11/10/14

Hilula for R' Shlomo Carlebach - TONIGHT RUBIN SHUL!  10:30! 

6/29/11

Our humble attempt to combat the forces of half shabbos http://www.jewishtimes.com/index.php/jewishtimes/news/jt/local_news/a_college_park_shabbat/168

Making half shabbos into full shabbos

When reading the half Shabbos article I was reminded of an episode that happened when I was at YU. There were a bunch of MYP guys who were caught cheating on finals and it came to the attention of the Roshei Yeshivah that there was a lot of cheating going on by MYP guys. A kol korei was signed by most of the roshei yeshivah declaring that if you see somebody cheating you are obligated to report the offender. I remember coming into shiur and Rebbe Reichman went on to tell us that he had refused to sign the letter. He explained his rationale for resisting the peer pressure. He said we need to get to the root of the problem. By responding in this fashion we are cutting off one branch and another will grow in its place, rather then uprooting the entire tree. He felt that we are prohibiting cheating but permitting slander, while not addressing the real problem which is that there is no yiras shomayim. His answer was to double the dosage of Rabbi Cohn's burning mussar in the freezing snow. When reading the half shabbos article I felt the same way. Rather then figure out how to blot out texting on shabbos by teens, we have to figure out how can we give them a full shabbos experience? when high school and college students are keeping half shabbos it's because they have never been presented with a full shabbos. Presenting full shabbos is the only way to get rid of half shabbos! But who to present it? How can we as parents , educators, rabbis, mentors give an experience that we ourselves don't possess? Kids pick up on everything and can smell it a mile a way! We occupy a barren half shabbos wasteland where as rav shlomo says if the queen of England were to walk into a shul and hear kabbalat shabbos she would ask "Is this an advertisement for coca cola"? When the sanctuary is devoid of divine inspiration what should a young soul do to satisfy the double dose of kedusha that they need to fill the black hole? When they are not taught to converse with Hashem in their own words they will seek that intimate connection with another. The conversation around the shabbos table focuses around pop culture, mortgages, the latest frum white collar criminal and the style of rabbi's wife's sheital, how then can our teens who's souls are hungry for spiritual satiation be held accountable for conducting their own versions of the shabbos table conversation on their mobile devices? After all this is what shabbos is all about?! It is a miracle that many still associate with the "orthodox community" when They are taught that the way to fill their void is through kiddush club, kugel and a snooze during the rabbi's amazingly boring speech. To see these products who have been vaccinated in the day schools inspires nothing short of despair. Perhaps the most perplexing and inspiring part of it all is seeing them come back for more. Like a battered puppy these spiritually deprived youngsters believe that the only place that they can hope to find the answers, get the love that they need, and satiate their divine spark is through a Torah community, and lifestyle. communally and as individuals we need to contemplate how we can begin to offer our youth the full shabbos experience that they so desperately crave.

12/7/10

Please say tehillim for Rebbe's Daughter

Batya Shira bat Chasida

who is currently in the hospital after complications during delivery.

11/17/10


I was listning to some talk radio regarding these new body scanners that the TSA is using at airports and it got me thinking. What if they could create an authenticity scanner. They could be set up outside of yeshivas and shuls and everybody would have to pass through them before and after they went to davening or to learn? And imagine if it could be programmed in such a way as to convey the area in your life you were not being quite authentic about. It would give contructive feedback like "you are not as pious as you are putting on, Warning! you are an egomaniac masquarading as an anav. May actually be a good resource for those rabbis trying to combat kiddush clubs.

11/8/10

The Vaccine


Last year I was talking with a Jew from the Holy Land. He was lamenting to me how a generation of kids have all been vaccinated in the day school system. The conversation was short and I began to think. What were we all vaccinated against? How was the vaccine administered to us? And what if I was immune to the vaccine? Perhaps that's what always made me different than the rest of the kids....

9/20/10

Comrades


Long before the revolution was formed
our rebbe had a plan he set into motion
he plucked the most displaced souls off benches and out of study halls
gave them ruach and revived their slumbering spirits

He uncovered the grandeur that existed in each one
made them aware of their strengths and tasked them with creating a small ray of light in a sea of darkness
he surely knew the bond that would be formed
and understood that the hidden thief would have to cause their dispersion
lest they bring life to wisdom

each it appeared was driven out to the great abyss
one on a mound of maneur, another into the world of untruths
some were sent to gather sparks from the valentines day massacre and a comrade was even sent to become a corn husker

Yet it is clear to the one who can see with great depth
that our rebbe was behind this great dispersion
he executed it
without much exertion

He meant to have esteemed rabbis,westerners, and commoners as students
and have them execute his will without much direction
yet one thing he may not have anticipated is the haze of the galus
rebbe did you anticipate it?
how could such a pure soul anticipate the blur?

But alas I digress in my heresy
and am sure that my rebbe is thinking of me?
Oh certain I am this was part of the plan
But who can shed light on the great reunion planned?(purim 5771?)

9/7/10

Conveying the Message

Sometimes I think the selichot were introduced in order to give us one last chance to connect to hashem through words. The rabbis kind of say here are a lot of words the wordiest ones there are. We say them with fervor and diligence. I have heard in the name of rav yoel, that on rosh hashana we say "hashem I can't express how I feel about you in words. I've been trying all year and it just isn't working. But listen to this sound of the shofar and you'll know exactly how I feel. You see this carrot, fish head, beets, celery and raisin, this is what I have been trying to say to you all along.

9/5/10

SIghtings Past and Future

Shanah Tovah to all. As we are preparing for Rosh Hashanah here in Omaha, the Omaha Jewish Press decided to expose some RRRR to the community. I hope the RRRR chevra will followup on these articles by coming to visit in person (either incognito or as an emissary).





Kesiva ve-Chasima Tovah

8/31/10

Getting Serious...


Last night, one of the holy chevra in the shul came over to me and said: "Rabbi, I can tell that with the high holy days coming, you're finally getting serious. You're much better when you're serious!"

I told him that of course I'm getting serious: Yom Kippur is Yom K'Purim, and if there is ever a time to get serious, it's now...

8/24/10

Insane in the membrane



You know the Rebbe Nachman story where there is a propet who tells everyone that if they eat the wheat they will go insane. Nobody believes him except one family. They realize that they can't survive without eating a little bit of wheat, and besides if they refrain from eating wheat then everybody will think that they are insane. So they eat but make a marking on their forheads so they will be insane but at least it will be a conscious insanity. Well What happens if everybody eats it and nobody makes a sign, Who would be around to tell us the story?

8/17/10




You never quite know how you got there until you're in it. One minute you were cruising along enjoying the breeze and then all of a sudden you're waist deep in it. You put the pedal to the floor thinking you can muscle your way out of it but that just gets you stuck even deeper. Guilt sets in , how could this happen to me? Then despair I will never get out of this gunk. The mind races what did I do to to deserve this fate? The occasional passerby offers to throw you a line but it will do little good as they can't appreciate the hole you are in. An old parable from AA comes to mind as your i phone battery is drained and the hours stretch on without a response from triple a. There was once a boy who was stuck in a hole. A priest walked by and he yelled help me father I am stuck in a hole! The father threw him a cross but he was still stuck in the hole. A rabbi then walked by and He yelled for help from him, the rabbi tossed him a bible but little good that did. Then a recovering addict heard his yell for help and jumped into the hole with him. The boy looked at him and asked what good will that do now we are both stuck? The recovering addict responded but I have been in the hole and I know how to get out. But what does one do if they have lost the strength to scream out for help? What if our calls for help go unanswered?

7/9/10

Snuffy and Koach Hadimyon



Perhaps the most complex character I've come across is snuffy. As Paul Simon says a man he hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest (Or in Bigbird's case see). While we all know that snuffy is not real to big bird he is as real as it gets. Big Bird understands that seeing is not believing and that the imagination is what inspires us to create. It is then fitting that Snuffy is a mammoth of a character and it is precisely his largess that leads many of the sesame faithful baffled. In our lives there are times when we just can't relate or understand what is real and what is just an imaginary friend. The struggle that big bird faces is of tantamount importance to the human condition. He can capitulate to the dictum's of society and denounce his beloved snuffy as a childhood mirage, or dig deep inside his bird being, flying in the face of his com padres and internalize the reality that he knows to be truth.
A special shout out to my comrade in arms reb reuven for the teaching

7/8/10

God Follows Me Everywhere

God follows me everywhere-

spins a net of glances around me

shines upon my sightless back like a sun.

God follows me like a forest everywhere.

My lips, always amazed, are truly numb, dumb,

like a child who blunders upon an ancient holy place.

God follows me like a shiver everywhere.

My desire is for rest; the demand within me is: Rise up,

See how prophetic visions are scattered in the streets.

I go with my reveries as with a secret

in a long corridor thought the world-

and sometimes I glimpse high above me, the faceless face of God.

God follows me in tramways, in cafes.

Oh, it is only with the back of the pupils of one’s eyes that

one can see

how secrets ripen, how visions come to be.

Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel

7/7/10

Oscar the snag


Last summer I had the grand idea to buy a season pass to sesame place. It lasts through this summer as well and little did I realize the great chinuch oppurtunity I would have when making my frequent visits this summer. Although I must admit I am more perplexed by each day I frequent the "street" I have been able to impart many a life lesson to the boy with each trip we make. I will start with my most recent trip.

I always knew that Oscar the Grouch was a snag hiding out in his garbage can "im yisaser ish bamistarim vani lo erenu neum hashem" the prsyzcha says g-d says to the person who resideds in his can thinking he is accomplishing his life mission by pouring over a talmud that does not enlighten his soul. G-d says i will not look at him. Oscar lives in a world of darkness. He has become so institutionalized in his can and any simchas hachaim has been stripped from him as he has had the can and its lid molded to his head. He sings how he loves trash. He percieves his learning as something so grand and idealizes his empty puruit while we on the outside looking in pity his hypocrisy. His professes how he is sad when he is happy and gets joy from being sad. Powerful stuff!.

6/6/10

Need

My powerful shudders speak to me about You.

Feelings within me wildly arouse prayer…

And I do not know, I do not understand how to call you.

The danger of unconscious longing

Frightens me. Cramped feelings in a narrow space

I choke from not-knowing. Save me – a word!

Rabbi Dr. Abraham Joshua Heschel, "Need", 1930