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Showing posts from November, 2006
Hakaras haTov -- How far?

Another interesting ha'ara from the Sifsei Chaim, Midos v'Avodas haShem. After the burning bush incident, where Moshe Rabbeinu was told in a direct navu'a from haShem to go to Mitzrayim to bring out Klal Yisrael (and all the back and forth there), we have pasuk 4:18: Moshe left and returned to Yeser his father-in-law, etc. Rashi brings the M'chilta on that verse that says that Moshe was asking to leave because he had promised his father-in-law not leave Midian without permission. The medrash explains that Moshe had made the promise because of his hakaras hatov to Yisro.

Now wait a minute... the entire klal yisrael is languishing in Mitzrayim, it is time for them to be redeemed, and Moshe is the chosen redeemer. Yet Moshe Rabbeinu needs his father-in-law's permission? And just what was the chesed that Yisro had done for Moshe? Yisro had invited Moshe in for a meal. And why did Yisro invite Moshe in for a meal? Because Moshe had just s…
In z'chus of a r'fu'ah shleima for Rafael Ze'ev ben Miriam.

Yeshivas Chafetz Chaim is asking people to commit to at least 10 minutes of mussar per day to add to the many merits of Rafael Ze'ev ben Miriam to bring him a r'fu'ah shleima min haShamayim, r'fuas haNefesh u'r'fu'as haGuf. I will be happy to forward the form to anyone who wants to officially participate. The official request is from now till January 20. I decided as part of my own acceptance to learn that I would also accept to, bli neder, publish something I have learned from my mussar seder to this blog at least three times per week. Saying over what I have learned should make the lesson more ingrained in me and thus a better limud.

Here goes...

It says in Avos 1:15: "Shamai omer:... hevei m'kabel es kol ha'adam b'seiver panim yafos." I heard from R' Avigdor Miller, z'tzl, that one should analyze each word:
panim: from "lifnos", to turn (t…

A bump in the road.

In Salt Lake City we made a lot of friends and had a very positive experience with the Jewish community. I started teaching sunday school (7th grade; and found out I am not good with middle-schoolers). My wife became a "kosher cop" of sorts. She would go to various establishments and verify that they used only kosher ingredients and therefore could be used at the synagogue. We went to adult education classes in making Shabbat. We helped organize events for Jewish students at the university. We went to services every Friday night and Saturday morning. I also went most Sundays, Mondays, and Thursdays; and I bought my first pair of t'fillin. Basically, we were enjoying being active members of our synagogue and the Jewish community.

We also learned how to make a Jewish home by spending times with Jews in their homes... especially Shabbos and holidays. One of those Friday nights out (we drove on Shabbos in those days) while discussing our family history, I mentioned t…

This is the place!

There is a memorial just outside of Salt Lake City called the "This is the Place" Monument. I thought, "Cool! They have a sense of humor about their religion." Thus began my education about living in Utah. They were serious. Brigham Young had woken up from a fever long enough to say the very deeply inspiring and wise words (note sarcasm), "This is the place"... and they had memorialized! They didn't even try to make it sound better. Good grief. Thus began my education about religion outside of California. Namely, some people honestly took their religious beliefs seriously! I was shocked. I'd grown up in California... you could be different religions and it was no more important that wearing different styles or enjoying different cuisine. But here, in Salt Lake City, people actually took their beliefs seriously. In fact, everyone took their beliefs and/or non-beliefs seriously. Religion was so "in your face" that no one coul…

Moving at different rates.

Since you have just seen one example and because you'll see a lot more, I wanted to emphasize that my wife, our children, our friends, and I did not progress at the same rate. While reading the last entry, my wife was pleased with the way our differences were portrayed and emphasized to me that the differences need to continue to be portrayed. That is also part of the journey.

It is very common for a married couple to move at different rates in their acceptance and embracing of new ideas and behaviors. Part of any good marriage is personal and mutual growth. I am sure that is obvious. What may be less obvious is the special challenge of religious growth -- especially in modern western civilization where everything *except* religion has value. All the more so "organized" religion. Moreover, Orthodox/Torah Judaism has a world view which is totally at odds with the prevailing culture.

So I will do my best to present how we handled those difference; both as encouragemen…

"I thought you were kidding."

This goes into the hall of fame for famous last words. This was when my wife first realized that what she thought of as my weird sense of humor might have a darker side. Here's what led up to that statement: We had just arrived in Salt Lake City and were moving into our apartment in married student housing. I was emptying out our ice chest to the refrigerator... and tossing out the cold cuts we had brought for our two day drive across Nevada and Utah from South Lake Tahoe. "What are you doing?", she asked me; a bit incredulous. "We decided to start keeping kosher when we got to Salt Lake City, remember?" "I thought you were kidding."

Ok... let me fill in a few details of how we went from that first seder to Salt Lake City. (Salt Lake City?!? UTAH??? Uh.... yes.)

After that seder I knew I was not Reform, but I didn't know what I yes was. I figured I must be Conservative. Truth be told, I had leanings in that direction anyway. The synagogu…