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.