Sunday, July 29, 2007

"Fair weather" friends...

Due to my trip last week, I missed a "major" headline...

According to this week's edition of the Jewish Week, Matisyahu is no longer on the Chabad-Lubavitch bandwagon. Naturally, chaos ensues.
Several people, like Chaim, express clear concerns as to where this may be headed, in terms of Matis's spot in the public eye, considering his rise to stardom in so short a time. Chaim is the first to admit that he was a huge fan of Matis, and that he no longer feels comfortable identifying with that status. THat's cool, it's understandable, and it's extremely honest of him.

However, Rabbi Levi Brackman writes a particularily nasty piece on this story on his blog. R. Brackman - whom I've never heard of until today - vilifies Matisyahu, basically equating the fact that Matis may be distancing himself from his point of origin in the religious world with the probability that he may shirk his religious beliefs altogether.
He continues to compare Matis to other "jewish, secular singers" and states that Matis no longer reflects jewish spirituality.

Now, I understand where many folks are coming from, to a degree. A year ago, when Matis suddenly broke ranks with JDub Records, simultaneously breaching his contract and turning his back on the friends who'd gotten him his start, I was very worried. Mainly, I was concerned with how this would be viewed out there in the world. The possibilty of Chillul HaShem when a frum Jew is out there in the spotlight is magnified a hundredfold, at least. I was also, naturally, concerned about Matis's well being, in a spiritual sense.
Was it possible that that was hinting at a deeper problem? Was Matis's rise too fast, and too much all at once? I didn't know, but I'd hoped not. The weight of responsibilty being a frum Jew, coupled with what I'd imagine to be an intense touring schedule, seemed to be a very dangerous thing, indeed.
Thankfully, I believe that the overall Kiddush HaShem outweighed that earlier incident. It made only a marginal splash in the news, and lasted for less than a few days.
Now, I hear yet another "scandal" involving Matis. And I must be honest: I don't see the huge deal.
So, he no longer believes that he identifies with Lubavitch? Okay. So what? I know several people who have become religious through Chabad's help. Without Chabad, who knows where they would be today? But some of them eventually felt that they no longer identified with what Chabad represented or had intended for them, and they left.
They are all still very religious, and some of them may even tell you that they are better for leaving.
Everyone continues to grow. Just because you're moving away from something doesn't necessarily mean that the direction is downward.
We have an expectation of Matisyahu that is unfair, in many respects. He is a baal Teshuva, and a relatively fresh one, at that. And yet ( and I realize that in part, he has brought it on himself, by virtue of the fact that he is representing something larger than he...), we expect him to be saintly, holding him to standards we wouldn't hold of ourselves.

Anonym00kie recently posted about judging people. How we don't realize what is going on in other's lives, and how, if we'd take a moment to relate, to understand, to help, we'd all be in a better place.

Can any of us really relate to Matis? As Rabbi Brackman writes himself: while Matis appeared to be this amazing saint, he was 100% behind him, encouraging kids to listen to him, etc. The moment we get a peek at his ( Matisyahu's) humanity, though, we see that people expect the worst. No one, not even Matis or his managers or agents, ever said he was perfect. I realize that in the spotlight, one has to be so careful, and like I said, I agree. However, I'm growing tired of all these fair weather fans.
I haven't seen Matis get arrested for possesion of drugs. He hasn't been in any tabloids. I pray that he won't, of course, but until something really bad happens, I'm gonna support him.
He's trying to be a warrior, just like the rest of us. Let's give him a chance...

Note: This post was an immediate response after reading Y-Love's post on Jewschool. I quickly read all the posted links, and was very hasty in jumping on Rabbi Brackman's back. After the initial reaction, I went back and read Rabbi B.'s post. His post isn't all that nasty, considering. I still disagree with him, though I apologize if I made him seem like a jerk...

Friday, July 27, 2007

Road Trip...

I just got home last night, after a long day of driving. The trip took me about eight hours or so, and was uneventful, thank God.
Oh yeah, there was this one thing, though...

I killed a beaver.

I was driving on the 80 West, and I had just passed the sign that tells you that you're at the highest point on the 80, east of the Mississippi. I was going at about 85 MPH, and I see this black thing in the middle of the road. I tried to swerve, but it darted forward, straight under my jeep.
I think it wanted to die.

I went pulled over and ran back to see what it was I had hit. I had never seen a real beaver before. Technically, I didn't yesterday, either. I only saw half of it...

Monday, July 23, 2007

Rivers of Babylon 2007

This is a little sad, but I think it's appropos for the times.
I've been worrying about this for a long time. How can we properly mourn? How can we actually bring ourselves to tears, when most of us think we have it all?

I feel
in the face
of my own

I'd gladly
fill my
with the
bitter taste of
if it would show me
what it is
that we're missing

I try to
move myself
shake myself from this haze
at this point
dissociation from my
point of view
would be welcome...

Am I apathetic?
Or should I just
drop the "A"?
But in these times
I do not
I can not
possibly know
how to

When we think
we have
how can we
honestly realize
we have nothing?

This is my
funeral dirge.
Not just for the
of the past
but for the
in the

Sunday, July 22, 2007


I don't even know how to feel, or what to say.

I decided quite some time ago to keep the specific contents ( i.e. conversations and other potentially private details) of my dating to myself; to that end, I don't even tell my folks what went on during a date past the bare minimum.

I guess when it gets back to me that a girl who I dated several times repeated certain parts of our conversations, I feel hurt. Especially when it's made out to look like I'm some sort of creep, and the events that are being told didn't even happen the way they're being said over...

The worst part is that I really liked this girl. She was so cool, and even though it didn't work out between us, I still wished her the best.

I just feel like a fool now...

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

New idea...

It's bein hazmanim here, but I'm sort of in limbo right now, as I still haven't made any definitive plans.
So far, I've been waking at the crack of noon every day and lazing around, for the most part.
Still, all this extra time gives me an opportunity to really let my mind go; take it's leash off, so to speak.
Yesterday, I had this amazing thought...
Years ago - when I was about sixteen, seventeen - a friend and I agreed to be each other's Porn Buddies. A Porn Buddy, basically, is a person that you can implicitly trust with the knowledge of the whereabouts of your stash of porn, or whatever contraband you may have hidden away in your personal spaces.
The idea is that in the event of one's untimely death ( i.e. before he's been able to get all his affairs in order), the other Porn Buddy will go to the deceased's house and remove and destroy any compromising material that may cause shame to the deceased's survivors, or the deceased himself. It's more or less a damage control plan, in a worst case scenario...

Any paraphenalia that I had is gone now, but this idea stuck with me.

The Porn Buddy setup is a good idea, startegically, but it's defensive. What if, I thought, we can use this concept for a better purpose?

Ever seen a movie or read a book where two characters have a fight, and then one suddenly dies? Then, the survivor goes through the rest of his life lacking closure due to the fact that their last words were harsh? "I never got the chance to tell him how I felt..." and so on.
My idea - and I started on it today - is to write a personal letter to everyone I feel it necessary. My folks, my siblings, certain friends, and certain teachers. In it, I would be as honest as possible, telling them truthfully how I feel, and that in case they ever, ever, had doubt, they should know what they mean to me.
In case - God forbid - I die early, or suddenly, a trusted friend ( a Porn Buddy, of sorts ) who'd been holding onto these letters would immediately send them out to the addressees, and this way, they'd know - even if I'd never expressed it in so many words - how much I love and appreciate them.
Sometimes it's too hard to actually say it; we need distance. Pen and paper provide a certain safety, and it lasts a long time...

Friday, July 13, 2007

Is ignorance really bliss...?

Sometimes I wonder.
God willing, I'll be returning to the Holy Land for Succos, which is just around the corner.
My parents already made tickets for theselves, but they left mine for me to make, in an effort to accomodate my plans for being in Yeshiva for Yom Kippur.
I called up my travel agent, who's known me since I was a little boy; she was my Kindergarten teacher.
She's a sweet little lady, married to a very learned man, which reflects on her own stature. She's a very frum woman, completely unassuming.
For example: when discussing possible flight plans, she apologized at one point for not being able to get me a flight that connect through Amsterdam. Puzzled, because I know what goes on in that city - made famous by their legalization of recreational drugs and prostitution - I asked her why.
"Well," she replies, "I know a lot of Yeshiva boys like to go there and tour, because it's such a nice city..."

I'm not surprised at all that guys actually go there; there was a time when I would've given my eyeteeth for one day in that place.
But after hanging up with her, it made me think.
Wouldn't life be a little bit simpler if I wasn't as knowledgable as I am?
This woman, who is a great person, isn't necessarily the most wordly person out there. Case in point, right? But she seems so happy, so content with her life, her little sphere of reality.
And I? Sometimes I think that my exposure has left me open to cynicism. As if I know too much about things that I shouldn't, and that it's much harder not to be critical of some things...

Tuesday, July 10, 2007


Thing have been really hectic the past couple of days, but rest assured, I'll bring you all up to date soon. Until then, you can enjoy this. It's really fresh...

How long
will it take
for us to
each other?

Are you near me
almost under my nose
or are there oceans
vast and deep
literally and figuratively
between us?

Have we met?
Have we seen
each other
not knowing
but deriving pleasure
from the thrill
of that possibility?

How will we know?

By something
you ( I )
A gesture, a comment
I ( you )

Can you imagine how
it will be?
How we will
one another

How I will be
your strength
constant and consistent

And you
will complete me
cloaking my prose
with your melody
Poetry e-motion...

Do you yearn
as I yearn
are you tired of waiting
as I am?

I thought so...

See you soon...

Thursday, July 5, 2007


This is why I love pictures. The Dreamer just posted a beautiful poem on her blog about the Holy Land, causing me to miss it terribly. Reenforcing that gaping hole of lonelyness I feel whenever I hear mention of Eretz Yisroel.
So, I went to my files and started going through pictures I had taken from my last time in the Holy Land...

This is Mount Meron, taken from atop the hill that leads down to the cemetary in the holy city of Tzfat ( my second favorite place in the world)...

This is a picture of the gravesite of R' Shlomo Alkabetz. R' Shlomo was one of the greatest Kabbalists ever, and he is the author of the song L'Cha Dodi...

This is the gravesite of the original Radziner Rebbe, who many believe brought back the mesorah of Techeiles ( myself included )...That's my shadow, by the way...

This next pic is from a stunning Erev Shabbos spent on the beach in Netanya. I wrote about that day a while ago, but it's in the archives...

This is at a wedding that I went to in Bayit V'Gan. It was a very special simcha; the Chassan was a friend of mine from way back. I had literally seen him in all stages of his path, from being religious to being completely not, then back and becoming so strong in his faith. At the wedding, my buddies from Simply Tzfat rocked out...

Most of my pics have myself or friends in them, so I can't really post them. However, these pics are a consolation, that even if I can't be there now, I know we'll all return soon, with God's help. Until then, these reminders of great times, inspiring times, holy times, can tide me over...

Monday, July 2, 2007

Oh, man...

Why isn't it enough to say "I don't think it's gonna happen"?
I need to have some sort of dissertation as to the how's and why's I don't think a particular shidduch will work?
How do you articulate a vibe?
How do you explain that from the get go, you feel this need to suppress yourself, and that that's not healthy at all?

Shidduchim really suck sometimes...