Saturday, December 23, 2006

Erev Shabbos Madness

This past Erev Shabbos is one that will be hard to forget. The first thing that was on my mind is that I had to go to my mother in law for shabbos. This is something that I always dread and I don't know of anyone that ever wants to go to their MIL. Because of how early Shabbos starts, things are always in a rush. Because of this rush things need to be scheduled to make it to Shabbos in time. One thing that I do every week before Shabbos is go to the mikveh. The mikveh I go to is a small one that not to many people know about. When I arrived at the Mikvah, I put my money in the box and then went inside. Once inside, I saw that the filter was broken and that I would have to go to the other mikveh. I never go to the other mikveh because it is always crowded, and the people that go there act like they are in a swimming pool or some sort of club. When I got to this mikveh, because of DWO and a car parked in the middle of the street, I had to park down the block because I did not want to get a ticket by parking too far from the curb like the other car which prevents one from parallel parking correctly. Once in the mikveh I had to wait on line for the shower. Just common sense should tell you that if it is ever shabbos during the winter everyone is in a rush, so why would you take a 20 minute shower when there is a long line of people waiting for the shower? I do not have an answer to this question so maybe someone can enlighten me with one. Once I finally got in the shower, I proceeded to the mikveh and put my towel in a place where I would know it is mine and where nobody else's towel was. What did not surprise we was that when I came out of the mikveh, my towel was gone. Not only do people take long showers when there is a line of people who are all in a rush,but people take other peoples towels as well. Is this the behavior that someone should have if they are going to the mikveh to purify or become more spiritual? You could have fooled me. I had to walk all the way to the other side to get a towel which isn't a pleasant experience when you are dripping wet and naked. I can say that at least this time when I was there, there were no Israelis playing rat tail. After the whole mikveh experience, when I was on the way to the MIL for shabbos, she calls to make sure that I brought a menorah and oil since they lit already and did not have one for us. Nice to give some warning or to wait and just light with us when we get there like the halacha states if you are lodging elsewhere for the evening. After going back home and getting a menorah and oil I was able to get back, set up, and light before the 18 minutes were up. I am lucky that I work for a Jewish company and we had an early Mincha in the office just in case anybody would be in a similar situation.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

When Chanukah isn't Jewish

One of the things that is very unique about Chanukah is that Jewish people of all denominations and even unaffilliated can relate to. There is a few reasons why I think this is the case. Chanukah is something that is simple and doesn't take much to celebrate. All you really have to do is light a menorah which everyone is capable of doing. Chanukah is not like a YomTov where you have to be in shul and you cannot do any work or Shabbos. Purim you have obligations as well but on Chanukah all you have to do is light the menorah. Another reason why every Jew can relate to Chanukah is because of Christmas. Many Jews feel left out, even if they are completely secular because they do not celebrate Christmas so they look to Chanukah to fill that void so they can have something to celebrate during the American holiday season.

With that said, the shul I davened in this past Shabbos had the following in front of the shul. A menorah several feet tall, with big wrapped presents around the base of the menorah and a big paper mache dreidel as well. To me this looked the same as a decorated Christmas tree. Did this shul take the idea of Chanukah a little too far?? Especially since there is no obligation to give or receive any gifts on Chanukah. I was disturbed by this display and thought that is went a little too far.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

The Conservative Movement and their Decision Last Week

As anyone who reads a newspaper now probably knows, the Conservative Movement last week voted to allow for openly gay and lesbians to be Rabbis and to allow for same sex marriages. I remember commenting on someone's blog that I would not take the time to comment but I have held it in long enough that I am going to say something. I first want to point someone in the direction of a beautiful article written in the World Jewish Review here by Rabbi Avi Shafran of Agudah. After reading the article you can read the actual "Teshuvas" that the Conservative Movement voted on here.

My first comment has to do with what Rabbi Shafran said. In an article he wrote in Moment magazine, he said that the Conservative movement is no longer going to be recognized as a Halachic movement. My opinion is that it wasn't a Halachic movement 5 years ago when he wrote this article and it hasn't been since the times of Avraham Yehoshua Heschel and maybe even up to the time in 1983 when JTS ordained the first women Rabbi. In last weeks Jewish Week in this article, Rabbi Roth said the following, " The non-egalitarian minyan “survived 10 years until the upstairs egalitarian minyan claimed that any Conservative Jew who was not egalitarian was immoral and [therefore] delegitimate. The student body to this day virtually reviles students who go to the non-egalitarian minyan, and if it was up to most of them, it would not exist because it is [considered] immoral.”

When I was at JTS I can affirm that this was the case. Since i would not daven in the Egalitarian minyan I was looked upon as a sexist as well as viewed as an extremist. There are some great Op Ed and articles on JTA on this issue as well. After reading through briefly the "Teshuvot", the wording of the one that was accepted did nosurprisese me. AS typical Rabbi Dorff style, Science and Opinion come before Torah and its laws and commentary. An experience I had with him was when he came to our dorm for "Dorm Talks". The topic of this talk was Sex, which is something that shouldn'surprisese anyone. He mentioned some ideas about pre marital relations and masturbation. Of course I was shocked by what he said, so I asked him about his source about being OK to spill your seed with a Tanya in my hand showing him what the Alter Rebbe said and his reply was that imedievalal Times it was thought that seminal discharge had a spirit with it which is why the Tanya mentions it the way it does. Now since we know that there are no spirits it is ok to spill your seed.

Rabbi Dorff is the future of the Conservative Movement. An Rabbi who cared at all about Halacha resigned from the Committee and it would nosurprisese me if they join Rabbi Halivni at UTJ with all of the other Rabbis who left the Conservative movement. IS it worth staying at JTS even if they pay a lot of money. Even while I was there I never felt comfortable in that environment and I don't know how anybody who follows halacha can. Gil over at Hirhurim had a post here as well as a few others these past couple of weeks as this issue was publicized. On his post he links the RCA statement on the decision.

When I left the Conservative Movement, I questioned why any Rabbi who was Halachikly observant continued to be involved. Maybe it is the money, I don't know. Many graduates from JTS from the past as well as many former members of USY and RAMAH are not happy with the decision and this decision might just be the icing on the cake for this movement. After speaking to a cousin who is a member of a Reconstructionist Shul, I was trying to figure out what the difference between, Reform, Conservative, and Reconstructionist are. If anyone has read the book Jew Vs Jew can see that everyday we come closer to what the author predicted about that there would be three types of Jews. Secular, Reformative, and Orthodox. Are we at that stage yet? I think we are.


It has been a while since I have been able to post. I wanted to update my Blog Roll to add some of the new friends I have made. I will continue to add names to the blogroll as time goes on. If someone wants me to put them on my blogroll or I left you off let me know. I think this is the first time since I put up the Blogroll that I have changed anything. As things calm down I will continue to post more frequently again. I wanted to make sure I updated my Blogroll because there was a virus when you clicked on the old link for VOS IS NEIAS and I wanted to make sure no one got any problems because of this. There is controversy on what happened to this blog. It can be read about here and here if anyone wants to know what happened. Who knows if its true but it would not surprise me if the site was really hacked onto because people were upset about what was reported. I plan on posting more about Music in the future as well as discuss the current situation with El AL and the Charedim.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Jewish Music Post # 1

Recently I was having a heated discussion with BlogDM about Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach and who should play his music. I am going to respond to him on a later post which will be a long one, especially since this is something I am very passionate about.

What I wanted to discuss was something about Jewish Music which was talked about all over the Jewish Blogosphere today. The first place where I saw something was on Arutz 7 when I got there daily email and saw the following article #7 about the new music video that Avraham Fried has produced. Rubin brings in an Interview with Avraham Fried about the state of Jewish music and I don't remember where I saw the other discussions regarding this issue.

My problem with all of this is why is there a need to have a Jewish Music video? I think all of this is a defamation of the Torah everytime an "entertainer" who some people think is a musician sings some psukim to put on a show for some people. While I was bored and looking at all the stupid videos that are available online, someone posted a video of what they called "Jew Video" which was actually MBD dancing around pretending to be spiritual. Its real spiritual to have your, name, picture, and video all over the place while you are putting money in the bank. What is the necessity of a Jewish Music Video? Most people who listen to that garbage don't have TV's to begin with so where are they going to watch it? If its on a CD its not going to work on a CD player. You need a DVD player or a computer to watch it. What would be the point? In secular music the whole reason why MTV came about was to have a video as an advertisement to sell albums. Videos draw attention by having semi dressed woman dancing around and all sorts of other things. The more vile, the better the video. Is this the path the Jewish Entertainment world is going to take as well to sell more albums?

I know I am being extreme but this has got to be one of the stupidest things around. If you look at the people who are given credit as starting the Jewish Music business, Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach, Ben Zion Shenker, Diaspora, Deveykus, Rabbis Sons and a few more I am unaware of, were in the music business to spread Torah, neginah and dance in a way to help people with their Avodas Hashem and to bring people closer. Not to have their pictures plastered on posters and billboards all over Jewish neighborhoods to sell albums and tickets to concerts. Now on top of that videos need to come out? They might as well sing in English, take all Psukim out of everything they sing, come out with their videos and finally admit what they are doing is not Jewish. There are plenty of Jewish musicians who are out their who are not "entertainers" and are really Baalei Niggunim the right way. I am not going to list the ones who are in this category but I will say there are not many. Not only are there not many of these people but almost all of them live in Israel. That can add to the bumper stickers that I see that say Yerushalayim Shel Zahav- Americai Shel Kesef- Jerusalem of Gold-America of Money.

The only thing I can do is not buy these peoples albums and not listen to their music and go their concerts. The only problem is that it is impossible to ignore when they put there faces all over the newspapers and the other places I mentioned before. Maybe these people love looking at themselves and seeing themselves all over the place now in videos as well. There is no other explanation for this. I will continue with a post to come about Jewish Music in general.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Post Thanksgiving Observations

Yesterday in America, Americans celebrated the wonderful holiday of Thanksgiving. Before I take any religious questioning about anything, I always check to see what was already discussed on Gils blog. After briefly going through some of these posts I want to discuss the following based upon how I feel about the issue.

According to Wikipedia, "Thanksgiving is another name for the Harvest festival, held in churches across the country on a relevant Sunday to mark the end of the local harvest, though it is not thought of as a major event (compared to Christmas or Easter) as it is in North America, where this tradition taken by early settlers became much more important."

If this definition is correct then Thanksgiving should be considered a religious holiday. The day of Thanksgiving is on a different day in Canada and I don't believe other countries celebrate such a holiday. If other countries do not celebrate it then maybe it isn't a religious holiday and it is just an American holiday. I get together with my family on Thanksgiving and I think that Frum Jews in America should take advantage of this holiday and have a meal with their family.

Most Frum Jews get together with their families for Shabbos meals and Yom Tov Meals with restrictions of the melochos of Shabbos and Yom Tov. Thanksgiving offers a time when you can have a meal and enjoy it with your family without having to worry about any Shabbos or Yom Tov problems. The only issue that I see is leftovers. At everyone's meal there is usually leftovers and because Thanksgiving is on Thursday many do not cook for Shabbos and just eat leftovers for Thanksgiving. I think that this practice is wrong and Shabbos needs to come first not second as leftovers indicate. With this in mind, do the Conservative and Reform movement take Thanksgiving too far? I think they do and they should focus their time on Torah and Mitzvos instead of concentrating on Thanksgiving. Here are a few links of examples of what's done in the conservative and reform movements"
1 - From a shul in Long Island
2- From the Reform movement (PDF)

It seems the reform movement is big into helping the Hungry worldwide and the conservative movement is big into the interfaith dialogue. I understand that where the reform movement is coming from with the hunger but I don't understand why they don't list any of the Jewish organization's that help with this problem and only seem to be interested in the secular groups. As Jews, the Jewish people should come first. I am not saying we shouldn't help non Jews but if we are giving away all our money to non- Jewish groups who is going to help our own?

Last year there was an article in the Jewish World/sentinel about a prayer to add during benching that was composed by one of these movements to be said on Thanksgiving. My question to them is what about the Modim prayer in Shemonah Esrei and Mizmor Ltodah?? Teach your movement to say these prayers and what they mean instead of coming out with new ones which to me says you don't respect the ones we have already and have been saying for thousands of years.

I am curious to see what other people did for Thanksgiving and what they think of my observations.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

18 minute matza Minyan

This morning I had the lovely pleasure of deafening in the Minoan which is known as the mat's Minoan or the someone escrow Minoan because on a regular weekday they take 18 minutes to complete seashores. Today because it is Thursday took a few minutes longer because of the Tasmania and Torah readings. One might ask why would I go to such a Minoan if I knew how the davening was going to be. This morning I attended a bris which was in a different neighborhood which would take some time for me to get to. I was going to meet someone who was going to give me a ride their. Because I was not going to make to Shacharis there I davened at a quick minyan before hoping that I would get to the bris on time and just finish my davening there. It turns out that I made it just as they finished the bris and everyone was going down to the Seudah. At the minyan I was able to say Berachos, Baruch Sheamar and yishtabach then everything through tachanun then Aleinu. All of that took me at least twenty minutes while everyone else was finished. Is it me or is this rediculous? Not only that, there were people talking the whole time and people who left early. To those people i ask, whats the point of even going to shul if your not davening? I would love to see what other people think about this minyan. Do minyans like this happen in your neighborhoods?

Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach Part 2

The Legacy of Shlomo Carlebach is one that makes an impression on anyone who is Jewish in this world and many non-Jews as well. Reb Shlomo's Yartzeit is being comemorated by people this whole week and is going to conclude with a convention in New York. This post can be found on :

3rd INTERNATIONAL CARLEBACH CONFERENCE 3rd INTERNATIONAL CARLEBACH CONFERENCE OUTREACH thru INREACH - EVERYONE DESERVES to have their soul fired up! SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 12 Registration begins 9:30am Program begins 10:00am - 5:00 pm at tThe JCC in Manhattan - 344 Amsterdam Ave and 76th, NYC Presenters include: Rabbi David Aaron, Rabbi Ephriam Buchwald, Rabbi Naftali Citron, Rabbi Nehemia Polen, Melinda "Mindy" Ribner, Rabbi Nossen and Channah Schafer, Rabbi Avraham Arieh & Rachel Trugman, Maureen Kushner, Rabbi Shmuel Stauber, Hella Winston and more!! For FULL PROGRAM and To REGISTER and visit online discount by 11/6

Unfortunately I have a big problem with this conference and what it stands for. The past couple of years, Reb Shlomo has been commercialized as seen by this convention. The Motsai Shabbos concert is the following :
Yahrzeit Tribute Concert“Shlomo Carlebach Music for the Soul”Performers include (subject to change): Yisroel Williger, Shloime Dachs, Yossi Piamenta, Mendy Wald, Yehuda Green, Heshy Broyde, Rocky Zweig and The Holy Beggars Band.

If you are a stereo-typical Brooklyn Yeshivish music listener, this would be a great lineup but for a Carlebach fan this is a complete joke. I am not sure about Heshy Broyde and Yehuda Green but Rocky Zweig and maybe Piamenta are the only ones that have anything to do with Reb Shlomo. Whats even a bigger joke is the fact that the other three singing are possible names in the following lawsuit about people stealing Reb Shlomo's music. What bothers me so much is the fact that people like Yisrael Williger are part of the group thadespiseded Reb Shlomo when he was alive. Now that he passed away and these people realize they can make money off of him they love him all of a sudden? These people make me so sick. What makes me even sicker is this post here by Rubin where MBD clearly knows he is stealing and doesn't care and then comes on Mendy Walds new CD a whole thing about stealing. Reb Shlomo had a big problem with these people when he was alive and now that he is not these people think they can take advantage because no one is going to stop them until Neshama starting her lawsuits and posting this on her families webpage.

If you open any of the CDS of these people stealing his music and making money off of it, you never see any thanks to Reb Shlomo or anything about donating money to his foundation. In Israel, the Carlebach memorial and Yarzteit concerts arcompromiseded of people who really had a connection to him and are not trying to use his niggunim to make themselves popular because they can't sell albums or concert tickets any other way. The fact that Sruli Williger goes around leading "Carlebach" shabbatons makes me sick. The so called Teaneck Carlebach group hires these same clowns to do things for them as well. How come the real Chevraren'tnt taking over in America to teach Shlomo Torah, stories, and Niggunim the way they are supposed to be taught? How come Noah Solomon, or Yehuda Solomon are not involved in this concert? How about Rabbi Moshe Shur or Oneg Shemesh even the guys of Pey Daled or Avraham Rosenblum?
If someone could explain to me why this happens I would love to know. There are still many holy people involved with the way the foundation is run I just don't agree with what they are doing. I would think Reb Shlomo would not be happy either. One of the things Reb Shlomo used to go crazy about is when people sing niggunim he brought down from shamayim the wrong way and that is exactly what some of the people I mentioned do. I could make this post much longer and go on and on about this issue but I will not right now because I want people to read this and when things are long people don't read.

I want to post one more thing. I am curious what people think about this article about a Reb Shlomo musical. If this doesn't prove my point about how Reb Shlomo has become commercialized I do not know what can. Maybe someone can fill me in, is Neshama the one commercializing everything?

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach zt'l Yartzeit

I just wanted to post something quick with a much longer post coming up later. Last night and today is the Yartzeit of Shlomo Carlebach. For those of you who don't know who he is or are not familiar with him can check out this. Today at 11 am eastern time Nachum Segal will be hosting a live lunch where you can listen to Reb Shlomo's music. There will also be an archive here from the Jm in the AM show this morning which featured Reb Shlomo's music. If anyone has any stores about Reb Shlomo please feel free to put them in the comments. Anything that is not appropriate will be deleted. I will be posting again later today with stories and comments about the life of Reb Shlomo.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Where to Daven in a Shul

After reading Dvar Phutims post here it got me started on another thing that drives me crazy which is something I will never understand no matter how many people try to explain or rationalize it. It is clear from halacha as seen in Mishna Berurah when one goes to shul they should not sit by the door or stand by the door because it gives the impression that you are rushing to leave shul. With that in mind I have a question. Whenever I show up late for mincha someplace I can never get in. There is this phenomenom that people like crowding by the door when they are late and are scared to go in. I understand that if someone is davening you cannot go within 3 amos of them but if they are in a position that is blocking you, i see no problem with walking within their three amos to get by. By people blocking the entrance they are preventing other people from coming in to daven. To me this looks like selfishness. Why can't you make your way further inside. The minyan I go to, the Rav stops and tells people to move to the front. When people are gathered by the door or in the back, it also leads to talking. Preventing someone from getting into shul is really bothering to me and Rabbaim need to place signs on doors stating this so it doesn't happen.

Conclusions About Halloween

I want to thank Litvak for his lead to the Halloween articles here. Based on everyones comments and from what I observed this year I have come to the following conclusions.

1. Almost everyone who goes to a public school or a non religious private school takes part in Halloween.
2. Immigrants to this country who have never heard of the holiday celebrate as well. I base this on the Chinese families who rang my bell who did not speak English.
3. Whenever you give anyone candy for free without any conditions they are very happy and will be thankful.
4. Despite what people say about Americans knowing the real reasons behind Halloween I think Americans are not. I base this on how it has become a Hallmark Holiday and every radio show and every TV show as well as everywhere you went was Halloween based. When I went to the local JCC/YMHA the receptionist was dressed in a costume.

Therefore, I will continue to give candy to Trick or Treaters unless I learn something new that will change my mind. In one of the comments on the Hirhurim blog it is mentioned that Rav Yaakov Kamenetsky used to give out candy on Halloween because he loved children. It is a persons individual decision whether or not they want to spend money oon candy to distribute but I don't see the harm. I guess it also depends upon where you live. If you live in a real Chassishe Neighborhood like Crown Heights, Williamsburg, or Boro Park where there are not so many non Jews I can understand why you wouldn't want to answer the door but if you live in a neighborhood like I do where there are lots of non-Jews its good to make a Kiddush Hashem in my opinion by partaking.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Quick Survey about Jews and Halloween

I think that it is quite clear that an observant Jew should not celebrate or take part in anything that has to do with Halloween. I found the following articles on line here and here to support this. My question that I want to ask is if giving candy to kids is permissible. By giving candy you are not celebrating any holiday but the person you are giving the candy to might think that you are. In some areas if you do not give candy, your house, car and property will be hit with eggs, silly strings and all sorts of stuff which will cost you a lot of money to clean up. If a cute little kid in costume comes and rings your bell and says Trick or Treat, what are you going to do or what should you do?

Thursday, October 26, 2006

At minyan this morning

I wanted to relate the following incident which happened this morning when I went to minyan and see what my readers opinion is of the matter.

In the minyan I went to this morning, the room is relatively small as is set up with pews with not much space between them. I was sitting in the middle of two people. The person on my left was an old man and the person on my right was a young man who came late and was right next to the shtender as well as being in the aisle. At the end of the Shemona Esrei during the long tachanun prayers they asked the old man next to me to have pesicha and taking the Torah out of the Aron. This man on my left wanted to proceed to the Aron but he could not get through because the guy sitting next to me on the right was still reciting Shemona Esrei as the minyan was ready to take the Torah out to be read. The old man said out loud this is a pain in the ass while he was trying to get by which he couldn't because the pews are too close together and this other guy was still davening Shemona Esrei. Now my question is, who is right in this situation? Is it the old man who came to shul on time who got frustrated with the guy next to me or is it the young guy who was trying to recite Shemona Esrei without being disturbed?

In my opinion they were both wrong. The old man should not have gotten frustrated so quickly and say the word ass in a Beis Midrash. The young man should have had some consideration for the people around him. He came late and was not davening Shemona Esrei with the minyan and he was blocking the path of others. He should have realized this and started his Shemona Esrei in a spot where people could still get by. I am curious to hear how other people will interpret this situation.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Men in the women section

Something that has always bothered me is when men sit in the women's section when they go to shul during the week. Why is this? This started to bother me more when I saw this topic in Mishna Berurah which states that one cannot not do this because it gives the appearance that one is starting a breakaway minyan from the main minyan. In small shuls if there are set times for davening and the minyanim overlap I can understand where there can be a leniency but if there is only one minyan and there is plenty of room, why does a person still find the need to sit in the womens section? What if there is a woman who wants to go to this minyan and there is a man in her section? Do you think a woman would feel comfortable asking him to leave? I don't think so. Although I am not an advocate for feminism in Judaism, I do believe that woman should go to shul if they can. If there are men in there section I don't know if they would feel comfortable. The next question on this topic is how come many shuls do not have room for women to come during the week. I don't think that this is right. Just like in America you have to be an Equal opportunity Employer the OU and Agudah and all the other magor groups that have affiliate synagogues should have Equal Opportunity DAvening allowing women to come to shul if they want. One of the old shuls I used to daven at before I got married, rearranged the minyan room when they hired a new Rav to allow women to come if they wanted. For 30 + years this didn't exist. I hope shuls will take my suggestion and men should stop davening in the womens section.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Post Succos/Shmini Atzeres/Simchas Torah Questions

Today being the first day after the holidays, there is some time to reflect about the experiences we just had. One observation that I had during Succos occurred during Simcha Beis HaShuevah. For Simcha Beis Hashueve I usually make my rounds around Boro Park and Crown Heights to different Succahs of Rebbes and friends. In all of these neighborhoods there were all kinds of Jews coming together to celebrate. There were Chassidim, Misnagdim, Secular, Modern, all together to celebrate. I think that Succos is unique for that. On the west side of Manhattan you have the same thing on Simchas Torah when all the shuls no matter what the affiliation come together to celebrate Simchas Torah. Hopefully this holiday will be a sign of the unity the Jewish people should have throughout the year to help bring Moshiach closer.

With all of that said, I have my questions. When shopping around for a lulav and esrog, the one thing I noticed is the price difference by the neighborhood you go to. This price difference can be very significant. How come the same esrog in Boro Park can sell for around 500 dollars and in queens for 60 dollars? I think the vendors take advantage of the Chassidim who are willing to spend that much. If you come to Queens no one will spend that much so the vendors no that they cannot charge that amount. Although this is a question do we have a right to criticize what they are charging? After all by them selling the lulav and esrog sets they are allowing us to take part in the Mitzvah. In Europe it was not so easy to get a set so we should be thankful it is so easy now.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Post Yom Kippur Comments and Questions

This Motzei Yom Kippur I did not get sick like last year so that gives me an opportunity now do discuss some observations I had and some questions I had.

First off, I want to say that MOChassid wrote a post here which was very similar to my posts here and here . I guess I am not the only one who is not disensitized to peoples rudeness. Besides the posts I just linked, I would like to add another one to the list of things people do that is rude that I experienced this Yom Kippur.

I knew I might be in some trouble when I saw that sitting in front of me were people who talk occasionally in shul and also don't look before taking three steps back. The way my minyan did the seats was they put a chart of the seats, you emailed them the seat you wanted and they posted it on our minyans web page excluding peoples names. Right before Yom Tov they posted the names and all the seats were taken so there was no way for me to change my seat. So the new thing to add for this Yom Tov along with the other things is being whipped in the face with a tallis. Don't you just love it? It is more important for a person to flip there tallis so its not bothering them then to realize that they are whipping someone in the face with their tzistzis. There is nothing the victim can do because it is always by surprise because you never know when the person is going to flip the talis. I know I have seen it written that is a Halacha that you are not allowed to treat the tallis like this and you have to be careful if you are going to flip your talis.

My next issue is Maariv Motzei Yom Kippur. If you ask someone Jewish trivia and say which are the fastest davenings of the year, a person would answer Shacharis/Musaf on Shavuos and Maariv Yom Kippur. I don't understand in general why people rush through davening but on Motzei Yom Kippur? I understand you are hungry after fasting but a few minutes is not going to make a difference after you were fasting for 25 hours already. One would think that if you concentrated on your davening all of Yom Kippur , this Maariv would be one of your longest of the year. In certain shuls people run out after the shofar blowing and don't even daven Maariv. Some people stay for Maariv but don't stay for Kiddush Levanah. The whole reason why Kiddush Levana is held off until Motzei Yom Kippur is because we want to run to do a mitzvah right after Yom Kippur and this one is very easy to accomplish.

Along with the Maariv topic I am interested to see if anyone has any interesting answers for this question I have that I have never gotten an answer to that satisfies me. How come right after Neilah when we daven Maariv we say Salach Lanu in Shemonei Esrei. Did we really do any aveirah from the shofar blowing until Shemonei Esrei? I don't think that is possible since you can't talk or do anything.

I hope everyone had a good break fast and a meaningful Yom Kippur.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Should obese people get two or three seats?

I know many people might get offended by this post but someone has to say something about this issue already. This issue has come up about airplanes as well as when Guliani was mayor of New York this issue was brought up about subways and busses. Now I want to bring up this issue for Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur in the synagogue.

Depending on the synagogue you attend there is very little space between you and the people next to you on either side. During the High Holidays synagogues all over are usually packed to capacity with very few seats. Because of this, many shuls require you to purchase seats to make sure you have a place for the holidays. This being the case, what if you are one person who needs more than one seat? My last post here spoke about items covering a seat but I did not mention a person covering more than one seat. During Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur you are in Shul for hours and spend most of the day there. Should you have to sit next to an obese person who is on top of you or even on you seat with you? I propose that if you are over a certain size you should have to buy the seats next to you on either side. How can a person concentrate on their davening if someone like this is next to you. Especially if they are sweaty and smelly. I noticed this past Yom Tov the person who was supposed to sit next to me never did because he could not fit into the seat because of the person on the other side of him. Obesity is a problem all by itself in the frum community but an obese person should not make other people suffer. I understand that an obese person might have a disease and cannot help being that way and we should feel bad for people like this but they should also have some respect for everyone else and recognize what their problem is. The non-Jewish community understands this which is why you get ticketed on the NY subway and busses if you take up more than one seat. The major airlines have brought this up as well. I think my proposal should be taken into consideration. If the person cannot afford more than one seat than let someone donate it out of the kindness of their heart. I want to reiterate that I do feel bad for these people but I also want to reiterate that it is important that we are able to concentrate on our tefillahs as well

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Last Post before Rosh Hashana

Since there is not much time left before Rosh Hashana I am not going to be able to post again after this. When I first started my blog, I had a post here about Orthodox organizations being disorganized. I did not receive many comments on that post but now that more people are reading my blog I will get more comments when I relate the following two stories.

The first thing I want to discuss is what happened to me today. When my wife an I were searching for a mortgage we had a few options available. The first one was too go through a Jewish Non For Profit which would give us a discounted mortgage since it would be our first home purchase, Citibank where our bank acount is and another Mortgage company which is an orthodox company. We decided not to use the Jewish Non for Profit because they were going to charge points and it would take much longer to get the loan approved. We did not use Citibank because their rates were a little high at the time. So we decided to use this Orthodox company which will remain nameless because we would get a lower rate and we had a relative who worked their. Why not let a Jewish relative get the commission instead of someone we do not know. After we were approved and got the mortgage closing time came on the apartment. In the closing, we had to wait because the representative from the mortgage showed up extremely late possibly causing a Chilul Hashem because we were dealing with non-Jews with the apartment. After we settled in the new apartment, we were paying the monthly mortgage payments through the statements we recieved in the mail. Unfortunatly we did not receive the statements on a consistent basis but we made the payments anyway. Shortly after, the loan was sold to a different bank who took over the payments. After a few months, this bank raised our monthly payments. Now, after a year of me calling they were able to figure out why they needed to raise my monthly statements. The original Loan company was not sending in my full payments even though I was paying them so the new Bank had to pay the balance when they took over the loan and now I have to pay him back. SO what happened to this money? That is what I am trying to figure out. BEing that the company who is responsible for this error is an Orthodox company I don't expect it to be resolved anytime soon. From now on, instead of going out of my way to give a Jew business I am going to stay away. Every time I think i am helping a Jew out I end up getting screwed and I am tired of it. Why are orthodox Jews so disorganized? They are putting a really bad name for themselves. The second thing that happened was I know someone who wanted to by new furniture so they went to a frum store. The furniture was supposed to be delivered at 3 today but they called this person and said it won't be delivered untill 10!! Things like this don't happen if you use non "HEIMISHE" companies. These are the people who are going to go into Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur thinking that they did nothing wrong. Am I going to get a phone call asking for forgiveness for what these people have done? All the stress they have caused from their disorganization and carelessness? I doubt it. Anyway we are forced to forgive these people even if we don't want to because it is ROsh Hashana and Yom Kippur so rather than forcing myself to forgive these people ever again I will stay far away from them so I have nothing to get angry about.

U/D The furniture came on Friday during the day instead of Thursday at 3:00

Respect in a Shul

One of the things learned growing up is that you don't put a Siddur or Chumash on a seat where you sit becuase it is disrepspectful. With that in mind does the same hold for your Talis and Tefilin bag? There is kedusha towards these items as Mishna Berurah points out that you can not throw these items in the garbage after they were used to hold our talis and tefilin.

With those ideas in your mind, my next question is when people go to shul why do they leave their talis and tefilin bags on a seat in front of them or next to them? What if somone wants to sit there? This morning when I got to shul there was a whole row filled with peoples talis and tefillin bags which meant no one could sit there unless these kind people moved their talis and tefilin bags. Why couldn't these people designated one area and pile these bags on top oof each other? Why do these people feel that they can use up all the space in a small synagogue that they want while at the same time taking space away from someone else? To me, these people are selfish and disrespecting the synagogue which is not a storage facility or a place where someone cannot sit because it is being occupied by someones talis and tefilin bag.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Misnagdim vs Chasidim Part 2

The Rav of my minyan sent out an email today with a brief list of Erev Rosh Hashana Halachos. Of the Halachos he sent, the following caught my attention as it does every year. That halacha is the following :
The Rama cites a custom for men to immerse in the mikva on Erev Rosh HaShanah to spiritually purify themselves in preparation for the Day of Judgment.

The fist thing that bothers me is the following. Misnagdim, mock Chasidim who go to the mikveh on a daily basis or before Shabbos or the other Yom Tovim claiming that we are all Tamei so going to a mikveh is a waste of time when you can be learning instead. If this is true, why do misnagdim make it their business to go before Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur? If you believe you are going to be Tamei during the rest of the year so you don't go, why do you go now?

My next question is price gauging at the mikvehs on Erev Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur. The mikvehs I go to charge anywhere from 1 - 3 dollars during the week and 5 dollars erev shabbos. On Erev Rosh Hashana and Erev Yom Kippur the price can jump anywhere from 10 dollars to 30 dollars. Why does this occur? How does the local Vaad allow this to occur? What if you can't afford it? Yes the mikveh needs to raise money, but women pay a higher price when they go which should cover the costs. These are things that I hope someone can explain to me to help justify these two problems I have.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

DWO Part 2

While going through the weekend addition of the English Hamodia this Shabbos there was an interesting article which I thought should be brought to the attention of anyone who reads my blog. The article can be found in the HAlacha and Hashkafah section by Rabbi Viener and is titles Parking Like a Mentsch.

In my previous post, I spoke about Orthodox not knowing how to drive properly. This article talks about how Orthodox do not how to park properly. Rabbi Viener gives an explanation if you are halachicly allowed to have someones car towed if they are parked and blocking your driveway. In my neighborhood there aren't too many driveways so I am assuming this Rabbi is talking about Brookln or another area where this occurs frequently. The one observation I do have is that whenever someone is in a rush to go to minyan, the will ignore parking rules or park in a bad way. One thing i did notice was a sign in a local yeshiva about the yeshivas neighbors complaining that their driveways were being blocked by people from the yeshiva.

Why does there have to be an article in the newspaper about this issue? Why does the Yeshiva have to post a sign? If you are in a rush for minyan do you think Hashem is going to answer you prayers in that minyan if you are possibly preventing someone else from going by blocking there car? Where is the derech eretz?? Tonight we start selichos and we need to reflect on how we can really do teshuva in a way that will affect ourselves as well as others.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Singing in Shul

I wrote here about my problem with people davening too loud during their Shemonah Esrei and I just wanted to share something else that I have a big problem with.

I like to go to Carlebach minyans and I like to sing in Shul. One of the nice things about singing in shul is that there are a lot of people singing together and you can harmonize with them. In the cover on one of the Reb Shlomo albums he quotes a teaching of Rebbe Nachman saying the following. When two people are talking to each other, they cannot talk at the same time. If they are talking at the same time there would be words flying and no communication. When people sing however, the can sing together in harmony. If more people are singing there would bring more peace and harmony to this world.

With all of that said, there is always your token guy who needs to sing louder than everyone. Not only does this person sing louder than everyone but because they are singing louder than everyone, it is impossible to sing and harmonize with everyone else. Why does this person need to sing louder than everyone else? Does this person think he or she needs to show off their voice so everyone can hear it. Its one thing if the Chazzan is singing louder than everyone but someone else should not be. When everyone is trying to sing together their is that one person who needs to come and ruin everything. Where does this person learn their middos from?

One other thing that frustrates me but doesn't bother me as much is someone stealing your harmony. If you are singing with the minyan and find a nice harmony, the guy sitting next to you hears that harmony and starts singing that harmony louder than you so you can't hear yourself anymore. When singing, there is such a range with peoples vocals that it is not to difficult to harmonize in a different way so why do you have to copy the person next to you and kill thier harmony??

The last thing that sometimes gets me frustrated is Chazzanim that are tone deaf. Why do you need to daven for everyone if you are tone deaf?? Its one thing if someone has a bad voice and they are trying really hard but another thing if you are tone deaf and are davening anyway. I would think that people who are tone deaf know that they are tone deaf. I would also like to say that ironically someone who is tone deaf is usually able to harmonize for a reason I don't know. Since this is the case, sit with everyone else instead of being a Chazzan.

Maybe I am being too harsh but I really feal that davening is something that is special and all care should be taken to make sure it is done properly with the utmost respect. The situations I mention above, I feel come from a lack of respect.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Blowing the Shofar in Elul and on Rosh Hashana

Starting from the first of the month of Elul the Shofar is blown every morning. On Rosh Hashana the Shofar is blown as well a few times during the day with the minimum required amount being thirty blasts.

There are many different Halachos or laws regarding how the Shofar is supposed to be blown and how the sound is supposed to come out. Because of the many different Halachos regarding blowing the Shofar, the one selected to blow the Shofar should be someone who knows all of the Halachos and someone who is a big Talmud Chacham. Similar to the Chazzan on Rosh Hashana the person blowing the Shofar should have certain qualifications regarding their Frumkeit. With all of that said I now come to my questions.

For the past three years, I have davened at a few different Shuls. In all of these shuls I have had issues with the Shofar blowing. In all of these shuls the Shofar blowing took longer than it should have. It took a long time for the Baal Tokiah to get a sound out of the Shofar, and when a sound came out, it was not a clear and crisp sound like it is supposed to be. When hearing the Shofar blown properly the sound is supposed to send a chill through your body reminding you of the holiness of the day and remind you of the fear and awe you should have standing in front of Hashem. For some reason, when the shofar is not blown properly I do not get this feeling.

If I was asked to be a Baal Tokiah and I knew I could not blow the Shofar well, I would not volunteer myself and I would decline. If the person who blows the Shofar is supposed to know all of the Halachos involved, don't you think they should know how to blow the Shofar properly? One shul I went to they even had to replace the Baal Tokia because he could not get a sound. These people obviously are not as Holy as they claim they are if they want to be in the spotlight so badly that they volunteer themselves to blow the Shofar and they can't. Not only do they make themselves look bad, but they make the Rav look bad, the Gabbai look bad as well as taking away much of the spirit of Rosh Hashana. Why does this problem happen so frequently? Why do Rebeeim allow this to happen? Shouldn't the Baal Tokiah practice before? Who checks to make sure they are practicing? Who makes sure they know all the Halachos and can get that crisp clear sound?

Everytime when I learn the Halachos of hearing the Shofar it reminds me of my past Rosh Hashanas and this issue drives me crazy. I am hoping that I won't run into this issue this year since I am once again davening in a different place.

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.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Nine Days Part 2

During the three weeks as well as during the sefirah period there is a custom which is halacha that men should not shave. During sefira there are different customs to when you can not shave and some people hold that it is only during the nine days which you cannot shave. For Sefardim, hair can be cut up until the week of Tisha Bav. One thing that drives me crazy is people who want to act like they are frum, so they will shave or trim to make it look like they are following these laws. Who are they fooling? Either you shave completely (which I don't think Jews should do in general) or you don't shave. You don't go in between to try and fool people. Hashem knows what you are doing as well as everyone around you who can figure out that you are faking. Can someone please explain to me why people do this. Thanks

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Nine Days

There are many questions I have regarding the Halachos and customs for Ashkenazim during the nine days.
The first question I have is regarding showering. During the nine days one is supposed to refrain from bathing and showering because this is considered something relaxing. In the current times would it be acceptable in society if people found out you did not shower for 9 days? I am not sure what most people do in regards to this. I have heard two things where you can get around this Halacha. The first one is to only take cold showers. By taking a cold shower you are not enjoying it doing it only for hygiene. The second way around this is to build up a sweat (working out in a gym) so you would smell which would allow you to shower.
The second question I have is regarding Neginah and music. During the three week period beginning with the 17 of Tammuz and ending on the 10th of Av, one should not listen to music. I can understand this completely because we are supposed to be mourning and music can make someone happy. My question is regarding Shabbos and niggunim which are sung on Shabbos Chazon. It is the custom of many shuls to sing Lcha Dodi to the tune of Keli Tzion which is the last Kinna we recite in the morning of Tisha Bav. If we are supposed to be happy on Shabbos we should not remind ourselves of the nine day mourning period, correct? If so why is that niggun sung to Lcha Dodi? Last year I went to an Agudah minyan which I knew would not sing this niggun for Lcha Dodi. The question can then be asked, every Shabbos Chazon, the Haftorah is read in Eicha trup as well as the word Eicha which appears in the Parshah. I am not sure if every shul does this or only the ones I have been to. Where did these customs come from, and why are we allowed to be mourning on this Shabbos? Are these customs wrong or are they correct? With these questions in mind, I am not sure where to daven this year.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Tehillim for Israel and the Sick

One thing that annoys me more than anything is that whenever I go to minyan at the end someone always has to start saying Shir Haamalos Mimamakim Karasicha Hashem. Why is this? The Rabbis set up a formula so you can say a few things of Tehillim every day and finish the whole book of Tehillim by the end of the month. How come at the end of Shacharis no one says these few chapters followed by their Mi Shebeirach or Acheinu Kol Beis Yisrael? I would think that would be more appropriate. Before Barchu during the Aseres Ymei Teshuva that Shir Hamalos is supposed to be said. I think it has lost its meaning being said at that time since it is now recited a few times every day. I have even been in shuls on Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur where they no longer say this. Is this the reason why? For the situation in Israel there are also designated perakim of Tehillim that could be said but everyone reverts back to the same Shir Hamalos. Can someone start a movement to change things to the way they are supposed to be? I know I walk out instead of saying the shire Hamalos because it has lost all meaning to me including during the Aseres Ymei Tshuva since I hear it way to many times. Maybe someone has some suggestions to help me. I hope that we can all say the proper Tehillim and daven to help our brothers and sisters during these tough times in the holy land

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

After I became more religious, I started to become involved with many Orthodox run organizations. The one question I have about orthodox organizations is why are they so disorganized? After being involved with Conservative and secular organizations become involved with orthodox ones was a complete shock. One example I would like to give is my experience with Youth Programs. When I was in High School I went on a Conservative program to Israel called USY Pilgrimage. I had a great time on this program. The staff was well informed of everything going on at all times, as well as programming always going according to schedule. I had a great time that summer as a camper and would highly recommend USY Pilgrimage to anyone who is affiliated with Conservative Judaism or would have no problem going on a Conservative program. A few years later, as a college student, I decided to staff a similar summer program which was in America. From day one this summer was a disaster. As a staff member, I was never informed of the schedule, there was no one to ask questions to and to top it off there was never enough food for the staff after all the campers took. On USY tours, during the year hotels are visited before they are booked for the summer programs to make sure they are in good locations and to make sure they are nice. On this orthodox program, the hotels were never checked beforehand, and the hotels were never near anyplace we needed to go. The most ridiculous part of this was that we zig-zagged across California instead of starting in the North and working our way south or vice versa. After this summer I compiled a letter detailing all the problems of the summer to bring to the head of this organization. Very little was done to solve these problems and as a result, I will not participate in any Orthodox run youth group because I don't want to be affiliated or responsible for what goes on. Another example I would like to give is the Orthodox Yeshiva. My wife was teaching at an Othodox Yeshiva and after the first few paychecks, there was a sign posted that the paychecks are going to be delayed. My question is why can they do this? Isn't it against halacha to withhold someone's paycheck? Before opening a Yeshiva shouldn't you be aware of the costs of running it? My wife has worked in a Conservative Shul and they never missed a paycheck. I have also worked for a Conservative Shul and never missed a paycheck. Do orthodox people not know what it means to be organized? One last example is when I bought my apartment, I used an Orthodox run Mortgage company, and the Banks lawyer showed up an hour late! I can go on and on about experiences I have has with Orthodox run groups but I am not going to do that since my intent is not to insult Orthodox people. I am just looking for an answer to why this goes on and how Rabbis allow this to go on.

Monday, July 10, 2006

When I was little, whenever I saw a male Orthodox Jew, they always had a large thing of keys attached to their belt. What were these keys for? Someone today suggested to me that maybe they are keys to a yeshiva or shul. If that is the case, why do they need to always have them attached to there belt?
This past Shabbos in shul I experienced a phenomenon that cannot be explained logically. Two people sitting next to me were talkers. I did not choose to sit next to them. These two people come to shul late and sit wherever there are seats still available. During the Torah reading, there was someone reading along with the Baal Koreh on the other side of me and apparently getting these two talkers upset so the decided to SHH him. If you are talking in shul to begin with, who decided that you can choose when people can make noise? What is one supposed to do in a situation like this?

Friday, July 07, 2006

Talking in Shul Part 2

Yesterday when i went to Mincha/Maariv in a certain shul, i started tto question why people go to begin with. The noise level was very high and it seemed like it was a social club. In the middle of Mincha, someone broght over a snapple to someone and they starting to drink it a pour it in cups for a few people. Is this apprpriate for mincha. How come the Rav of the shul who was there does not say anything? Why do people feel it is ok to behave this way in a shul during davening?

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Talking In Shul

One of the things i never understood is why people talk in shul. If you go into a church or another religions place of worship, it is always silent. I was at the Mets Yankees game Sunday night and I met a person from the same neighborhood as me and he asked me what shul I attended. I gave him the name of the shul and told him it was a no talking shul and he said thats how it should be and started to laugh. If people know that you are not supposed to talk in shul, why do they continue to do so? I just don't get it. The whole reason why you go to shul is to daven. While i am on the subject of davening in shul the other thing that drives me crazy is seforim in shul. In the middle of recited krias shma, somone also has a sefer infront of him learning. Is it possible to learn and daven at the same time? If so i would like to know how. I sometimes feel that people do this so they can feel that they are more frum then you. I would like to hear what other people think about these topics and i would hope that i am not the only one who feels this way.
Frum With Questions

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Frum With Questoins Starts Now

After reading blogs for a while and because my wife has two, I decided to finally get into the blogging life by creating my own. The reason why this blog is called Frum With Questions is because that is who I am. Growing up in a non religious conservative household I grew up going to a conservative shul and going to their Hebrew school until my Bar Mitzvah. When I was in high school, I became active in USY and NCSY which led me and my parents to attend shul more often. Eventually towards the end of high school and when i went off the college, I became a complete Torah observant jew. Now that I have becaome a Torah observant Jew, I see many things that I question. Because I learned everything later in life, it is easy for me to learn and practice what I learn. After i learn things i see the overall people in the Torah Observant community do not follow these things. Because of this I have questions and that is what this blog is about.