Montefiore Windmill

From the Diaries of Sir Moses and Lady Montefiore:

The Montefiore's pilgrimage trip to Eretz Israel, 1827:

[When they arrived in Jerusalem, Mr. and Mrs. Montefiore] repaired to the home of Mr. Joseph Amzalak [a Portuguese Jew], while the [non-Jewish] men who accompanied them took up their quarters in the Greek convent.

The Montefiores subsequently went to see the Western Wall. During their absence, the Governor sent to say that he expected Mr. Montefiore to come and take coffee, and that he regretted that Mr. Montefiore should have gone to [stay with] the Jews: if he did not like going to the convent, he would have given him a house in the city.

Mr. Montefiore, on hearing the message, said "I hope I shall ever live and die in the society of my brethren of Israel!"


Heartland Proud!

While other members of the RRRR have been making the news recently, this one takes the cake.
Here's to the Minister of Agriculture - spiritual healer!

Roadtrip to Omaha, anyone?



I've always wondered what we mean when we say the words "Ayeh Makom Kevodo" - "Where is the place of His glory?" in Kedusha on Shabbos.

According to Rebbe Nachman, "Kevodo Malei Olam" and "Ayeh makom kevodo" are two ways of perceiving God's presence:

"Ayeh makom kevodo - Where is the place of His Glory?" indicates God’s utter transcendence; "M’lo kol ha’aretz kevodo - The entire earth is full of His Glory," indicates God’s immanence.

This is certainly true. But I thought of another possibility as well. R David Fohrman explains the difference between "Eiphoh" and "Ayeh". Both words mean "where". But as we know, the Torah would not have two words with same exact meaning; what is the subtle difference between the two words?

"Eiphoh" is used when you want to know, literally, where something is. "Eiphoh haSherutim?" - where is the bathroom?

But "Ayeh" is not about where something is, literally. Its used for rhetorical purposes - when the questioner is posing a challenge. For example, when a father asks his 4 year old son, who has cookie crumbs all over his mouth - "Where did the cookies go!?" - the father know exactly where the cookies are. He is challenging his child; the cookies should still be here!

When God asked Kayin, after he had murdered Hevel, "אֵי הֶבֶל אָחִיךָ" - where is Hevel your brother? - God is challenging Kayin. God knows exactly where Hevel is! God is challenging Kayin; why is Hevel not here!

This is how we can understand "Ayeh Makom Kevodo." We know where God is - God is everywhere, and He is also beyond, just as Rebbe Nachman said. But the angels are asking, and we are asking along with them - where are you, God? Why are you not here yet, in all of your glory?! We need you! Reveal yourself in all your glory!


A Hazy Picture?

The Piacetzner Rebbe, in his Hachsharas Avreichim, quotes Rav Avraham Azulai (grandfather of the Chida) as saying:

When one is learning the Torah of his Rebbe, he should picture, in his mind, the face of his Rebbe, and in that way attach himself to his Rebbe's soul. This is what Rabbi Abba would do when trying to decipher the teachings of his master, Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai; envisioning his Rebbe's face enabled him to better understand his Rebbe's teachings.

We of the RRRR, scattered as we are over the 4 corners of the world, can go weeks and months without seeing Rebbe face to face. Rebbe has given us some eitzah on this matter, but the long separations can nevertheless be disheartening. And not only disheartening - time away from Rebbe always seems to lead to some level of unclarity, be it in learning or otherwise.
So how about this: when times get tough, when Rebbe's life teachings all of a sudden no longer seem to make sense, don't just stare at a picture of Rebbe for inspiration (though this is certainly a level). Because in the end, that picture is simply one Jew's portrayal of Rebbe at one particular moment in time, from his perspective. Instead, recreate a vivid mental image of Rebbe in your own mind. You can picture Rebbe saying over a shem mishmuel while peeling a banana, or you can imagine once again that you are on the beaches of Nahariya with Rebbe, battling the waves of fury. And through this holy exercise, you can reconnect to Rebbe's soul, and to the clarity that comes with such connection.
The hazy pictures of the mind may not be so hazy after all.


March Madness

Check out Shashgaz, aka Zakein Mamrei, aka me, on the news. Yes, the news.

Pesach Preparation

Click to hear this clip from the Rebbe Reichman Ruach Revival Band featuring Chaim Dovid. Be sure to congratulate Shashgaz on his congo solo.

Minyan Man

Nine men are waiting to pray. They may be the greatest tzaddikim. But being nine they are still short of the required minyan for prayer. They are forbidden to utter a single word of the communal prayers.

All of a sudden some totally insignificant man comes in from the streets. Whoever he may be, he is joined to them. They are ten. Now they can recite the Kedusha.

No sooner than they are finished, this same individual makes his escape and goes back to the streets. But the words of holiness which were uttered before can now never be erased.
(Reb Nosson of Breslov)


Official Hippo of the Revolution?

This baby hippo needs a home fast - or the Nazi enabling Swiss will euthanize it. See here for details.

From my perspective as Defense Minister, I see tremendous possibilities. Imagine storming the beis medrish on the back of a 6,000 pound hippo! The possibilities are endless...

Purim in Merryland


Preperations for Next Purim Begin

Only 354 days until next Purim...may we be zoche to the shefah of lemon, honey, and hot water flow through klal yisrael (and our collective throats).
Gut Moed (I didn't hear no bell)....

Purim Teaching (2)

The first time we called Rebbe on Purim, Rebbe understood that we were not yet ready to speak with him. Rebbe handed the phone to one of the junior talmidim, who mumbled something about the cardinals and Achashveirosh. We hung up the phone.

A few hours later, we were ready, at least on some level, to hear Rebbe's teaching.

Rebbe explained the well known line in Tehillim:

אֶשָּׂא עֵינַי אֶל-הֶהָרִים מֵאַיִן יָבֹא עֶזְרִי

I will lift up my eyes to the mountains. From where does my help come?

Rebbe explained that we should read the pasuk differently than as translated above. "מֵאַיִן" does not mean "From where." Rather, "מֵאַיִן" means that specifically when one is in a place of "אַיִן", when he is in a very low place, to the point where he feels that he is nothing - that is when he will see "יָבֹא עֶזְרִי."



Shashgaz Shomer haNashim

ABC / RRRR Seudah Recap

Purim Teaching (I)

While the women of the revolution cleaned up, as the in-laws of the revolution lay prostrate on the bathroom floor, and as R Michael Shapiro's Yedid Nefesh played softly in the living room, the Rochester Jew arrived. Over a plate of beans, hamburger and onion rings, he told the following story:

As a resident in a nearby hospital, the Rochester Jew spends many hours with patients of various nationalities. Recently, he checked in on a Cuban patient who was suffering from a great illness.

The Cuban asked the Rochester Jew - "what nationality are you? What are you?" The Rochester Jew replied, "I am a Jew."

"Thats good," said the Cuban. "Jews have Beitzim.*"

*translation deemed necessary for the youthful members of the RRRR


Good Purim Story

Please Read at your Seudas, with focus and intensity. And hopefully some musical accompaniment and yayin. Good Purim to all!!!

"Good Purim, Rebbe," the meek voice said. But it was lost between the flint-grey beard and the moth-eaten scarf.

The Koznitzer Maggid, the great Chassidic leader, looked up from his Purim celebration.

"Was that a breeze I felt?" he said. "Did someone open a window?"

"Good Purim, Rebbe," the man said again, scarcely a decibel louder. The Maggid looked around. Standing there in a tattered, oversized coat, a battered black hat, with two pitiful eyes staring out from beneath, stood Pinchas the Shlepper, the Maggid's most destitute Chassid. He was the town porter and local doormat. People could wipe their feet on him and not even notice.

"Good Purim, Pinchas!" the Maggid cried. "Well, did you bring me m'shalach monot, - a Purim package?" Pinchas looked down at his cracking shoes. He did not have food to feed his own family. How could he bring the Maggid a gift?

"Pinchas!" the Rebbe shouted. "How long will you remain a shlepper? It's Purim today. V'nahaphachu! Everything turns over! Go and stand at the head of the table." Pinchas moved over obediently. "Now, in your loudest voice," the Maggid said, "wish me a good Purim."

"Good Purim," he repeated. Some mice in the corner squeaked in response.

"Not like that. Louder, Pinchas!"

"Good Purim!"

"Louder, Pinchas!" The Rebbe's Chassidim sitting around the Purim table joined in with words of encouragement.

"GOOD PURIM! GOOD PURIM!" After about a half-hour of trying, Pinchas let out a string of really inspired "Good Purims." The Rebbe's eyes lit up.

"Now, Pinchas. Go out and bring me m'shalach monot. And I want you to wish "Good Purim" to every person you meet."

Pinchas strode down the town's main street. "Good Purim," he called to everyone he met. "GOOD PURIM!" The townspeople were dumbstruck. "Was that Pinchas the Shlepper?" they asked.

Pinchas marched into the shop of the local wine merchant. "Good Purim, Reb Shmuel!" he said. "Give me three bottles of your best wine and I will pay you tomorrow, and if not, well it's Purim today!" Reb Shmuel was shocked, but he seized the opportunity to perform a mitzvah and ran to the wine shelf, as his bewildered wife looked on.

From there, Pinchas went to the bakery. "Good Purim, Reb Meir! Give me five cakes and five loaves of bread and I will pay you tomorrow, and if not, well, it's Purim today!" Again, he was met with the same enthusiastic response. Pinchas quickly ran back to the Maggid's home to present him with his m'shalach monos -- cake and wine. "Good Purim, Rebbe!" he cried, as he ran back out again for his family. The butcher, the tailor, the cobbler -- Pinchas wished each one of them a special Good Purim.

Several hours later, in their little shack at the edge of town, Pinchas the Shlepper's family heard several sharp kicks at the front door, which then burst open. Framed in the doorway was a man completely obscured by an armload of packages, except for his shiny new shoes, neatly pressed trousers and the top of a new felt hat -- their father!

"GOOD PURIM, CHILDREN!" he shouted. His wife stared at him as if in a dream. Pinchas went over to her. "My dear, I have been a terrible husband and have made you and the children suffer for years. I promise that from now on things will be different. But first, set the table, it's Purim today!" The table was quickly set -- a meal fit for a king. "But children, before we begin…" Pinchas lined them up in front of the table. "Wish your father a Good Purim."

"Good Purim, Tatte."

"No, not like that. Louder!"

"Good Purim, Tatte!"

"No, louder!"

Across the town, the Koznitzer Maggid leaned back in his chair, closed his eyes and smiled. "Sha, Sha!" the Chassidim all cried. "The Rebbe sees something. What is it Rebbe? Tell us."

"Right now," he replied, "Pinchas the Shlepper is teaching his whole family to say Good Purim, and all the angels in Heaven are listening with joy."

From that Purim on, Pinchas's life changed. His new found confidence inspired others, who lent him money and started him in business. After many years, he became quite wealthy, and his home became a refuge for all the troubled and needy people in the area. His life was spent helping others and all who knocked on his door found endless encouragement in his hearty and heartfelt welcome.

It's a bird, it's a plane, it's Rebbe-Man


If I am I because I am I, and you are you because you are you, then I am I and you are you. But if I am I because you are you, and you are you because I am I, then I am not I, and you are not you. (Rav Simcha Bunim)

Tear off the masks!

Shushan Purim with Rebbe

Somewhere in the recesses of Zakein Mamrei's video archive, forever etched into the hearts of the revolution faithful is a video of Rebbe's Shushan Purim Seudah in the bookstore building. There has perhaps never been a starker contrast on the streets of amsterdam ave. (unless of course you count the time I danced with Rav Willig dressed as a crack baby surrounded by a sea of MYP guys). There we were all in one place a small band of displaced souls at YU crammed into a stuffy fourth floor apt. in the bookstore building. While many scurried to classes below and scarfed down two slices and a drink before shiur, we thought of how the jews in shushan continued their fight after battles everywhere else had died down and as our brethren in walled cities around the world sat down to their purim feast, we too sat down to erect a wall of our own. You see sometimes a wall is needed to protect you from negative energy, as betzalel correctly told moshe first the mishkan then the aron and keilim. You know the saddest thing in the world is when you know in your heart that you must build an impenetrable wall, and that you must conceal yourself with your comrades lest you succumb to the beast that is lurking. There we sat awaiting our leader trumpets blared, shofars were blasted, and there were certainly a few who found themselves staring wide eyed as we sang pesach tunes. And as the afternoon turned to evening and our Rebbe bid us farewell leaving us to wound and maim each other in our drunkenness, we understood our mission with great clarity. We were tasked with growing trees without boxes to confine them. To sit on benches and bring life to wisdom.


Fair Lawn RRRR Purim Seudah

All Jews are welcome at the RRRR Court of Kings Purim Seudah in Fair Lawn (48 Kingsland Court, Fair Lawn, NJ ).

Entrance fee: 100 Amalekite Foreskins and an aversion to spiritual coldness.

BYOW - Bring your own weapon for the battle (times are tight, and the Defense Ministry no longer has spare weaponry lying around).


Queen Esther, Revolutionary

The Gemara tells us that the essence of Esther is “וְאָנֹכִי, הַסְתֵּר אַסְתִּיר פָּנַי” – that G-d will hide His face from us.

But Esther also means something else. We say in Tehillim 27 (L’Dovid Hashem Ori) an amazing line: “ אַל-תַּסְתֵּר פָּנֶיךָ מִמֶּנִּי” – G-d, do not hide your face from me! I will not accept your hiddenness! We may live in a world of darkness, but I will not be at peace with it!

And this is also the essence of Esther’s name – אֶסְתֵּר = אֶ + סְתֵּר. Esther = אַל-תַּסְתֵּר– do not hide from me!

Esther’s challenge is to experience hester panim, G-d’s hiddenness – “וְאָנֹכִי, הַסְתֵּר אַסְתִּיר פָּנַי” - but then to revolt against it! “ אַל-תַּסְתֵּר פָּנֶיךָ מִמֶּנִּי” - Father in heaven, do not hide; show me your face! Save your people!


Who is a Jew?

In "The Rav Speaks", Rav Soloveitchik explains:

"Heroism means to fight even when the chances of victory are slim, when reason advises capitulation because logically the battle seems lost. Heroism implies doing the paradoxical, the absurd...

If you ask me, who is a Jew, I would answer, one who lives a life of heroism. In my eyes, a Jew is one who is ready to live heroically, to be always in the minority, to be able to fight against himself and his own cold logic."

While we are taking back the shuls and schools, lets take back the Rav from those who claim he was a cold intellectual!


Daughters of the Revolution

In the final days before the Messiah arrives, righteous women will outnumber the men...