Thursday, November 29, 2007

Why not?

Just a few clips, because I noticed that the overall tone on the blog has been a little depressing of late...

This is just cool. The sheer amount of upper body strength to do this is astounding!

Kind weird, but mildly entertaining...

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The trip that never ends...

I don't mean to sound all grumpy, but I'm sitting in the Ninth Circle of Hell (Toronto Pearson Airport, in case you forgot), and my flight has been pushed back even further.

I'm tired. I'm wired. I feel drained, after the whirlwind of activity that was my week so far.

Aside from being in town for a shidduch, my friend's wedding here in Toronto was last night. All my buddies drove in, and I was the "inside man", coordinating the places where they would be crashing for the night.

So, the shidduch has ended. I'm fine about it; to tell the truth, I really didn't feel anything here nor there about this girl. She was nice, but while I didn't have a reason to not continue, I didn't have a reason to keep going, either. I think she felt the same way; as a matter of fact, she beat me to the punch, and said "no" first.

Thinking that I was going to be able to return back to Jersey this morning, I changed my ticket. However, my sister-in-law had other plans. She arrainged for me to have a date today, smack in the middle of everything. It would have to be rushed, in order to accomodate the new flight that I changed my ticket for, which I should have been on by now, but due to delays, yadda yadda you now the drill. I took this girl out today, and it was only when we got in the car that I realized this girl was a newbie to the scene. That put a little pressure on me...

On top of all that, she also paraded me around last night at the wedding. Introducing me to people in a not so subtle fashion, she let them know all of my vital statistics. Age, where I learn, that I'm in shidduchim, my neck, waist, and inseam sizes...Everything that a prospective buyer might want to know...

I am so exhausted...

Sunday, November 25, 2007

On the road again...

Once again, I find myself in Newark airport, waiting for a flight.

This is my second trip to this particular destination in as many weeks; as you can tell, I'm in the middle of a shidduch.

Maybe it comes with the territory of being the youngest in the family, but it seems as if each one of my siblings feels compelled to give me a call in order to impart their pearls of wisdom. I don't usually mind, but when it's mostly unsolicited, and simultaneous, it can get to be a bit much...

Each one thinks that they're are helping "clear things up" for me, when in reality they're only added to the din and confusion. However, if you tell them as much, you run the risk of insulting them, and burning your bridges...

Talk about a rock and a hard place...

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Fight for Kisses...

Karma Dude just shared this with me, and I felt that this is worth sharing with you all...

The classic struggle...for love.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Impossible needs...

I collapse from working harder than
The average workaholic
I intend on reaching farther than
To get exactly what I fight so hard and labor for
And crack the surface of
what I intend to be

Not for you
You're too hard to please

How do I meet your impossible needs?
How can I reach
With you pulling on me?
With your impossible needs
How can I reach
With you pulling on me?

I snap but still hang on
by the thread that you throw me
One hand to just hang on
and the other to catch me
One too many ticks past the second
that you were so happy
I cant go back around again

Not for you
You're too hard to please

How do I meet your impossible needs?
How can I reach
with you pulling on me?
With your impossible needs
How can I reach
with you pulling on me?

In a round-about way
I'm better than this
But you keep me from taking a chance
On what I believe I am
And what you think makes me a man...
- Nonpoint, off the album Recoil.

Something about this song always resonates with me, and this is how I've been feeling the last few days...

- This is a cover that they did of Phil Collins' In The Air Tonight; it was featured on the Miami Vice soundtrack...

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

A must read...

I just finished reading an amazing book, and I need to tell everyone to read it.

The Dawning Of The Day is the story of a simple man living in Jerusalem. I can't really explain what the book is about, but it happens to be one of the most amazing reads I've ever had.

The author, Haim Sabato, has a hesder yeshiva right outside Jerusalem. His writing is rich with faith, quoting from TaNaCh left and right. Though the style may be simplistic, there is such inherent profundity that you won't notice it. I read his first book, Adjusting Sights, last winter, and was awed by his storytelling as well as the pure emotion within. This book just compounded that sense in me, and I urge everyone to get it and read it.

Trust me.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Day Six...

Today's is a real doozy. If I was on my deathbed, what message/messages would I try to impart to my friends and family before leaving this plane?

I'm not sure why this is a topic on positive blogging week. Although death isn't negative, per se (after all, we are essentially working towards death all our lives,in aneffort to get through this plane to the next REAL existence), and doesn't have to be relegated to the the corners of our psyche, it still tends to evoke sad and yearning feelings within us.

In any event, this is the topic, so let's take a look...

The truth is, I have no idea what I would say.

There are several problems. 1) Whatever I say is dependent on the dynamics of the relationship I have with each individual family member. I don't want to write some generic platitude that serves as a overall statement. It has to be appropriate to each individual, tailored for that person alone. 2) I certainly hope that I won't have wasted my time as a parent/grandparent/mentor/friend not telling them what I think is important for them to know. Why wait until the "last minute" in a literal sense when I have a daily opportunity to teach by example?

In any event, there is one thing I would definitely say, and it's something I got from my great-grandfather, H"YD. This is a lesson that's been repeated over and over in my life, and remains as relevant as ever:

When my grandmother's family was brought to one of the concentration camps, she and her sister (my great aunt) were separated from the rest of the family. Frantic, they tried making it through the crowds, desparately clinging to each other, searching for the rest of their family.

At one point, they found a clearing near a fence, and stopped or a moment. My great-grandfather appeared on the other side of the fence, which served as the separation between men and women.

The last thing he said to them was "Love each other! No matter what, you have to always love each other!"

I think that would resonate with anyone, but it is an important lesson. We let all the petty things get in our way, and sometimes we don't express our love for each other. We can even be led to believe that we hate someone, because we forget about who that person really is, and who we are.

"Love each other! No matter what, you have to always love each other!"

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Day Five...

I'm sitting in Newark airport, waiting for my flight out. We're off this Shabbos, which works out very well, because I have a date tonight at my destination. Thankfully, I'm feeling much better, albeit not quite myself yet...

Today's discussion is to recount a time when we saved someone's life, or helped somebody.

Truth be told, this makes me a little uncomfortable. All the other topics so far have dealt with recognizing the good in others, whereas this one focus exclusively on one's self. Still...

I was on my way to night seder. It was 11th grade, and I was late. It was very cold outside, so I had my collar up, a knit cap on over my headphones, and a huge scarf wrapped around my face. I could see in my periphery that there was someone ahead of me, about 15 feet or so, but because of the wind, I had my head down.

Suddenly - through my very loud playing music - I hear an ear splitting screech. I look up, and it doesn't register right away what I'm seeing. What I originally thought was a guy hanging out the passenger side of an extremely fast moving car turned out to be a pedestrian rolling up the hood, over the roof, and down off the trunk onto the ground. The car never slowed down, but continued laying rubber as it sped away.

A hit and run.

I ran over to the guy, and as I got closer, my heart skipped a beat: it was a guy from my yeshiva. As I got closer, I recognized him. He was a grade younger than me; he'd just come that year, and he was a very sweet guy. I get to him, and he's knocked out. Out of the corner of my eye, I see people running over. Some lady pulled into the parking lot across the street, and as she came running over, she tripped and fell. Another guy quickly pulled over to the side and hopped out. I screamed at him to call 911. Everything was so clear, like it was in high definition.

The guy who got hit came to just as I knelt by him. Disoriented, he didn't even realize I was there. He started screaming for help, struggling to get up, freaking out. I saw his pupils were dilated; he probably had a concussion.

I have very minimal first aid training, but I know that when there's an accident, you have to consider the possibilty of neck/spinal trauma, and ensure that the victim stays immobile. This guy has no clue that any of us are standing there, and much as I try to talk to him, nothing is getting through. Like I said, minimal training, but I've seen movies, and people can go into shock. I covered him with my coat, and basically crossed my arms across his chest with my thumbs out, forcing him - gently - to remain still until the ambulance came.

After all the excitement, I had to take a phone call from the hospital to answer the doctor's questions about symptoms the guy showed immediately after the accident.

When the guy came back to yeshiva a week later, he wanted to buy me something, as a "thank you" for saving his life.

I don't think I saved his life, but I was glad to help...

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Days Three And Four...

Sorry, I've been sick for the past few days...

Day Three's assignment was to write about something good happening in one's community. Recently, the high school branch of my old school in Cleveland brought in a brand new kollel.

Originally, I was skeptical, if not apprehensive about this new endeavor, due to several reasons. From what I had heard, the official mission statement of this new program was to make the high school more "yeshivish", which usually raises my hackles. What exactly is "yeshivish" anyway? To me, thgat word usually has negative connotations, choosing to focus on more superficial things like appearance and attitude than anything else.

So far, the high school has done rather well, with their boys. In some ways, I wish that the high school had begun a year earlier, so that I could've attended. I know that the guys who went through the system have become excellent people, earnest in every facet of their lives. I was worried that with the influx of kollel people from out of town (i.e. New York) might damage certain points of integrity to the school, because they would teach the guys that they have to wear black hats in order to be considered frum, but they wouldn't teach them anything else.

Thankfully, my fears were allayed. I happen to know several of the new Kollel guys personally, from around the Tri-State area, and I know that these guys are very sincere. I have confidence that they won't just focus on the outer things that make people seem to be frum, but rather they will take pains to ensure that the boys understand what is really important about being a true Torah Jew.

I wish them all the best, and that they have a lot of luck.

With that said, we can segue into today's topic: If I would have $30 Million to spend over the course of three months, how would I use it to help the world?

Well, several points: 1) I may sound naive, but I really don't have a grasp on what $30 Million is. It's just beyond my imagination. 2) Is it just me getting this amount of money, or does everybody?

In any event, I think that rather than focus on the world at large, I would focus on my community first, following the rule that you have to help the needy in your own city before anyone else.

Since the Jewish nation's future is always reliant on the children, I'd focus on the educational system. Unlike many places, Cleveland still has a school that will take in anybody who is Jewish, and wants to recieve a real Torah education. However, with many monetary problems, it can be hard for a school to take care of everything, so that would be the first step. I'd tell the administration to take whatever they need in order to get such affairs in order. Bills, supplies, etc.

I would make it a requirement for every member of the faculty (especially the Rebbes) to take a course in education, in order to make sure they know how to teach, and be an educator (just because one is a learned man, or a scholar, that doesn't mean he fills the criteria of being a teacher that molds young minds).

Then, I'd institute a mandatory session with every single student, from youngest to oldest, with a guidance counselor/educational director ( one who is hired with the money exclusively for this job). This way, we'd be able to determine the strengths, qualities and needs of each and every child, knowing what s/he needs in order to be successful.

Along those lines, based on the information recieved, I'd try to implement a smaller classroom policy. This entails hiring more teachers, but thankfully, that doesn't seem to be an issue. Smaller classes, where the student/teacher ratio is lessened seems to work better, as it gives more of each teacher's attention to each child. A close relationship is very important. This also has the advantage in terms of disciplinary actions...

I'm sure there's a lot of change left after this, but it's still a start...

Monday, November 5, 2007

Day Two...


Today's task is to write about a particular someone(s) that either saved my life, or inspired me to excel.

First of all, as I grow older, the more I see that - despite our differences of opinions in many forums - my parents were definitely on to something. They were the first ones to tell me that I can do better, and that they indeed expected that of me. While at the time, I couldn't understand how they couldn't understand that I worked so hard just to get the grade I got, I now see that this was their way of telling me that they could see my potential. They could see it, and because they could see to a certain extent what I capable of, they didn't allow mediocrity.

The same went for the rest of my siblings...

Someone who saved my life? That would most definitely be my Rosh Yeshiva, in a sense.

Five years ago (and some change, to be exact), I was going through a real rough patch. I had just gotten into major trouble at my high school/yeshiva, and I was now desperately looking for a new place, a new yeshiva where I could maybe have a fresh start, and hold me back from completely losing it.

I knew what I needed. I needed a small place, where the group's a little more close knit, where they weren't as judgmental. However, the most important factor was the Rosh Yeshiva. I needed somebody with warmth, someone who just cared about his boys, and that's exactly what I found when I came to my current yeshiva. From the first time we spoke on the phone up until this day, I would do anything to make my Rosh proud of me. His entire approach to running a yeshiva is based on trust, and because of that simple fact, I just couldn't let him down.

I only found out much later that he was completely aware of everything that happened at my old yeshiva, and even so, he decided to give me another chance.

I think I owe him forever...

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Day One...

Today's topic is about positive memories, influences, and the like. I've noticed that several people wrote about places, so I will as well.

Obviously, any Jew will tell you that Israel makes it into his/her top ten list of favorite places. The same goes for myself, specifically Jerusalem (taking the #1 spot) and Tzfat (the #2). However, I'd like to write about my third favorite place: my hometown.

I'm from Cleveland, born and bred.

Since I first came to Jersey almost ten years ago, I'm constantly met with this response when I tell people where I'm from: "Oh, Cleveland? (eyes roll) Yeah, what's there, anyway?"

Truth be told, their not prepared for my answer. Usually people try to defend their respective hometowns, insistent that their city isn't dead, that there's loads to do, places to go, and exciting things to see. And, Cleveland (and the surrounding area) does have all those things. There's the Rock and Roll hall of fame, I'm told that the nightlife can be pretty intense, and the local music scene is very happening.

However, my response to people's disdainful comments is full agreement. For me, the reason I love my hometown is because there's really nothing going on, if you want it that way. The sole reason I love going home is because that's my decompression area. When I go home, I go to the library, stock up on books, and relax, allowing myself the time needed to recharge my physical batteries.
In a "small town" like mine, you can't rely on the fact that there's a shul around the corner, where you can catch a minyan (quorum of ten adult Jewish males, a basic requirement for public prayers) until 10 in the morning. No. In my neighborhood, the latest minyan is at 8:30. If you don't catch that, you have to either pray alone, or drive to the other neighborhood.
The politics in a small town can get pretty messy, but thankfully they are isolated cases; they don't happen very often, and eventually, even the most bitter fights are cleared up, with both parties moving on.
To be honest, it's very refreshing to come home and see a real sense of community, something that does exist elsewhere, I'm sure, but not as recognizable in larger places, like in the tri-state area. Nothing beats walking into shul on Friday night, and seeing people's faces light up because you're there. They don't know what is happening in your personal life - because you're always out of town - but it doesn't matter to them anyway; you're home, and that's all that matters...It gives you a real sense of belonging.
Being home, eating mom's delicious food, praying at my shul and seeing all my childhood friends? That's a perfect vacation for me, and I wouldn't give that up for anything in the world.
A lot of times we feel like we have to define ourselves by what we have. Cleveland reminds me that not only do we not have to define ourselves that way, but sometimes it's better to define ourselves by what we don't have...

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Positive Blogging Week...

This week, starting tomorrow, is positive blogging week, a brainchild of fellow blogger Ehav Ever. Each day has a different subject that intends for the writer to write an essay about something positive in his/her life.

Hopefully, this will lead to some inspirational writing, and thinking...

God willing, I'm going to give it a shot, so stay tuned...