Thursday, June 27, 2013

Torah Thought Thursday

Row, row, row your boat...

Oh, hi.

Short thought because I have stuff to do, but never too much stuff not to spend some time on Torah :-)

So, talking to a mentor last night, he told me this intriguing nice thought which, while perhaps isn't "officially" Torah, has helped me reconsider some things and reprioritize my daily activities.

He said that when he was in third grade his rebbi said that life is like a box of choc.... no no... Life is like rowing. You have two oars and they both need to work in tandem in order to get where you're going. One oar is your spiritual needs and the other is your physical needs. Focusing only on one will send your rowboat spinning in circles and not actually be going anywhere.

While it's great to row a single oar really hard, you won't get very far unless the other one is rowing equally hard.

He was telling me that while in one area it could be that I was excelling, if I was sacrificing, or not doing well in the other, then I haven't actually done very much for myself. In the short term, possibly i've accomplished something, if even that, but definitely not in the long term.

Food for thought as we all continue to try and grow in our service to Hashem as well as maintain a healthy, balanced and successful lifestyle.

Good Shabbos.

(This post was intended more for me to put down what he said in words than to publicly advise others on their avodas Hashem. It was, as I said above, intriguing, and I thought I'd share it.)

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Weird Words Wednesday

Oh, me and my alliteration....

Being that it's the three weeks and music is a no-no, I thought it would be fun to have something take its place. Maybe I'll make it a regular feature- that I haven't decided yet.

Snood. Not a weird word, you're thinking. Of course it is! The context that we, Jews, use it in, it turns out, is exactly the opposite of the way in which it was originally used.

We use the word snood as a word for a head covering for a married woman. It's usually a shapeless sort of bag made of material that fits comfortably on one's head. The closest thing I can think of that non-Jews wear are those things that Jamaica guys wear, uh, a Rasta Head Wrap I believe it's called. Unmarried women wearing a similar sort of covering will use, in my experience, the "proper" term for the word, whatever it may be.

It meant: "ribbon for the hair" in Old English and's definition is: The distinctive headband formerly worn by young unmarried women in Scotland and northern England. The origins of the word snood is Old English! Who knew?! I didn't even think it was English! (Shows how much I know, huh?)

So, while Orthodox Jews use it exclusively in the context of married women, the origin is actually in the context of unmarried women.


PS. I'm way behind in commenting on all of your posts and I'm sorry about that. I want to, I really do, I've just been really busy with all other sorts of fun, not-as-fun, and the in-between kind of, stuff. Rest assured, I will get to them all one day!

Monday, June 24, 2013

In Class with Turtles

Open Scene

Teacher (with enthusiasm): Ok, class, who would like to hear a hashgacha pratis story?

Class (except for Shmuel, as one): Meeee!!!

Teacher: Shmuel?

Shmuel: Me!

Teacher: When you’re in a store with your Mommy and there’s a long line, do you like it?

Class (except for Shmuel, as one): Noooo!!!

Teacher: Shmuel?

Shmuel: Guess not.

Teacher: Neither do I. Remember class, we can learn a very beautiful middah to have, patience, by waiting in line, but that’s not what this story is about.

Teacher: Today’s story is about me looking for high and low for a treat for my children, one of my own favorite treats, and not being able to find them.

Teacher: Who likes treats?

Class (as one): Meeeeeeeeee!!!!!

Teacher: I should talk more about treats, right class? Even Shmuel answered! (Winks at Shmuel)

Class (except for Shmuel, as one, laughs): We love Shmuel!

Shmuel (smiles): My mommy says she loves me too!

Teacher (smiling): We all love you Shmuel.

Teacher: Back to the story. As I was saying, I was looking for this candy in every store I went to. They’re called Turtles. They are little chocolate candies, with caramel inside. They’re delicious and my favorite candy.

Teacher: Who likes turtles, the animal?

Teacher: Dovid, do you like turtles?

Dovid: Nah, not so much. I like lions! Roaaaarrrr!!

Teacher (laughs): Thank you for that demonstration Dovid.

Teacher: How about you, Chaya? Do you like turtles?

Chaya: Actually, I have a turtle in my house! It’s so pretty! He doesn’t like being picked though (pouts)

Teacher: That’s so interesting. Thank you for sharing Chaya. Maybe your mother will let you bring him to Show and Tell one day! What’s his name?

Chaya: Squirt! And ok, I’ll ask! It’s my older brother’s though, so I don’t know…

Teacher: Hm, ok. How about you Avi? Do you like turtles?

Avi: I love turtles! They’re my favorite animal ever! I really really really want one, but my mother doesn’t let. She said when I move out of the house, 500 miles away, I can get one. (Hmphs)

Teacher (laughing): I’d say the same thing to my children, Avi. But one day you’ll be able to get one.

Teacher: Anyway, back to the story. So I walked into a big store to buy some errands. After I got everything I needed, I went to stand in line. The line was so big, I was standing at the end of one of the aisles!

Teacher (excited): As I was waiting, I looked around at all the candy that was in the aisles, and I saw it! Turtles!! The candy I had been looking for, in every store but this one, was in front of my eyes! Hashem wanted me to wait all the way at the back of the line so I could find the candy I was looking for.

Teacher: So you see class, sometimes being at the end of the line is a good thing! Everything Hashem does for us is for the good, and while we may not always see it, there’s always something good for us at the end of it. In this case, Turtles.

Teacher: Was that a good story?

Class (except for Shmuel, as one): Ya!!!

Teacher: Shmuel?

Shmuel: Ya. Can we have Turtles?

Teacher and class, as one, laughs.

Teacher: Yes, Shmuel, yes you can. (hands out candy)

Teacher: Now let's sing the hashgacha pratis song!

End Scene

(I took some creative license here by making Turtles Cholov Yisroel- not sure any kindergarten would serve anything that’s not Cholov Yisroel.)

In case you were wondering, the waiting in the back of the line that had me at the end of a aisle and seeing Turtles actually did happen today. The rest was my enjoyable way of saying over the story :-)

Friday, June 21, 2013

Torah Thought Thursday

This is going to be in points because... just because :-)

  • A rabbi (I was told the name, but I forgot- the details of the story are hazy, sorry. I'll try and get them tomorrow and update.) had a dream and was told to give the Vilna Goan "Shalom Mishamayim."- Shalom from Heaven. When he asked why he should tell the Gaon this he was told that it was because the Gaon said "Amitah shel Torah" a Complete Truth of Torah thought. The rabbi asked why he should be the one to give the message. He was told it was because he had said Amitah shel Torah.
  • The Gaon, in one of his seforim, actually has written on the side that he received Shalom from this Rabbi. Because of the reason given above. Wow.
  • The rabbi's son asked him what the Amitah shel Torah. The rabbi said as follows: At the end of this week's parsha, Parshas Balak, the last Passuk in the Parsha says: וַיִּהְיוּ, הַמֵּתִים בַּמַּגֵּפָה--אַרְבָּעָה וְעֶשְׂרִים, אָלֶף. And there were those that died in the plague-- 24,000. The Trop (cantillation) mark under the word בַּמַּגֵּפָה is a pause.
  • Why? By Korach, when the Torah says Korach and his men died, did not have this sort of punctuation? 
  • So, this rabbi's thought was that, the Torah was telling us something. 
  • There are two different ways someone can die- at their time or not at their time. 
  • The ones who died in the time of Korah, were exclusively those who were involved with Korah and that whole story.
  • The 24,000 who died here, were not only those who were punished for their actions, but those who, even if not for this event, would have died, because it was their time. 
  • So Hashem showed mercy this time around. 24,000 had to die, but who those 24,000 people consisted of was different than those involved with Korach. 
  • So now the passuk reads really nicely. There were those that died in the plague. 24,000. Those who died in the plague didn't necessarily die because of the plague, but in it. 
I hope that made sense. I'll try and fix it up, but it's something :-)

Have a great Shabbos!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Tasteful Tunes Tuesday

So, last week's edition was a huge hit, and I thank you all for your comments! Wondering Minds would insist I put ~ on each side, so:

~So, last week's edition was a huge hit, and I thank you all for your comments!~ (~ means sarcasm for those who don't follow his blog- you should, by the way) :-D

This week's choice wasn't chosen for any particular quality of the song or video, but it's a good introduction to my new blog. The song is one of my favorite songs ever, but that's more due to the melody than the lyrics of the song. But the name of the song, and the lyrics of the song, are a prayer, and that's what my new blog is all about. 

It's called My Thoughts on Davening (creative, I know). It won't be a blog where I'm writing lengthy posts or anything like that, but very, and I mean very, short snippets of thoughts I learn, think of, hear or come across about davening. Many of them probably won't be new to you, but if I think I can gain by writing it down, it'll make its way on there. 

I won't be concerned about formatting, and most of the posts will probably be done from my phone, so ya. 

As always, enjoy!

The lyrics can be found here.


I have an Android smart phone, and on my home screen, I have the widget. Every day there's a "word of the day" and I try to pay attention to what it is to expand my repertoire of words. Often I''m already familiar with the word, but there have been plenty of words that I've never come across, or wasn't sure of the exact definition. Thanks to, I now know them.

When I saw Sunday's word, I was very amused. It's not only a word that every single one of you know, but it's also a word that (I'd venture to say) 99.5% of Americans do not know.

The full definition is: an entire family network comprising relatives by blood and marriage and sometimes including close friends; clan.

I found it very funny that mishpocha, of all Hebrew words, made its way into the English dictionary. But, eh, whatever.

What I found more amusing is that they made a mistake. See, they give the source as being Yiddish. As we all know, it's not.

So I sent an email that informed them of their egregious error. Of course, I wanted to source it for them, so I found an online Hebrew text of the Torah, and searched through it trying to find Mishpocha, or, משפחֹה. I did, but it took until Devarim for me to find it in that conjugation! Devarim 27:19 if I recall correctly...? There are plenty of other conjugations, but it took until Devarim for משפחֹה by itself to appear. And it only appears once in that form!

Anyway, that's my random post of the day. Hope you enjoyed :-)

Friday, June 14, 2013

Torah Thought Thursday- Late

This is a few hours late, as it's Thursday no more, so the topic will be in a similar vein.

On Shavuos morning, I was learning with an old friend of mine from my Israel days, and he said something which surprised me and inspired me.

Move on.

Two words, which have really improved, not only how I serve Hashem, but how I live my life.

The context was with regards to moving on from sinning. I sin. It happens. I'm not happy about it, and it bothers me whenever I do, but I sin. (When it rains it pours, it seems, as the floodgates of admitting to embarrassing things seems to have been not just been pin-holed, but shattered.)

Doing an aveirah bothered me sometimes so much, that I wouldn't do something I should have done, or did something I shouldn't have done, because I was so affected by what I had done.

The way he does things, and the way that I now do things, is simple. Look up to the Heavens, say "I'm really sorry Hashem. I'll try my hardest not to do it again," and forget about it. Just like that. Forget about it. Continue to work on whatever area it is that you're weak in, perhaps write in a little notebook of things to clap al cheit for on Yom Kippur, and move on.

The Yetzer Hara is the wiliest of characters. It's not enough for him to get you to do a sin. It's not enough for him to get you to do a sin and then feel so bad about it that you can't even enjoy it. He'll go so far that after you've done the sin, feel so bad about it that you can't enjoy it, he'll make you feel so bad that you'll feel that you shouldn't do another Mitzvah, or that you should do another aveirah. Giving credit where credit is due, the Yetzer Hara is good at what he does.

Because the Yetzer Hara is so good, we mere mortals need to come up with ways of outsmarting him. For example, saying to yourself that you'll do the aveirah...but in 5 minutes, is one way of fighting him. Moving on is another. Forget about things you've done in the past, and don't let them affect the present.

It's a difficult task. "I just did THIS!! How can I just forget about it?!" Just do it. Move on. Push it out of your mind.

It's worked for me. It hasn't been easy, but I've managed to employ this tactic as a way of not letting something I've done in the past affect my service to Hashem in the moment.

The Yetzer Hara tried this on me before I sat down to write this Torah Thought. "Um, you know, it's not Thursday anymore, Lost and Found? Have you lost track of days again?" Snicker. "Remember, you thought it was Wednesday twice in a row a few weeks ago? Today's Friday. You can't post Torah Thought Thursday on a Friday!" He almost had me too. But I remembered my "Moving on" tactic and here I am, employing it. You're right, it is Friday, but YOU know what, Yetzer Hara? Torah is Torah is Torah. I may be late, and that may be my fault, but I'm going to do it anyway.

Win! :)

Have a beautiful and restful Shabbos!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Tasteful Tunes Tuesday- Sax

One plus of today's poorly arranged music is that  it allows for others to improve on it. This can be done in many different ways and many of them are really awesome.

Here's an example of a beautiful song that's been arranged differently where the original artist could take a clue or two on how he should have arranged his song to begin with.

The drums, for example, are more jazz-like, in tune with sax being a jazz instrument. The original song has a jazz sound to it but the drums... aren't. Odd.

The guitar also, is jazzier, and has a stilted rhythm to it. For this song, it's perfect. There's more going on there, and it's brilliant. In the original, it's more pop-like: simple and very repetitive. In this song it's given some complexity and a subtlety that's lacking in the original.

The piano in the original is more apparent than in this cover version. What the guitar did in the original, the piano does in this song. It's not supposed to be all that obvious here because, well, it's a sax cover. Any cover that's about one instrument always affects the others. I prefer the piano in the original a bit more, but that's what covers do, so no complaints.

So here you have it. A sax cover of Maroon 5's This Love.


When I wrote this, I hadn't been watching the video and completely forgot that it was a Jewish band playing at a Jewish wedding. If I had realized, the focus of this post may have been about my thoughts about playing secular music at a Jewish wedding. Small favors that you didn't have to read a rant.

By posting this video, I am not condoning the practice of playing secular music at Jewish weddings.

Monday, June 10, 2013

"No Title"

What's wrong?
I beat myself up
Every waking hour
Every sleeping hour
Stuck in my craw
Eating at my insides

I made a mistake
So what?
You make them!
Everyone makes them
Why is this one different?

What's happening?
I suffer
Don't eat
Don't sleep
Don't enjoy

What kind of mistake?
A small one
Or was it
A big one
It wasn't!

Just stop!
I'm thinking about it
Dwelling on it
Harping on it
Feeding it

Move on!
I want to
Bottle it up
Throw it away
Away from me

So, do it
I can't 
Can't you see that?
I don't know why
I don't know how

Help me! 
I can't 
Do it yourself
You don't need me
I'll only get in your way

This one time
It's on you
Your mistake
You fix it

You've done it before
Not anymore 
Not for this
It's your turn
To fight for yourself

I'll do it
That's the spirit
You can do it
You will do it
You will succeed

How do you know?
You've always done it
I've never done anything
You thought it was me
It was you

Why are you telling me this now?
It's time for me to go
You must move on
From me, your crutch

Goodbye now
I can't
I need you

Please don't go
I've done all I can do 
Given you the means
To battle your own mind
To win all your battles

You're more than that
I am but a piece of you
I had a time and place
No longer
No more

Don't go
Where are you?
Come back!
Please, come back

Please, come back
Come back
Come back!

It's gone
I'm alone now
Can I do it?
Will I do it?
How will I do it?

You'll do it
I will
I don't know how
But I will

This piece charted its course entirely on its own. The original title was "Failure" but reading it back, it's about precisely the opposite. The other intended theme, not being able to move on, also seemed to have turned on its head and turned into a theme of moving on. 

I'm really not sure what this is about...


Thursday, June 6, 2013

Torah Thought Thursday- Greater than You

I've decided to add another installment to my blog, Torah Thought Thursday (I can't get alliteration out of my head!) to bring some Torah to my blog. I have posts waiting in the wings that are topics in halacha, but there's no straight up Torah, and this blog definitely calls for some of that. So, I hope, hope, to post a thought every Thursday. Some weeks will be on the parsha, some on davening, and some on whatever pops into my head. The only feature of it that will be uniform is that it will be short. (My definition of short is that the gist of it can be said over in less than 2 minutes)


איזה הוא חכם? הלומד מכל אדם. Who is wise? One who learns from every human being. This is an incredible thought- one of my favorites in Pirkei Avos- and it's something I try to keep in mind when meeting new people or just seeing people around. I've learned a lot about myself and discovered qualities that I would like to acquire and hone by thinking about this. 

I was talking to an associate (not the right word, but there isn't really a good one out there to describe our relationship) the other night, and she said "[everyone] deserve(s) to be respected."

At the time, I agreed, recalled and mentioned that the Igeres HaRamban says that, and we moved on shortly thereafter.

What she said stuck in my head though, and it's been sitting in my head processing ever since.

From what I understand of the Igeres HaRamban (a letter that was written by the Ramban to his son), he takes the idea of learning something from everyone a step further. 

The words of the Igeres HaRamban: וכל אדם יהיה גדול ממך בעיניך. Consider everyone as greater than yourself. 

I've read those words dozens of time in my life, and they've sunk in, but never did I have an epiphany like the one I had this time. 

Consider. Everyone. As. Greater. Than. Yourself. 

Pardon me for a moment. WHAAAAAATTTTTT???!!!!!!!!!!!!

I mean, WOW! 

It's amazing for someone to be able to learn something from everyone (what not to do, what to do, negative character traits that can be utilized in a positive way, etc.), but considering everyone greater than yourself? My goodness. 

The Ramban is saying that criminals, lowlifes, people with no midos, etc. etc. etc. should be perceived by us as being greater. The classic example is Esav. There's an entire section of Ishei HaTanach (Encyclopedia of Biblical Personalities) that discusses Esav's wickedness. But, there's also an entire section of how he honored his father, Yitzchak. Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel said that no man ever honored his father the way he did, but he found that Esav honored his father even more than him. 

In that, we can find a way to regard Esav as being greater than us, even with all of his faults and sins. 

I've written in the past about not judging others because we don't know what they've been through or what they've experienced. But I've learned something. It's not a matter of not judging people. Nor is it about or not respecting them. It's infinitely more than that. We have to think that they're greater than us! 

That's an incredible idea and has forced me over the past few days to really reconsider my friendships, relationships and how I treat others. 

It's hard to be disgusted by someone's actions and still think that they're greater than me, but I remembered something else in the Igeres HaRamban: שׁאם הוא חוטא הוא שוגג ואתה מזיד- If he sins, it is the result of error, while your transgression is deliberate. 

That says it all.

Now, it's not so hard to think someone's greater than me.

PS. There's so much more that can be said on this- that I want to say on this- but I did say I'd keep it short. If you want to hear more on this topic, let me know in the comments or shoot me an email :)

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Tasteful Tunes Tuesday

Some music videos, in my mind, contain content that can be worse than kol isha.

Because of movies I've watched, and music videos I've seen, I've become desensitized to seeing women in bikinis. But while watching the music video for this song, I wondered how certain friends would react to having the video played for them. The disgust and horror of being exposed to non-tznius women.

I find that sort of sensitivity to be beautiful. I envy it. In today's culture, where exposed bodies are everywhere, finding people who are still affected by it, is special.

I wish I still had that sensitivity. Now, it takes the thought of posting such a video for an audience to have me thinking about it. That's unfortunate.

With that said, I'm posting a lyric video of this song.

It's a Spanish/Portuguese song, which is rarely to my taste, but this particular one I really like. It has a really solid beat and sends my lips into subconscious movement. Listening to this song while working, I came back to Planet Earth to find myself standing and dancing.

So ya, when listening to this, pay attention to what your body tries to do to you.

And as always, enjoy!


On my 10 minute break here at 5:06 am. I've been up all night working. I will be up the rest of the night working. I will then be up all day... working.

It's crazy, but this is one of the times that I'm happy about it. A ton of work to be done, and a time that it has to be done by. That time happens to be 6 weeks away, but the project is so large that it necessitates all-nighters even at the beginning of the project.

Being a project manager of multiple simultaneously running projects is a lot of fun, but it's also a huge responsibility.

I promised here that I'd post honestly- and whatever I want- even though some people do know who I am, so here goes. Responsibilities of this size scare me. They scare the bejeezus out of me. Thoughts like: "What if I don't do it perfectly?" and "What if I don't finish it in time?" and "What if the client doesn't like it?" It's scary to me. Worse, it literally cripples me.

People have suggested to me various ways of dealing with this, but none have worked. The only tried and true way to get me into gear is a kick. (Break's over- I'll be back.)

7:55 am, I'm back. As I was saying, only a kick really does it. As in, someone or other lets me know that it's time to crack down and on with it. Otherwise, I'll somehow find something else to do. I'll read, watch the occasional movie (ok, maybe more than occasional), watch sports (even teams that I only have a passing interest in), etc. Pretty much anything but work.

It's horrible. If it were only procrastination and I'd get the work done by the deadline then it wouldn't be thaaat bad. But I have let deadlines pass.

Troubling, to say the least.

What really drives me crazy is that once I start, the fear vanishes and I can polish off the project quickly and efficiently. It's just the start that freaks me out. The start, or a different stage of the project.

Anyway, not sure why I'm writing this or what I hope to gain by posting it. Well, I do. I feel like I'm "coming out" by admitting a fault of mine. It's difficult to admit faults that will change peoples' perception of me. But the internet me, to date, has been about only a few aspects of the real me. I'm going to try to treat this blog, to some extent, as a diary of who I am and what I face. To a really small extent probably. But I'll give it a go.

Back to work.

PS. I can't believe I'm going to post this.