who is currently in the hospital after complications during delivery.
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.
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....
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?)
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...
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?
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?
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
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
Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel
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!.
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
Just got off the phone with ADMOR. Among other things, Rebbe mentioned that a new niggun was composed. You can check it on 613.org or naaleh.com. It's special for the upcoming challah-day.
I miss Rebbe so much. Maybe I'll charter a greyhound from Chicago to bring the mishpacha.
As always, there is a room for you in Chi-Town.
Reb Jeremy had a Motzai Shabbos sit down with Rebbe for a rare glimpse into Rebbe's health and fitness regimen, and suggestions for proper health and nutrition. For the video, click the link below. Thanks Rebbe!
Video of Rebbe Reichman discussing proper health and nutrition
The Halacha states that it is the pressure of the knife which brings out the taste, and sharpness which makes the food absorb.
Many times we have thoughts and feelings of greatness which lie dormant within our hearts and minds. We need something to renew these thoughts. We need a "knife," whose movement back and forth, which reminds us, Razto Vashov, whether running or returning, whether we feel like life in moving forward, or we're moving backwards, Hashem loves us and wants us to be Jews in whatever situation we find ourselves in. We need a Davar Charif to open our hearts, sharp thought, or vort to renew our thoughts, feelings and yearnings for Kedusha.
We warmed things up with the decanting of several bottles of yayin and the ceremonial roasting of a portion of meat. BergMD used his torch to light the candles scattered throughout the apartment. Yitz Shady tuned up our instruments, and we began playing and singing a new Yitz Shady joint set to drop soon on Itunes with the working title "Baruch Ata Hashem" (feat. Danimal). We were soon joined by Cave dweller Basil, Maharuthie, and Professor Lichtenstein, and got things moving with a rousing chorus of Canaan Land which the Frymans told us they could hear from the street. We were clearly off to a good start. At some point during this portion of the seuda, teleconferences were held with Rabbi Machine Gun Fodder at the UMaryland Hillel, and Rabbi Akiva Ben Canaan and the choir of the school-children of the Young Israel of Staten Island (aka Staten "Lion"). On a stop-over on his way from a conference in Vienna to a conference in Finland, highly regarded Professor Benny Von Bennyboy Refa (nee Sgan) Kohanim (Ph.D in Wii Tennis from the University of Heidelberg, currently doing post-graduate work in "creative uses of the Front Guy") was still riding the high from the celebration of his bar mitzvah earlier in the day, at which he lit thirteen candles to celebrate the occasion.
And then a startling, almost shocking thing happened.
In response to last-minute, random text messages and voicemails (in addition to the shining of the Rebbe symbol into the clear night sky from the roof of the Bennett building), on his way from Medzibuzh to Wolffson to Breslov, Rebbe Reichman's purim caravan was able to make a stop at our seuda. Some local residents were recruited to keep the horses well fed with oats, bananas and oranges, and to keep the revolutionary chariot oiled and ready to fight the Amalekites and snags (and any overlap between the two categories), while Rebbe graced us with his presence. After sweeping the apartment for bugs, and being given the "all clear" by Rebbe's advance revolutionary guard detail, we ushered Rebbe into the seuda to a rousing 20 minute (ie- abbreviated) version of the RRRR Victory Niggun, in all three of its glorious parts (the third part having been revealed to Rebbe years after the first two parts). Rebbe promptly took the helm, led us in song, shared some very special purim related teachings, and offered his bracha that we should all meet very soon at the eastern gate of the holy third temple for a meat (korban) breakfast at 10 am, in 30 years from now. All felt touched by his presence. Rebbe's special guest, Rabbi G______ (if you remember his name, please post it in comments), told of his experiences with Reb Shlomo on the Moshav, and drew comparisons between the concepts of Shushan and Shoshan. As shabbos was about to begin, we prayed Kabbalat Shabbat, and also, at Rebbe's request, shook the (already shaky) Bennett building with a 30-40 minute version of Reb Shlomo's harachaman, and the niggun nevo, with YD, Yitz Shady, Chef Lasher and Danimal on guitar, and Bennyboy on Ukelele. As Bennyboy was celebrating his bar mitzvah, lechaim's were made in his honor, and a ceremonial bar mitzvah pen was gifted to him. Dr. Mark the Spark offered brilliant and meandering kabbalistic truths which bypassed the brain and went straight into the heart via the carotid artery. Herr Professor Butler proceeded to (literally) telephone every Michael Shapiro in the phone book in an ambitious and bold effort to cut through the red tape and finally track down the increasingly elusive, little known god of 1970's- 1980's jewish folk music, Michael Shapiro. Herr Prof. Butler's opening line on the telephone: (uttered with a mixture of childlike excitement and fearful trembling) "is this the home of the spiritual master and guru named Michael Shapiro? May we speak with him? May we wish him a good purim?", may not have been the best way to accomplish this goal.
We knew we had attained new levels when Willie, our holy superintendent, breached our first line of defenses (a row of sandbags placed ten meters from the door), and even got past our sentry (BergMD, who, appropriately, due to the high concentration of "high value" revolutionary targets, kept the door chained and bolted at all times). Holy Super Willie told us the ceiling of the apartment under us was caving in, and we must stop our jumping. With renewed zeal and vigor we (politely) sent Willie on his way and continued our seuda as before. Sporadic shouts of "good purim" and "Rebbe Reichman" could be heard throughout the walled city of Washington Heights, from the 34th Precinct (admittedly, a building which several members of the RRRR have had occassion to visit on Purim in years past) all the way to the fine cheese section of Frank's Marketplace. From Cabrini to Amsterdam, from Maitland to Lark Street, from Liget's piet a terre on the French Riviera to Liget's underground "coffee import" plant in the jungles of Nicaragua, shouts of "good purim" could be heard by the populace.
We give thanks to Hashem, and to Rebbe Reichman, and to Rabbi G_______, and to a very holy cast of characters, all friends and associates of the revolution, and several (perhaps unwitting) recruits to the revolution's growing sisterhood. A very partial list of those who made our seuda special: Godfather Dash, Maharuthie, Basil the cave dweller, Yitz Shady, Mark the Spark and Treelana Kurzman, BergMD, Dassi the Rocket Scientist, Type Bee Rivkie, Chad, Elie, Ariela, Guru YB, and many many others we may not have had the mental clarity to make note of.
May the energy of this year's purim take us through to next year's purim in health, happiness, joy, and success in all of our revolutionary endeavours. And may we slay many Amalekites along the way.
A major feature of the Orthodox Union’s Heshe and Harriet Seif Jewish Learning Initiative on Campus program—which is found on 15 major campuses in the United States and Canada, including the University of Maryland in College Park—is Friday night Shabbos dinner, in which the young rabbi and his wife who run the program (the Torah Educators, as they are known), invite students to share their table and Shabbat joy with them. This happens week after week, throughout the academic year. At Maryland, Rabbi Eli and Naomi Kohl open their doors to their students. In the following report, Naomi explains how it is done – and what the benefits are, to the students and to the Kohl family.
To make a great Shabbos meal you need three cups of energy, a spoonful of spirit, and a teaspoon of love. Monday morning in the Hillel dining hall is when we begin our weekly preparations. Between a chavrusa (a one-on-one student session) and a casual shmooze with a student, I keep a watchful eye as I mentally prepare an invitation list. If I don’t strike quickly an upperclassmen may extend an invitation and it may be months before that particular student may grace our Shabbat table. The University of Maryland is home to more than 400 Orthodox students and we try to have them all over for a meal, at some point during their college experience.
Friday is when the games begin. I hustle twenty minutes to Silver Spring, drop my two-year-old son, Yisrael, off at school and then proceed to the kosher establishments in town, to procure my ingredients. After purchasing these goodies I hurry back to College Park to begin cooking. My husband watches our six-month-old baby girl, Shira, while I slice, dice and mash the ingredients, occasionally with the assistance of a helpful student. Many Fridays it seems like I won’t beat the clock, but I always end up finishing just before the buzzer sounds. I breathe a sigh a of relief when I light the Shabbos candles, as my husband goes off to shul for four hours for davening, learning and the famed Hillel social hour.
The Magic Number:
Eli returns home with 12-15 students, the magic number. This ensures that our group is small enough to fit around our table and that we can all participate in one conversation. There are always one or two more students than originally expected, due to my husband’s over-inviting disorder, which Hakodosh Baruch Hu (the Holy One, Blessed Be He) matched nicely, with my over-cooking disorder. The avirah (atmosphere) is a very homey experience—that is what the students smell, taste and feel when they come over.
They are greeted from outside by our son, who is patiently waiting by the window for his “friends” to come over. Many students are looking for a home away from home and we feel privileged to help provide that during their college years. During these years students are making many crucial life decisions. They are asking themselves, “Who will I marry and how will that shape my future; what will my home look like; what will my Shabbat and religious experiences be when I am an adult?” Perhaps this is why we view the Shabbat experience with students as the most important interaction we will have with them.
By modeling a Jewish home that has a mezuzah, Shabbos candles and Jewish books, filling our Shabbos table with song, soup, and spirituality, we hope to inspire students to continue to strive towards a lifestyle infused with Torah values and meanings. We feel responsible to model a Jewish family for students, as we may be a reference point for future relationships they may have. To foster a sense of family we invite groups of students who are friendly with each other. If they are comfortable with each other, they will feel more at ease in our home. As friends they may already know each other well, yet we feel it is important to have our trademark parsha-themed ice breakers. They serve as a way of infusing the table with Torah, in a non- threatening way, and give the students an opportunity to say what’s on their minds.
Students are always afraid that when they go to their “rabbi’s house” they will be grilled on the parsha and their lives. Our approach is a way to break down those barriers and to connect the Torah to their lives. For example: on Parshat Miketz with Yosef’s dreams, we would ask, what’s a crazy dream you once had, or what are your dreams and aspirations; on Lech Lecha, their trials and tribulations.
While fish, soup and salad satiate some, there is not a hungry soul at the table when the meat, chicken and deli roll are done. The conversations vary as do the crowds—some want to talk about pop culture, social networks, high school stories or Israel adventures; others like to hear the rabbi’s philosophical views on a slew of geopolitical issues and old war stories from his childhood in Brooklyn; while others like to read our children their favorite stories on the couch. Many students offer their help to serve the food; what I most enjoy is the opportunity it provides to have one-on-one conversations with students I rarely have the time for during the week.
It’s Oneg Time!
As the meal seems to be winding down, we hear a knock at the door and are greeted with a burst of energy. Once a month, 60 or more additional students battle the elements to get a taste of our Friday night cholent and desserts as well as an unbeatable dose of spirituality which carries into the week. Students come from all across the country to be a part of the incredible community that exists at Maryland. Many are from Baltimore and Silver Spring but just as many come from New York, New Jersey, Florida, Chicago, California, Atlanta and more. Our onegs often begin as hip hop music is blaring from the fraternity house next door. As many as 100 Jewish souls may combat those tunes with niggunim of our own, and the fragrant scent of Oneg Shabbos suppresses the aromatic fragrances that are often found on a college campus.
For many students, we are able to provide this oasis that they crave and reawaken a slumbering spirit that may have become stagnant from the mounds of school work. Our onegs are sprinkled with inspiring stories and thoughts as many of our students are eager to share their thoughts with each other, and to encourage their peers to continue striving towards goals they may have set for themselves as they were leaving for their year in Israel. We try to pause these moments to remind ourselves why exactly we moved to the middle of a college campus, but as we embrace the last of our students close to 1:00 am and receive our final thank you, we are sure there is no place we would rather be than at the University of Maryland!