Monday, December 31, 2007

Second guessing...

My good friend Karma Dude is a volunteer Hatzoloh/EMS. He's got all the training, goes on calls, etc. This past Shabbos (to be precise, Friday night) he was woken up in the middle of the night by a frantic neighbor of his. His neighbor has a little boy (about 7 years old now), and several years ago, the kid had a brain tumor. Thankfully, the kid got better, but this Friday night, the kid had been acting erratic, had gone to sleep very early, and they couldn't wake him up.

Karma Dude went running over there. Finally, they were able to wake the boy, and KD checked his temperature, his heart beat, and determined that the kid was dehydrated. After they gave him (the kid, not KD) several cups of water, KD had to make a judgement call. On the one hand, it could be nothing, just a side effect of the fever. On the other hand, it could bely something more serious, given the kid's medical history, etc., and warrant a visit to the hospital.

In any event, KD advised the parents to continue checking up on the kid, and if anything happened, they should call Hatzoloh (i.e. the ones who are on call on Shabbos) to go to the hospital.

Karma Dude went home afterwards, and couldn't sleep for the rest of the night. He kept second guessing himself.

What if...

This happens so often, in every aspect of life. We make a decision, and we're final about it. But, then we're haunted by this nagging voice, a voice that makes us reconsider everything.

It's everywhere. In shidduchim, in where you'll live, which direction to take to get somewhere, etc. Sometimes, we never get rid of that feeling, even when in the depths of our heart, we know we did the right thing.

In fifteen minutes, it'll be my English birthday. I don't know if I'm wiser, but I do recognize that I've made many decisions this year, many choices. Where to go for yeshiva, whether or not to continue learning in yeshiva, dating decisions. Thankfully, I can say that, with God's help, I believe I have made the right decisions on almost all accounts this past year.

I want to bless all my readers, all Jews in the world, heck, everybody (and myself) that we should continue on this great journey, making our decisions with the conviction and fortitude that we all have deep within us...

Oh yeah, and Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Shameless plug...

My good friend Shmuel Nelson (of Eden MiQedem. I had an interview with him awhile back. For a recap, or if you've never seen it here, click here.)contacted me a few weeks ago, with a request to advertise for an upcoming show of his. Naturally, I agreed.

Here's the info:

Night of World Fusion at the Knitting Factory with "Eden Mi Qedem", "Atlas Soul", and members of "Zikrayat"
Wednesday December 26 at 7:30 PM
Price: $15

Knitting Factory - New York
74 Leonard Street
New York, NY 10013
Tel: (212) 219-3132

Psychedelic meets Middle Eastern with Eden Mi Qedem's unique signature fusion "wherein Western and Middle Eastern pop culture clash in a colorfully spectacular fashion that redefines rock and roll, like crossing U2 with Dead Can Dance" ( Whisperin & Hollerin )

Atlas Soul is a band performing original music that celebrates Afro-Mediterranean culture and rhythm heavily spiced with Jazz and Funk.

Zikrayat is a New York based ensemble of musicians and dancers dedicated to presenting the traditional repertory of Arab music, song, and dance

I won't be attending, however; I just don't have the time.

Thursday, December 20, 2007


Remember when you were a kid? You thought that your mother and your father were perfect. They could do anything, and certainly do no wrong, either.

Remember the first time you saw a chink in that shiny armor, the slightest dent or taint? When you realized they weren't perfect? How did you feel? I was at a lost, and I remember the exact moments that I came to the realization that they were humans, not only capable of making mistakes, but big ones. It took a long time to get used to that fact, but eventually, I learned that these things just aren't that simple...

I had a terrible moment of deja' vu yesterday evening.

Right after breaking the fast on a much needed coffee, I climbed into my car to get some grub. My phone rings, and it's my cousin, bearing terrible news. Apparently, an important person that we know very well was arrested, implicated in some sort of money laundering scam. This person ( a Hasidic Rebbe, actually), is very close to my community. More so, he's very close to my immediate family. I've known him all my life, gotten brachas (blessings) from him at least once a year, and have asked for his advice numerous times.

Needless to say, I'm shocked and dismayed.

I know white collar crime is common in the jewish community (not just among the Hasidim either), be it large scale insurance frauds and tax evasion, or on a very personal level. I don't know where the permission to do these things is found, either; I'm not the most learned person, but dishonesty is dishonesty, any way you slice it. Even if it's not strictly forbidden, not written explicitly in the Torah "though shall not...", I don't understand how one can compartmentalize falsehood to just his business dealing with gentiles. It has to effect every other aspect, not to mention what kind of mention it sends to our children. Even if we know the difference, children tend to takes things quite literally, and see things in black and white...

I don't know what to say. I certainly don't think that Reb ______ is a bad person; on the contrary, I've known him too long to just write him off so quickly. I don't even know how involved he actually is in the whole deal. I'm still trying to wrap my head around this news.

One part of me wants him to get out as soon as possible, while the other part wants to ensure that he and his Hasidim get shaken up by this visit to jail, at least enough so that they won't be too hasty in doing this stuff again...

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Lessons to keep...

First of all, sorry for the lack of postage recently. Things have been sort of busy, and I just didn't have the time...

Anyway, although Channukka has come and passed, I'd like to share some lessons that Karma Dude pointed out to me. These are lessons that aren't necessarily taught or discussed in classrooms, and yet, they speak volumes and raise interesting questions about today.

We know what the catalyst for the rebellion was. For over two hundred years, the Assyrians had their way with us. By law, any jewish girl about to be married had to spend a night with the Assyrian general beforehand; they weren't playing Parcheesi, if you catch my drift.

Imagine the pain, the shame that these poor girls had to endure, right before what should be one of the happiest days of their lives!

For two hundred years (and change), the Jewish nation accepted this terrible affront to one of the pillars of our way of life, that of marital sanctity. And we accepted it, and went with it.

Then, one very brave daughter of Israel stood up, and did something so daring, it was impossiblr to ignore. She was the daughter of Matisyahu - the Kohen Gadol (High Priest) and a scion of the Hasmonean dynasty - and he couldn't do anything but heed her cry.

What did he do? He stood up, made a public statement: Mi L'Hashem Elai? Who is with me for God? With those words, he stated that he would no longer stand by and watch the spirtual destruction of his Nation, and he invited, he challenged all to join him.

And who joined him?

None, save for his five sons. They recognized what their father was saying, and they answered him, standing with him.

Lesson One: Family. When the going gets tough, and the chips are down, who's at your back? Your family, and most times, they're the only ones.

They started a campaign, a coup d'etat the likes no one has ever, nor will ever see. In the face of many, this small group (aided by others who heard the call and felt the need to take a stand), took on the might of the Assyrian military. With God helping them always, they emerged victorious.

Lesson Two: It wasn't the popular thing to do. When everyone was complacent, or afraid, and would rather not make a ruckus, Mi L'Hashem Elai wasn't much of a rally cry. "Be quiet, you'll only make it worse!" "Don't worry, soon this will all pass..."
No. Sometimes, God is telling us to make a choice. Hishtadlus is a very important aspect of out lives, of our existence as humans. It may be hard, and it may be dangerous, but it must be done. He will lead, but we have to walk...

These are such important lessons!

I don't like to be all gloom and doom, but take a look around. Our status quo? The Orthodox (all denominations) community is but a tiny majority. We cluck our tongues and talk about the so called crisis' - both real and imaginary - but do we do anything about them? "That's for the professionals..." "What can I do? Who am I?" "Oy, it's a shandeh, it's a rachmanus..."

I'm not talking about Kiruv, or shidduchim, or any one specific problem. It applies to every facet of our lives, every minute of the day. We're all aware of various problems in our respective communities, both spiritual and material. What do we do about it? How can we change it?

We're all one family; the chips are down. What are we doing about it?

Mi L'Hashem Elai still isn't a popular rally cry, apparently. But let's face it, at the end of the day, on whose side would you rather be? On the victorious side, the ones who answered "I am."? Or the ones who just laid down and took it?

Think about it, people...

Let's be true warriors...

--Thanks to Karma Dude for the discussion. I love you man.

Friday, December 7, 2007

I knew it...

Your results:
You are Spider-Man

Green Lantern
Wonder Woman
Iron Man
The Flash
You are intelligent, witty,
a bit geeky and have great
power and responsibility.

Click here to take the "Which Superhero are you?" quiz...

This actually makes more sense than expected...