Sunday, August 27, 2006

DWO Driving While Orthodox

One thing that has always puzzled me is how Orthodox Jews do not know how to drive. If you go into any major orthodox city whether it be Boro Park, Lakewood, Williamsburg, etc. Almost every car has dents in them. This is not just the coincidence that other people hit them. There are too many cars with dents or other damage to be a coincidence. Unfortunately this summer there were many sever accidents in upstate New York that took a life and injured many. How come during the regular year you don't hear about these accidents upstate? In my opinion if you can't drive, then don't. Every time someone who is a careless driver or bad driver gets behind the wheel, they are breaking Halacha because they are putting their lives as well as everyone else's at risk. How come you don't find these driving problems within the very modern orthodox and conservative and reformed. In the Chofetz Chaim Yeshiva
I saw a sign posted by one of the Rebbaim about careless driving and parking and how local neighbors were complaining. Now whoever is reading this must be wondering why I am bringing this up. My wife and I recently traded our old car in for a 2006 model. I woke up this morning to find that someone parked on the bumper of the car. Not only did they park on the bumper of our new car but the whole block was pretty empty and this person could have parked anywhere. This person needed to park on the bumper because they had to run to shul which is down the block. Little did it surprise me that the driver of this vehicle was an orthodox person trying to get to shul. I was very angry and wanted to key this persons car. The only reason why I didn't is because the whole car was banged up anyway. This person should not be driving. The orthodox community needs to realize that driving is a privilege not a necessity. If you live in New York there is plenty of transportation you can take to go where you need to or you can ride a bike. I think Rebeim need to tell their Mispallilim that people need to drive more carefully and if they can not than it is Assur for them to drive. The evidence of this problem is clear if you go into any Orthodox community. Because of this problem I have a nice new dent in the back of my new car. There was another time when I was in Boro Park when I was stopped at a red light and somebody hit me!! How do you do this if there is a red light!! DWO I cannot stand it and something needs to be done before more people get killed and injured. If you see someone is a bad driver and their car is dented let them know how you feel. When my grandfather got older and he felt he could not drive well, he voluntarily gave up his license and started to take car service. If more people would act like my grandfather this world would be a much safer place.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Shemona Esrei Part 2

It is, or should be a well known Halacha that when davening Shemona Esrei one should say the words so they can hear themselves but no one else should hear them. Meaning you should not say your Shemona Esrei so it is audible to others. One can see this halacha written in almost every single siddur whether in the back (artscroll) or before Shemona Esrei in many all Hebrew siddurim.

If this is a Halacha, how come many people don't follow it. When I am trying to recite Shemona Esrei, I do not need to hear someone else's. There was an article on someone's blog which I don't remember about whether or not you should say Amen to someone's Bracha during their Shemona Esrei if they are saying it loud enough for you to hear. My first reaction after reading this was that you shouldn't be able to hear someone else's Shemona Esrei so this shouldn't be a question. Apparently that's not the case. People tell me that when you go to shul that you should just sit away from these people. What if they come late and plop right next to you? What are you supposed to do? In the neighborhood I live in, I can identify who some of these people are so I can sit on the opposite side of the shul of them. What if you can hear them even if you are on the other side of the room? What if one of these people is a Rabbi in the community? You would think that a Rabbi would know this halacha. If a person has a hearing problem so they can't hear themselves which is why they are loud, don't they realize? Why can't they go in a corner and daven in a way so the sound doesn't travel and disturb other people? Do some people daven out loud because they want everyone to hear that they are actually davening?? Which is worse, talking during the rest of davening and disturbing people or saying Shemona Esrei out loud and disturbing people? It is a halacha as well ,ven though people do it, not to shout out Yaaleh Viyavo in the middle of Shemona Esrei to remind people to say it. I always find that the people who do this usually rush through their Shemona Esrei so they can be the first to scream Yaaleh Viyavo like they are the entire minyans savior for saying it. Rabbaim developed ways to make up for skipping it by accident, because people are not supposed to shout out Yaaleh Viyavo. I thought the universal custom amongst all Jews was to bang twice on the shtender to remind everyone Before they start their Shemona Esrei. By bringing up these issues, I don't feel that I am being critical, these are just things that drive me nuts. Maybe the Rav's of shuls should make little halacha reminders before davening so these things shouldn't happen. The only problem with this is too many Jews don't listen to what Rabbaim say anyway so it wouldn't make any difference.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Three Steps Back at the End of Shemona Esrei

At the beginning of the Shemona Esrei or Silent Prayer during the three designated tefillahs during the day, you take three steps back followed by three steps forward, and then at the end you take three steps back. The Halacha states that one should look behind them before taking three steps back to make sure there is no one behind them that they might disturb. There are more Halachas regarding what happens if there is a line of people going back waiting to take the three steps but I will not get into that.

My first question is why do some people at the end take the exaggerated three steps back that end up being a good 5 or 6 feet back? Isn't that a little much? What if you fall? Isn't it better to take the casual three steps back? Do these people want to emphasize to the whole world that they are finished so they should take these giant steps backward? I am not sure why people do this but I would love to know.

My next question is why most people don't follow this Halacha of looking in back of them before taking three steps back. Even if you don't know the halacha, to me it is common sense to look behind you if you are going to walk backwards. Do you know how many times that this has happened to me that someone took there three steps back and almost knocked me down? There have been some times where someone has knocked the siddur out of my hands? If the person says sorry which is usually not the case, you can't even answer them because you are still davening Shemona Esrei. Is the sorry even worth it anyway? These people obviously have done this before and are going to do it again. Is a sorry enough for ruining someone's tefillah by knocking them or there siddur down? These people to me appear to be very self centered and do not care. Once again its hard not to judge these people when it is a recurring thing. You cannot avoid these people either because you never know who its going to be.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

This Past Shabbos Exerience with talkers

Now that I am feeling a little bit better, I was home for Shabbos and able to go to Shul to my regular minyan. For those of you who have read my posts here on talking in shul know how I feel about talking. This past Shabbos, I experienced something that got me so mad. The minyan I go to has the reputation of a no talking minyan and it usually is quiet all of davening and If it isn't the Rav will make sure that it is. This Shabbos there was an Aufruf and the Rav was away. Because of the Aufruf there were guests in the minyan. Guests are always welcome but if you are a guest you have to respect your hosts and act in the manner that is appropriate to your hosts. These guests in the minyan, sat in the back at a table and were talking the entire time. I don't know when these people daven if they are talking the whole time. We even had to stop davening a few times because these people would just not shut up. If you know that everyone else is not talking and people are shushing you and davening is stopping because of you, is that not a sign to shut up? In my opinion, I think these people should be asked to leave and never come back again. During the announcements, these kind guests had the chutzpah to leave, go to where the kiddush was set up, and started eating the food. First of all everyone was still in shul, and second of all, kiddush wasn't even recited. What gave these people the rights to act in this matter? Just because you wear a hat and gartle that means your frum and you can act this way? These are also the same people that wonder why there children go off the derech and blame it on the Yeshivas instead of looking at themselves. I don't know how to prevent myself from getting so angry when these people are doing these things right in front of your face. These people should not be allowed in any shul if they act this way and the Rav of shuls should throw these people out until they learn how to respect a shul and know how to respect Hashem. Do these people really think that Hashem is going to listen to their prayers when they are disturbing and ruining others prayers? I just don't understand and I think I will always get angry at this and there is no way to prevent it. The reason why you go to a shul that has no talking and respect for everyone is because you believe in that. These shuls don't need these Rashaim to ruin it and soneone needs to say something to them. If no one does it will spread like it already has. The majority of the frum community has become desensitized to this and unfortunately this behavior has become the norm in many shuls.

Thursday, August 10, 2006


I have not had a post for a while because I have been sick. I felt weird all of Shabbos Nachamu and on Sunday I couldn't get out of bed. I took my temperature and it was 102.7 so the doctor told me to go to the ER. When in the ER I got hooked up to an IV got some bloodwork taken and had some X-rays taken. It turns out I got a bacterial pneumonia and I have been out of work all week so far. I am hoping to go back to work on Friday so I don't go a full week without pay since I cannot afford it.

One interesting thing about getting pneumonia after Tisha Bav is how and why did this happen. One of the questions my doctor asked me was if my immune system might have been low for any reason. When I told him about Tisha Bav right away he said that was how I was able to get pneumonia. With that in mind, does that mean that one can get a Heter not to fast on any fast day because it can lead to this every time. My parents claim I get sick after every fast day. I remember not eating anything at all after Yom Kippur last year because I was sick but beyond that I don't remember.

Now what many in the Frum world don't realize is why we get sick. One outlook is that we are being punished for something we don't know so we need to reflect and do teshuva so we don't get sick again. Another outlook is that we are getting sick so we are getting punished in this world instead of getting punished in the next world. With these two approaches or outlook's to sickness, they should be combined and accepted with Joy. If we accept it with Joy, it will lead to better things. As Rebbe Nachman teaches, if we are not happy, we will be sad which will lead to depression and once we are depressed we are no longer serving Hashem properly.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Misnagdim and Chasidim on Tisha Bav

There is a question that in a way is a joke but in a way it is sad. What is the difference between Chassidim and Misnagdim on Tisha Bav?

On Tisha Bav, Chassidim use paper booklets for Kinnos and Eicha which are usually disposed of every year because they believe they won't need them again. Misnagdim purchase these fancy leather bound Kinnos and Eicha or fancy hardcover editions with the intention that they can use them in the future.

If someone does not believe me about this phenomenon check out your local Seforim store and see what is available. Then explore shuls on Tisha Bav and see for yourself what people use.

I used to use these paper ones every year but since my Hebrew is not so good, I purchased an English edition which happened to cost me a few dollars but every year I hope that I will not need to use it.

Another interesting thing that I noticed in the difference between Chassidim and Misnagdim on Tisha Bav is the way one davens. A Halacha of Maariv on Tisha Bav eve is to daven in a slow mournful way. That had me thinking, Misnagdish shuls daven like that on a regular basis. Since they daven like this on a regular basis how can you change they way you daven to make in more mournful and slow. If you daven in a Chassidish shul, you know there is a difference and you will see many people crying and actually feeling the prayers and what is actually going on. There are plenty of Misnagdim who act in this matter as well but my point is that they act like this during the rest of the year as well. I will now ask the question of who do you think is right in this regard? I think the Chassidim have a much better understanding of the Jewish Calendar and clearly make adjustments to their Tefillah and Avodah day by day depending upon the importance of the day. Misnagdim just act the same way over and over and day after day. I am not saying that it is bad to do that, I just feel that Chassidim are better off with their method.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Tisha Bav

This Tisha Bav is going to be a very meaningful one. Many Rabbonim across the world have been saying that we are in the midst of the final Geula. Is this Tisha Bav going to be the last? Will we make it to Tisha Bav. Moshiach can come at any moment now. Because of that we should all be taking time out to reflect, learn and do teshuva. If we do not do these things it is possible that the Moshiach will only come after major destruction Chas V'shalom. With this in mind, I have an important question. Why has it become mainstream the past couple of years for shuls to show movies on Tisha Bav. Wouldn't it be better for people to attend a shiur or learn extra. Does sitting in front of a film for however long the film is help you have a meaningful and reflective Tisha Bav. If someone does not go to the movies during the year, why do they go to a public viewing of a film on Tisha Bav. Of all times during the year to see a film, is this the right time? Some people watch Holocaust Films, some watch Chofetz Chaim videos as well as Aish videos and whoever else has videos. Maybe I don't understand. I have never been to any of these viewings so I am not sure what goes on there. If people would spend that time reading a translation of the Kinos or Eicha with commentary would one accomplish more? I am not sure which is the best way to observe Tisha Bav and I only ask these questions because I feel we do not observe it properly and we do not understand or feel what the day is really about.