2007

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

A-7713 Was His Name

Earlier this week Oprah Winfrey aired a 1-hour special of her visit to Auschwitz with Elie Wiesel. The two of them walked through the snow under the infamous iron declaration "Arbeit Macht Frei" – Work makes one free. "This is irony" Elie said with a sad chuckle as they entered history's most recognized symbol of what Frei is not.

Canisters of Zyklon B piled high behind a glass wall; shoes of every size and color. "Look at those," Elie mused pointing to one pair. "A dancer. Must have belonged to a dancer. All these people – you know one of these people could have found the cure for cancer or AIDS – killed for no reason at all. The God of Auschwitz was the God of Death."

"I get it" said Oprah. No you don't. Elie told her: "When one child dies, it makes no sense. When millions of men, women and children are sent systematically to their deaths, it can't make any sense!"

In Parshas Bamidbar, Hashem asks for the Jews to be counted. Rashi says it's because he loves us.

Elie explained the demoralizing of the killing process. First you were a city, then a ghetto, then "a street, a house, a room, a cattle car then you came here you even lost your name. I became A-7713."

Elie died and became a number.

Excluding the Levi'im, 600,000 Jewish people were counted. He counted because He loved them. Why not the Levi'im? Because they were not going to die in the desert with the rest of their generation.

A-7713; one of six million others. He loved them so He numbered them to die. One-point-five-million Jewish children were killed during the Holocaust. Most of them were never even tattooed. Like the Levi'im, they were not meant to die.

"When millions of men, women and children are sent systematically to their deaths, it can't make any sense!"

Written by Avi [The bold is mine]

(first possuk of shemos)
"Baim"=coming. now. shoulda said "bau"=came. in parshas vayigash it made sense, it was then. well every day we are in golus its a chiddush. we don't belong here. we just got here for the day. yes we are put in here, yaakov (and now "v'es yakov"), but we have the koach as "bnei yisroel". we winning over. and also 'li rosh'. we are a head to hashem. the whole first sefer, beraishis, was maaseh avos. twas the nesinas koach necessary for us going into mitzrayim (out of which we will rise even higher---every sin, every darkness, is sourced in light. orta, says the gemara. "or" and then taf, four hundred men with eisav, 400 batei dinin, all from the four hundred silver coins that a"a gave efroin for the maarah). the "oiver l'socher" allows for profit. the real i doesnt belong in golus. its not where im supposed to be. its not my natural environment. the fact that im here now today is not related to the fact that i was here yesterday. when i woke up this morn, it was with my neshama that is tehorah. its the same attached as always. it has not been changed by the mitzrayim (neither of the kedusha--meitzarim, nor of the kelipah--this golus). (something with a shinuy changes ownership--not my soul though. sullied perhaps at times but not changed.) so dont get down that yesterday was not good. today we start anew. hashem put u in golus again today. u weren't born in this prison. you just got here. golus can't entrench you. even if you think it can. its not able to get to you. bnei yisroel are COMING into mitzrayim seventy years later. its new. its different. its strange. its off. its not the norm. they remember that a, this is not their place and b, they can and must get out. and they know how. the a"r says that its not enough "b'chol dor v'dor", its gotta be "b'chol yom v'yom". our rebbe says, whadaya mean 'get out of mitzrayim?' whadaya mean 'break free'? no! we were never IN it. we just came this morn. its not our place, remember? that's why this possuk/inyan is shayach to us even now right before the geula. cuz golus is as natural and real and regular now as it was 1836 years ago. in other words, IT'S NOT!
(and maybe ill continue)

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

a blackout

(please not above)
SayTehillim Elana Leah bas Sheindel Rachel (very critical)

Chaya Mushka bas Matil

Who were hit by a car.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

And if you hear that a Jewish mother and a Jewish father were killed in a car crash, think not: "Oy, that's terrible."; think: "Everything that G-d does is for the good, for the best."

And if you hear that a Jewish mother and a Jewish father were killed in a car crash, think not: "Everything that G-d does is for the good and for the best."; think: "Everything that G-d does IS good, IS the best".

And if you hear that a Jewish mother and a Jewish father were killed in a car crash, think not: "Everything that G-d does is good and is the best"; think: "Oy that's terrible! We need moshiach! Enough of this, Hashem! This is madness! This is insanity! This is golus! We don't want it and we don't deserve it! Get us out of here! No excuses! Bring us the geula! End our suffering and end our pain! End our sadness and end our misery! You don't want it either! Stop taking Your Neshomas up there--instead You come down here!!"

If you hear that a Jewish mother and a Jewish father were killed in a car crash, think not.

Friday, December 21, 2007

[how today answered yesterday]

The conclusion was: Even the great minds who are here must lay aside their intellects and not be ruled by their reason and knowledge, for they are susceptible to being misguided by their intellect to the point that, chas vesholom, their end may be a bitter one.
The essential thing in these times of the "footseps of moshiach" is not to follow intellect and reason, but to fulfill torah and mitzvos wholeheartedly, with simple faith in the G-d of Israel.
Not storing an overseas number in my phone.
Rolling up my sleeves when I'm wearing a sweater.
Singing והיא שעמדה anytime but Pesach.
Making photocopies.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Women's Shiur (via conference call)

Thursday, 11 Tevet, we will IY"H be having a conference call l'zchus refuah shelaimah l'Chana bas Rasha Zelda.

Time: 10:00PM est
Number: 605-475-4150
Access Code: 770770

Speaker: Mrs. Ella Lerman
Topic: 2-part series on the life of the Rambam (she will be continuing the following thursday)

In the zchus of everyone learning may all those that need a refuah shelaimah have one, and may we merit the coming of moshiach now!

This shiur happens once or twice a week. To be added to the email list, please email

ריבון העולמים, אתה צויתנו, להקריב קרבן התמיד במועדו

The Last 130 Pages Of 'The Fountainhead'


An Email
A Longer Email
A Sharp Retort
A Witty Line
Comics When It's Dark Out
Going To Sleep Early
My Delek Shirt (Around The House)
My Personal Time
My Personal Space
My Arrogance
My Fear of Arrogance
The Books By Saki & O. Henry

wanted to share

~ Today's Dry Bones

~ "I overhear three middle-aged men, with strong north African accents and kippot still creased from being folded and placed in pockets or glove compartments.

"Hayita etzel Nun? [Were you at Nun yet?]"
"Ma pitom Nun? [Say what? Nun?]"
"Ken, shtei dakot mikan! [Yeah, two minutes from here]"
"Bo, Yallah! [Let's get a move on!]"
[Calls across the square to his friend:] "Bo, Avi! L'Nun! [Come, Avi!–To Nun!]" "

(more about the Visit to the Kevarim of Yehoshua, Nun and Calev)

~ A year has passed since the Second Lebanon War in the summer of 2006, but First Lieutenant M. has not forgotten about the activities of Migdal Ohr Yeshiva which had been discreetly accomplished.

'I remember the two weeks of near face-to-face combat, the confused orders and insufficient combat gear, the intense hunger, physical and emotional exhaustion and toughest of all, the self-imposed silence and disassociation with our surroundings. "Now is not the right time to complain, but when it is over," we thought to ourselves, "when the air raid sirens stop and we are out of these fatigues, we can talk and the truth will be known."

'When the news came that we were receiving a day off, our hearts soared. We suffered so much stress and hardship. Where would we go? How should we take full advantage of this gift?

'Rumors begin to circulate that we were going to some school in Migdal Ha'Emek. "This must be a joke! Who ordered ten buses to bring us to some yeshiva with some Rabbi who is just going to try and brainwash us?"

(rest of the 'story' here. nearly judge jill sent it to me. agav, check out ascent.)

~ tautologically

~ Today's Chumash: 1) The hayom yom dealt with "On" 2) Acharit Hayamim 3) Gur Aryeh 4) שכם

Monday, December 17, 2007

One wintry Scandinavian morning, I shivered.
And the story stops there.
So, from the beginning:
One wintry Scandinavian morning, I shivered.
I was walking to work and I was short and small against the tall snowy trees, the wide healthy lawns and the biting forceful air.
The sky was vast and mysterious. Far far above. Abover than what I ever knew above to be.
And then there was me.
Little me.
O, tall and confident, I strode; sure did. But I was short and small against the world, remember?
Very short and very small.

And then whamo!
An electrifying and utterly chilling realization smashed right into me and that's when I shivered.

See, this is what I had been thinking--

There are gabillions upon trabillions of people in the world. Countries and countries and countries of em. Different customs, colors, clothing. Multitudes of varied lifestyles, languages, livelihoods. Gabillions and trabillions. Yes, all are a gargantuan step higher than the three other levels of creation--animals, plants and inanimateness. Yet, all are people with desires, weaknesses and strategies.
I'm a gabillionth of a trabillionth of the world.

Then my gaze floated upwards and grasped the sky that was so above it had to Above. And then this is what I suddenly thought--

Up there is an Unlimited Being.
This G-d was able to choose whatever and whomever to be His.
He chose the Jews and made them His nation. Just because.
And I'm Jewish.
But not only that!
Because I know that I'm Jewish, I'm a huge step ahead. I am so incredibly lucky to realize just how incredibly lucky I am.

And then new thoughts pushed their urgent way through--

So I'm Jewish and I know it. Ya. But so many people are Jewish, know they are Jewish and still are too similar to the gabillions and trabillions of people living in the world.
What do I have different?

What do I have different? I have a Life.

I have a G-d, a Goal, a Leader, a Guide, a Meaning, a Precision and an Awareness that is rare.
I have it cuz I'm Chabad.
As a Chabad Chossid, I am connected to a Rebbe whose every action pierced the worlds.
Extremely difficult to explain to an outsider, yet (hopefully!) astonishingly obvious to a fellow insider.

Yes, the world is fabulously grand with many many goings on and I am but one person. But I have a strong ray extending from myself to everything I touch--be it physically or metaphysically--and that is what differentiates me from the rest.

I know mountains. I know cake. I know relationships. I know growth. I know smiles. I know trains. I know thoughts. I know family. I know sound. I know consequences.

Chassidus teaches me all that. Chassidus teaches me to learn all that.
Yiddishkeit shows me a woven scene and says "accept it!". Chassidus opens my hand and directs me to find the thread. That thread of truth that is in every object and idea.

The world isn't so daunting any more.

Look at what I have--From a gabillionth of a trabillionth, I went to being personally Chosen, naturally Informed and continuously Guided.

But wait, there's more.

I'm also a woman.

I'm the center of the home. The center of the children. The center of the continuity of the world. חוה=אם כל חי. I am the mother of all creation.
And more, much much more than that (and maybe it is just "that")--I am one of the Noshim that will bring Moshiach. I see the Rebbe auditorially crowning my fellow females and myself time and time again throughout the years.

I am part of an extremely microscopic group that has been charged with a extremely monumental task and I know it and I can do it.
I can do it cuz I know it.

No small wonder I shivered that wintry Scandinavian morning.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Laughing With The Times #3

Guess it's too late to make any more "Muzzle Tov" jokes re the Avos and their cattle.

Shaya's Classmates

Every darn time I read this story, I get tears in my eyes.

In Brooklyn, New York, Chush is a school that caters to learning-disabled children. Some children remain in Chush for their entire school careers, while others can be mainstreamed into conventional yeshivos and Bais Yaakovs. There are a few children who attend Chush for most of the week and go to a regular school on Sundays.

At a Chush fund-raising dinner, the father of a Chush child delivered a speech that would never be forgotten by all who attended. After extolling the school and its dedicated staff, he cried out, “Where is the perfection in my son Shaya? Everything that Hashem [G-d] does is done with perfection. But my child cannot understand things as other children do. My child cannot remember facts and figures as other children do. Where is Hashem’s perfection?” The audience was shocked by the question, pained by the father’s anguish and stilled by his piercing query.

“I believe,” the father answered, “that when Hashem brings a child like this into the world, the perfection that He seeks is in the way people react to this child.”

He then told the following story about his son Shaya.

Shaya attends Chush throughout the week and Yeshivah Darchei Torah in Far Rockaway on Sundays. One Sunday afternoon, Shaya and his father came to Darchei Torah as his classmates were playing baseball. The game was in progress and as Shaya and his father made their way towards the ball field, Shaya said, “Do you think you could get me into the game?”

Shaya’s father knew his son was not at all athletic, and that most boys would not want him on their team. But Shaya’s father understood that if his son was chosen in, it would give him a comfortable sense of belonging.

Shaya’s father approached one of the boys in the field and asked, “Do you think my Shaya could get into the game?”

The boy looked around for guidance from his teammates. Getting none, he took matters into his own hands and said, “We are losing by six runs and the game is already in the eighth inning. I guess he can be on our team and we’ll try to put him up to bat in the ninth inning.”

Shaya’s father was ecstatic as Shaya smiled broadly. Shaya was told to put on a glove and go out to play short center field, a position that exists only in softball. There were no protests from the opposing team, which would now be hitting with an extra man in the outfield.

In the bottom of the eighth inning, Shaya’s team scored a few runs but was still behind by three. In the bottom of the ninth inning, Shaya’s team scored again and now with two outs and the bases loaded and the potential winning runs on base, Shaya was scheduled to be up. Would the team actually let Shaya bat at this juncture and give away their chance to win the game?

Surprisingly, Shaya was told to take a bat and try to get a hit. Everyone knew that it was all but impossible, for Shaya didn’t even know how to hold the bat properly, let alone hit with it. However as Shaya stepped up to the plate, the pitcher moved in a few steps to lob the ball in softly so that Shaya should at least be able to make contact.

The first pitch came in and Shaya swung clumsily and missed. One of Shaya’s teammates came up to Shaya and together they held the bat and faced the pitcher waiting for the next pitch. The pitcher again took a few steps forward to toss the ball softly towards Shaya.

As the next pitch came in, Shaya and his teammate swung the bat and together they hit a slow ground ball to the pitcher. The pitcher picked up the soft grounder and could easily have thrown the ball to the first baseman. Shaya would have been out and that would have ended the game.

Instead, the pitcher took the ball and threw it on a high arc to right field, far and wide beyond the first baseman’s reach. Everyone started yelling, “Shaya, run to first! Shaya, run to first!” Never in his life had Shaya run to first.

He scampered down the baseline wide eyed and startled. By the time he reached first base, the right fielder had the ball. He could have thrown the ball to the second baseman who would tag out Shaya, who was still running. But the right fielder understood what the pitcher’s intentions were, so he threw the ball high and far over the third baseman’s head, as everyone yelled, “Shaya, run to second! Shaya, run to second.”

Shaya ran towards second base as the runners ahead of him deliriously circled the bases towards home. As Shaya reached second base, the opposing shortstop ran towards him, turned him towards the direction of third base and shouted “Shaya, run to third!”

As Shaya rounded third, the boys from both teams ran behind him screaming, “Shaya, run home! Shaya, run home!”

Shaya ran home, stepped on home plate and all 18 boys lifted him on their shoulders and made him the hero, as he had just hit the “grand slam” and won the game for his team.

“That day,” said the father who now had tears rolling down his face, “those 18 boys reached their level of perfection."

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Walla! Jameel went to Kever Yosef!
(well, so did the sabra...)

לזכר חיילי צה"ל שנהרגו במלחמת לבנון השניה

Many many months ago, I found this video in my inbox with the following message:

look into their eyes

[name of friend]

More than five views later, I too, request and urge you to 'look into their eyes'.

And I too, thank you.

[You ought to recognize these faces]

[some of] The Chanukahs That Were

(ed: unedited)
....workin in marzipan for 2 hours........goin to golanis house for menorah, playin darbukah around the menorah and singin songs in hebrew and in english lol......goin to bet hachayal to visit carmel the druze.....buyin donuts for random ppl...impromptu chanukah lightings in uzi's falafel shop, itzik's bakery, corner store, shuk and outside my building w/ dov shurin and his friendly guitar....meeting (m) mivtzayit and goin to a coffee shop w/ them!......seein em again in chevron last night omg omg how weird...seeing the kid from the 'sababa group' that we were talkin to on the way back from purim chevron last year....lightin menorah in my chabad house...chillin w/ avigayil the whole time, buyin her ice cream n stuff...givin out jelly donuts to soldiers as well as random pedestrians...letting everyone use my cool chanukah glasses, like when u look at menorah u see stars instead of lights-i just offered random ppl in streets to use it cuz i wanted everyone to enjoy it...also gave one to apharsimon and twas so cute to see everyone all into it hehe...o and i met i know the whole fam.... lighting the menorah myself for the very first time! i promise u i almost started crying (you'd think i just escaped from russia or somethin and it was my first time doin mitzvot) ...and omg i told the egged bus driver chag sameach and he gave me a chocolate coin!! could u believe it!? oysh this place is so great i love them.


o and the nun gimmel hai pay dreidels...and comin home to my room and seein a menorah opposite the mezuzah like our minhag is...and hearing that people are goin to modiin and chashmonaim for shabbat! (macabees..) and...and...and....

~ ~ ~

Two Chanukah Lessons (from the rebbe, written by tzvi freeman)

On the first night of Chanukah all eight candle holders stand before you.
But you light only one.
Tomorrow night you shall light two.
You know that eventually you will light all eight.
From which we learn two things:
1. Move step by step in life. Take things on at a pace you can handle.
2. Always grow. Always keep moving. If you did one good thing yesterday, do two today.
Your ultimate achievement is always one step ahead.

~ ~ ~
and then "I heard Chaya gasp" cuz of this. Which reinforced my belief in this and made this really personal. I started to recognized this. And then I was told this.

~ ~ ~

6 weeks after the holiday, I experienced
my very own chanukah miracle (a true story, anonymookie)
"The shakran reckt the shidduch."

-English Comedian/Comedian in English

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

When, at last, we said, "Sorry love, no more bread and water for you", we were unprepared for her reaction. She just smiled. We nearly thought she was pullin an Ayn on us but then we saw steam escaping through her lips.

I don't know which one is worse.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

a freilichen chanukah, mrs. melbourne


Shearing the Wolf

Jeff Peters was always eloquent when the ethics of his profession was under discussion.

"The only times," said he, "that me and Andy Tucker ever had any hiatuses in our cordial intents was when we differed on the moral aspects of grafting. Andy had his standards and I had mine. I didn't approve of all of Andy's schemes for levying contributions from the public, and he thought I allowed my conscience to interfere too often for the financial good of the firm. We had high arguments sometimes. One word led on to another till he said I reminded him of Rockefeller.

"'I don't know how you mean that, Andy,' says I, 'but we have been friends too long for me to take offense, at a taunt that you will regret when you cool off. I have yet,' says I, 'to shake hands with a subpoena server.' (continue)


Conscience in Art

"I never could hold my partner, Andy Tucker, down to legitimate ethics of pure swindling," said Jeff Peters to me one day.

"Andy had too much imagination to be honest. He used to devise schemes of money-getting so fraudulent and high-financial that they wouldn't have been allowed in the bylaws of a railroad rebate system.

"Myself, I never believed in taking any man's dollars unless I gave him something for it--something in the way of rolled gold jewelry, garden seeds, lumbago lotion, stock certificates, stove polish or a crack on the head to show for his money. I guess I must have had New England ancestors away back and inherited some of their stanch and rugged fear of the police.

"But Andy's family tree was in different kind. I don't think he could have traced his descent any further back than a corporation. (continue)

Monday, December 03, 2007

Two of my fingers flemated on Sunday night. Twas awesome!
p.s. Concentration camps pictures coming.