Wednesday, April 30, 2008

re: orthofronting (paging heimish, among others)

In your non-rabbinic opinion, what's "better" -- to do one thing sincerely or to do lots of things mindlessly and without soul, kavanah (or meaning)?

Some would say mitzvah gorreret mitzvah ([performing] one commandment leads to performing another). These same folks might follow the na'aseh v'nishmah (do and follow) school of thought, when it comes to ritual observance.

And then there's the Janis Joplin school of thought that says if you've got one day, make that day love, 'cause that's all you've got (and some define love as ritual, and some don't, and to each his own).

I don't know. I'd rather have kavanah in the moment than perform mitzvot by rote. I don't like to plow through benching. I like to take my time and sing the whole thing out loud. Why? 'Cause it's fun to sing. 'Cause it's probably shabbos, so I'm not in a rush.

'Cause singing brings people together in ways doing other stuff together doesn't. I'm sure if I really needed to nap, I might want to do it faster/more quietly. That day hasn't come yet, but I haven't benched out loud with others since the sedarim (since Passover).

Now is one of those moments when I need sleep, but I want to say I love benching. I think gratitude is at the heart of Judaism, and eating is a very conscious process for me in relation to emotions like compassion and remembering to have it and stuff (like by not mixing meat and dairy foods together, for example).

Hey: If you don't know what any of the italicized words mean, please let me know, and I'll start sticking a glossary at the end of each entry. I have no idea who exactly is reading this thing. Thanks. Good night.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Tefillin and Acupuncture

This wouldn't be my blog without a link to this article:

I'm still working on figuring out a preferred font for my posts. Looking at the blog in full-screen on my home computer for the first time, I notice I don't like how Arial looks. Is any particular font more easy on your eyes? All feedback appreciated.

Friday, April 25, 2008

re: TCM & autistic behavior

How to stick me in a little box (not my car)

Disclaimer: I don't need no steenkin' boxes. But sometimes people like to refer to them to help them understand things on terms with which they're already familiar, I suppose.

In the comments section of
this entry, Jewish Skeptic asked me if I'm a baal teshuvah.
I answered him then, but the question was one worthy of taking a quiz, imo.
So I took the one linked below, and my results are below that.
I had to look up what words meant in about 35% of the questions, so I'd shave some % points off of the right wing ones, 'cause if I were really right wing, I wouldn't have had to look anything up to take that quiz.
Left Wing Modern Orthodox: 55%

Right Wing Modern Orthodox: 68%
Left Wing Yeshivish/Chareidi: 47%
Right Wing Yeshivish/Chareidi: 19%

Okay, today is 5/12/08, and I just took it again, this time without looking anything up. My new results:

Left Wing Modern Orthodox: 55%
Right Wing Modern Orthodox: 79%
Left Wing Yeshivish/Chareidi: 47%
Right Wing Yeshivish/Chareidi: 18%

The Orthodoxy Test
says that I'm Modern Orthodox


The Orthodoxy  Test -- Make and Take a Fun Quiz @'s User Tests!

What I've been learning:
I wound up at that page when I looked up pshat to take that quiz.
For people who don't know me: I went to yeshiva from preK to grade 2; grades 3-7 were at a prep school, and I had a Hebrew (studies, not language) tutor in grades 3 and 4, maybe grade 5, too (I always learned with my dad); in 7th grade - the end of high school, I went to my local public school (and lost most interest in orthodoxy after I was sent upstairs to sit with the women when I turned 12; add my mom being sick to that, and I didn't believe in much of anything). I went to New College at Hofstra (U.) for five years (got a degree, felt awkward at Hillel, but the rabbi was cool; I just wasn't used to community Judaism [I grew up in the woods of western Jersey and although there was a shul, my home life wasn't functional enough to get me anywhere but school on a regular basis]. Parents try their best. And they did.).

When I was in high school, a wise rav pointed out that my dad didn't own Judaism, and regardless of issues I had with him due to the double-life-leading that having only one observant parent can lead to, Judaism is for me to form a relationship with, if I wish. So I've just learned (pretty much independently and reading online) a little, since then.

Religion isn't logical, and it's very human. I'm willing to accept both of those ideas and keep what I think is good for myself and wrestle/agree to disagree with the parts I don't like. Religion is something I find to be deeply personal.

Yes, it can be rather communal, at times. I get shy, sometimes, too. I'm happy to be here, happy to be alive and evolving. Gratitude is a large foundation, for me.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Apparently some folks don't listen to music during sefirah

Thanks, frum punk, for the clue. This entry was inspired by his post here (and the comments that follow it).
So I did a little research. It's no joke. Here, check these out:
An Interview On The History and The Story Behind Jewish A Cappella
Link above is titled
"Breaking The Silence Of Sefirah –– Sort of."
Interesting. Not my minhag (custom), but neat to learn what some other folks are (not, in this case) doing.

A little thought on yarzeit candles (copy/paste from myspace blog)

(I was writing about this weekend.)

... Hoping to chill out with my grandmother at some point (yiskor Sunday, yarzeit candles Saturday night). I really think yahrzeit candles are for the people who live with the people who light them, not for the people who light them. Some people, you just don't forget, you know? Well, I don't forget. Anyway, if you've got a candle or few to light, extra love your way, and to the people you love who light candles, too. I like to think people live on in the lives and hearts of folks who love them; that has been my own experience.

The Mussar of the Samurai (#1: Makoto)

I tried to make the bold part not bold. It's not working right now. Sorry.

I'm starting this out light, for kiruv purposes. If you're up for something that reads more like a granola bar than a bowl of cereal, here's something that's also related to makoto:

If you have no idea what makoto is, please read the blog entry prior, here.

copied and pasted from:

Being a Student of Mussar
By Ginette Daniels

About a year ago, as I began preparations for teaching a series of mini-classes on Proverbs at my Temple, my Rabbi and mentor asked if I had ever studied Mussar. She told me that Alan Morinis was coming to teach this fall at our Temple and that I should see what the study of Mussar could add to my spiritual practice and to my class. I promptly devoured both of Alan’s books and discovered the online class as well. I realized that Proverbs was what I would consider the first Mussar text, a type of how-to manual on living a life of integrity and studying Mussar did indeed complement my research.

But there were other more profound reasons why Mussar was a transformative experience. Mussar came into my life at just the right time. As with all of us, I had been working on a number of personal issues with mixed success. The idea of focusing intently essential inner character traits that would help me purify and elevate my soul resonated deeply with me.

On the outside, everything looked to be on track – and it was on a surface level – but we all have our inner soul work. For me, it was addressing a Type A behavior that grew out of a coping mechanism that helped me through the years deal with the consequences of a chronic health situation. I had also been struggling with the slow and painful death of an important personal relationship and it was time to take a long hard look at what was at the core of my personal challenges.

What the study of Mussar helped me discover was that for me trust in God was my core issue. As a lay leader at my Temple, one would assume that trust would come naturally. But, it did indeed lay at the root of my edginess. Worry, impatience, lack of equanimity, a struggle with simplicity, were all problem areas for me. I felt I needed to control outcomes and didn’t trust that God would find a way. I needed to learn that after doing all I could, all I needed to do was to trust in God’s wisdom. If I could just get let go, get out of my own way, then I would see and act on the many blessings that were right in front of me.

What makes Mussar so special is that it is not an abstract practice; it is a practical discipline as well. You just don’t study Mussar; you do it. You become sensitive to your soul’s inner workings and you seek to brush away whatever keeps you from becoming the person that God intends you to be. And you don’t have to do it alone. The Mussar community, your chevruta partner, all stand at the ready to support you when you come to a crossroads. You just need to have an honest commitment to keeping on your personal soul journey through the good and bad times. And if you do what you can with a sincere heart, you will achieve wholeness, peace, tranquility of soul, in a word, you will walk more closely with God. And what better way to live in joy.

The Mussar of the Samurai (#1: Sincerity)

This entry is related to one that comes after it, here.
Copied and pasted from:

Makoto - Sincerity

The theme of the 47th Annual AJJF Danzan Ryu Jujitsu Convention (1995) was makoto, which translates to "sincerity." Our AJJF Professors have shared their personal thoughts about the subject of makoto. Enjoy . . . . . .

Makoto is the Japanese word for "sincerity" or a "true (single) heart." The word consists of a composite Chinese pictograph that means "to become your word, to speak from your heart with your word fully in accord with your action, saying and doing the right thing at the right time regardless of living or dying." In the Kodenkan system of Judo this is a fundamental teaching that is taught in practically every facet of training from the time the student begins. Through years of Judo training, the mind and the body become one with each other and the clouds of doubt and fear are dispelled from the mind so that the individual can move freely with no restraints and become Makoto. It is a life-long journey down the path of the Way of Gentleness for one to be in accord with his or her true self.

Prof. Tom Jenkins

Sincerity speaks to motive. The root of sincerity is honesty. When we are honest with ourselves, we are honest with others, and we are able to speak and act truthfully. All too often, in misguided attempts to avoid embarrassment, or confrontation, we conceal or ignore the truth of a situation. While this may temporarily "save face" for someone, it only complicates our lives and leads to larger problems later on. We should heed Polonius' advice to his son:
This above all: to thine ownself be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.

Hamlet, Act I, Scene III, line 78.

Sincerity uncomplicates our live, increases our reputation for integrity, and enhances our ability to deal effectively with others.

Prof. Pat Browne

While Polonius probably was not thinking about Jujitsu, his words still valuable. Sincerity, being true to oneself, is a key piece of being a successful martial artist. Any one can go through the motions; virtually anyone can master the physical components of the art. But there is a deeper aspect to the arts that goes beyond technique. Each art must be done fully and completely, with all your heart and spirit behind it: in short, the art must be "sincere." You must make each art your own; it is not enough to do an art just because your sensei tells you to. That may be sufficient for a beginner, but as you progress, you need to understand each art, accept it, make it part of yourself. Then, when you do an art, it is truly you doing it, not just a series of motions you do to please someone else. It is when an art becomes a part of you that it will feel natural. Only then can your arts be sincere; only then can heart and action be as one.

Prof. J.R. Musselman

Sincerity is but one character trait all Martial Artists must possess. Demonstrate sincerity in and out of the Dojo. Be sincere with your compliments. Mount people can tell the difference between sugar and saccharine. A blush is one thing that cannot be counterfeited.

Prof. Rory Rebmann

Webster defines sincerity as: "The state or quality of being sincere; honesty of purpose or character; freedom from hypocrisy, deceit or simulation." As martial artists, we often hear that we must be sincere in our approach to practice; we must be sincere in our dealings with others; we must be sincere in the way we interact with our training partners. It was one of the main points in the code of Bushido and in the European code of Chivalry; our sensei expect no less of us today.

There are times when being sincere also requires us to be courageous, another point in the "code of a warrior." Ultimately, one cannot discuss or act simply with sincerity without involving other points in our "code" such as loyalty, courage, and righteousness; noble virtues for all to adhere to much more so a warrior.

All those who practice martial arts are not warriors, and all warriors do not practice martial arts. Being a warrior comes from within, from the heart. Being a warrior requires one to travel a narrow rugged path which is not always easy and requires one to have strength of spirit, which supports each of the points in the "code." The way we meet the challenges in our various walks of life can be seen as the fire in which we temper our spirit. Without strength of spirit, the other martial virtues will only be shadows, to be dispelled by the slightest light.

In the Confucian classic The Doctrine of the Mean we find the following, "Sincerity is the Way of Heaven; making oneself sincere is the Way of man. Sincerity hits what is right without effort, and obtains (understanding) without thinking."

Taking the above into consideration, we can see that the practice of being a warrior, alluded to in Okazaki's Esoteric Principles is one method of reaching the state spoken of in the ancient classics as the "superior man," the shinjin.

Prof. Tom Ball

Beauty is as beauty does. There is nothing so appreciated as the beautiful personified qualities of honesty and sincerity given without restraint. Makoto is giving your word with honor, truth and purpose. Strive for these qualities without conceit and you will harmonize with nature, family and self.

Prof. Jane Carr

Being sincere in your pursuit of perfection in Jujitsu and in particular in the AJJF and its schools is a great virtue. This virtue, in martial arts, allows one to develop the need to focus, concentrate or have Shin to accomplish the arts we perform with safety and control. Your sincerity toward Jujitsu also allows you to understand some of the Esoteric Principles laid forth by Prof. Okazaki.

Sincerity of truthfulness is an attitude towards martial arts and Jujitsu in particular is a result of your attempt to achieve the perfection in character from our system. As you progress from the first course to the higher courses, you should be sincere in your attempt to learn and to understand the arts and their application. From the physical practice of the arts, one develops better control of oneself as is conveyed in the Esoteric Principles. As you gain better self-control, in the long run, you will be better able to control others and life situations.

Prof. John Congistre

True sincerity derives from self-knowledge and courage. If I truly know who I am and what I value, and stand firmly for what I believe, and have the courage to act on it, I can't help but be sincere. It is fear that produces insincerity: fear of confrontation, fear of rejection, fear of failure. As martial artists we strive to overcome our fears, to ignore the temptations to take the easy way out, to face challenges with pride, dignity, and confidence. Sincerity, then, is a goal worthy of determined pursuit and a quality to be greatly admired.

Prof. Don Cross

We have no way of knowing how anyone looks at this - I do. It is unfortunate that most people look at life as normal existence. We have a goal to make our system honorable to all people. And we shall carry Master Okazaki's' wish to everyone. Master Okazaki made note that honesty was one of the most important parts of the Esoteric Principles. I would like to expound upon that history; that he had given us a most complete system of Jujitsu. He gave us a look at ourselves to see if we are worthy. Then we should decide.

Senior Prof. Lamar Fisher

© Copyright 2007,
American Judo & Jujitsu Federation

The theoretical guide to kosher l'pesach (do not try this at home)

I love mishegas. This is humor, and I'm no rav, but this does reflect the logic of my thought process when analyzing what's theoretically not chametz (lack of hashgacha notwithstanding) on a tight schedule and a tight budget. Other than having some tofu, I've been doing pretty well, this year. I need to stop at my bubbie's house to get some leftovers (hopefully already frozen).

-some things at Taco Bell (if you eat there, you know what they are), 'cause tortillas and hard shell tacos don't rise (I'm not a big Mexican foods eater, but hopefully you get the idea)
-Wendy's baked potatoes
-baked potato cart in midtown Manhattan
-Boston Market (minus cornbread, stuffing and anything else obviously chametz)
-tofu (it might really be; I didn't look into it, it comes from soy beans, I'm part sfard; that works)
-any Chinese/Asian food that is not breaded
-all beans, rice, corn and anything else sfardim eat, whether you're sfard or not
(I'm half-yekke, too)

I've been eating lots of cheese and fruits and vegetables and chocolate. What has been on your menu?

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Cross-post experiment 1

I posted to my regular blog. Click here, if you'd like to check it out.
If that link doesn't work, please let me know. Have a great day, all.

J Geography Request

I went to college (freshman year) with Jessica G., of Lititz, Pa., whose dad is a rav in the Philadelphia area, I believe. She went out to Colorado and was in a car accident (still alive) and pursued a career in choreography at a school in Pa., as far as I know. She gave me my tzedakah box. If anyone knows her, please send her my love. Thanks. She probably graduated high school in 1993, if that helps.

And hello to RPRY's class of '89, if you were there during 2nd grade or earlier. :)

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Got Minhagim? (got customs?)

Ones that you make up that apply to and are just followed by you, as far as you know?
I've got one. When I put change in my tzedakah (charity) box, I leave a few coins on top, in case someone comes over and wants to give tzedakah but doesn't have any extra money to give. Which reminds me, I have a bag of change in my trunk from the last time I emptied mine that I need to roll and donate (I know where I'm sending it).

re: Music

Lately I've been listening to the new R.E.M. album. Stipe is out of whiny mode -- that's a good thing. You can stream it here:

Some Lyrics:
Song: Man-Sized Wreath

Turning on the TV and what do I see?
A pageantry of empty gestures all lined up for me – wow!
I'd have thought by now we would be ready to proceed
But a tearful hymn to tug the heart
And a man-sized wreath – ow!

Throw it on the fire
Throw it in the air
Kick it out on the dance-floor like you just don't care, oh
Give me the sound

Wave the palms, steal the alms, fists in the air
A motorcade up benign shows the people that you care – ow!
Nature abhors a vacuum but what's between your ears?
Your judgement clouded with fearful thoughts
A headlights and a deer – ow!

Throw it on the fire
Throw it in the air
Kick it out on the dance-floor like you just don't care
Look at what I've found
Everybody look around
Everybody looking like they just don't care, oh
Give me the sound

Well I'm not deceived by pomp and odious conceit
But a tearful hymn to tug the heart
And a man-sized wreath - ow!

Throw it on the fire
Throw it in the air
Kick it out on the dance-floor like you just don't care
Look at what I've found
Everybody look around
Everybody looking like they just don't care

Throw it on the fire
Throw it in the air
Kick it out on the dance-floor like you just don't care, oh
Give me the sound
Give me the sound
Give me the sound

I liked this article
particularly this part:
"The mitzvah of sippur yetziat Mitzrayim is to narrate our founding story to our children (and ourselves) in a manner appropriate to each of them. The main text used should be the vidui bikkurim in Devarim. Make sure that you tell it over in a narrative format (beginning, middle, end, starting with the bad parts, ending with the redemption), and use the objects on the table (matzah and marror, not the ‘Bag O’ Plagues’) to characterize and punctuate the various parts of the narrative. That’s the mitzvah. The rest is, quite literally, commentary."

Friday, April 18, 2008

Not The Chosen People

More importantly, the choosing people. As in, na'aseh v'nishmah -- we chose. And, as in, we choose every day whether or not to make anything in which we believe a part of our lives, whether it's religion or being respectful of others or the decisions we make. Life is full of choices.

All that you touch
All that you see
All that you taste
All that you feel
All that you love
All that you hate
All you distrust
All that you save
All that you give
All that you deal
All that you buy
beg, borrow or steal
All you create
All you destroy
All that you do
All that you say
All that you eat
everyone you meet
All that you slight
everyone you fight
All that is now
All that is gone
All that's to come
and everything under the sun is in tune
but the sun is eclipsed by the moon.
For long you live and high you fly
And smiles you'll give and tears you'll cry
And all you touch and all you see
Is all your life will ever be.....

-Pink Floyd, "Dark Side of The Moon".

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Rock Stars Series: The Bluzhover Rav

This guy totally rocked (z"l). Click link and scroll down for a little story about him and what he did.
If you liked that, do a search for "Bluzhover." Lots of great stories about him out there.

An excerpt from the link above:

He looked around the barracks, in the dim moonlight, seeing the gaunt, hollow faces, and hopeless eyes, and he began:

“Why is this Seder different from all other Seders? We have no four cups of wine to bless, no tables laden with good food and fine china, no children to ask the four questions, and no vegetables to dip in commemoration of the exodus from Egypt so long ago. Our Matzah, burned, small, and barely recognizable as the same matzah we had before the war, reminds us more of where we are than of where we once were. Only Maror, the bitter herbs, are in abundance this year.

“But if even here, in the depths of our darkness and despair, we can nonetheless recall the exodus and celebrate Pesach, then we are truly free. Freedom, you see, isn’t about where you are, it is about who you are.”

I study Classical Asian Medicine (in my spare time)

I hope to get some posts up on it, soon, if only my class notes.

my response from "messing w/yeshivish people"

Here's the original post and the comments that led to this:

messing with yeshivish people


I hear you, and I can understand, especially if you have children in yeshiva, why frontingdox is convenient — you want other people’s kids to be able to eat at your house, and for the other children to be allowed to play w/your kid. Believe me — I’m dealing with a similar thing as an adult, kashering my kitchen fully knowing that wanting to be able to feed my family, if they come over, is a major driver of this decision. Am I a poser? No. I’ll do it right or not at all. Would I bother kashering if they didn’t keep kosher? Probably not, I’d just stop bringing in nonkosher food and wouldn’t mix meat and dairy (changes I implemented months ago).

Emotionally, I’m not doing it for anyone but me and my desire to be able to have my family over. Right? Wrong? It is what it is. Would I rather be eating bacon? No one’s stopping me from doing that outside my home; inside, I’m the only one who would know if I did. But I’d know, and that means something, so I guess it is for me.

I understand orthofront if you’re divorced and you want to see your kid. I know someone who is orthodox when his kids are there. When his kids are with their mother … not so much … but in his community he maintains his front and I guess he parties elsewhere.

[a support group for those who leave the Faith.]

I think these are a good thing. Sometimes people have negative experiences with what other people do re: religion. Good to be able to work through feelings about that.

[But most guys are not willing to give it all up, and dont have the courage/chutzpa/nerve/want to break off from everything and everybody.]

I can understand that, even if I don’t agree with it.

That one would feel a need to break off from

everything and everybody, as you wrote, is, imo,

a gigantic chillul hashem and

not a good way to encourage people to become observant —

“Hey, become orthodox and you can

feel the heart-wrenching stomach pains from

feeling like if you choose to live differently than others,

you may choose to submit to what may feel like emotional blackmail

because the alternative is alienation

and feeling as if you are not loved unconditionally!”

And in the end, everyone's responsible for their own choices, and no one is emotionally blackmailed without their consent, but it's total bs that anyone would ever feel that they have to do as all others do or not be accepted/loved by their own families.

To me, that’s exactly what Judaism is NOT about!

And I find it reprehensible that I have seen people suffer emotionally because they don’t wish to live as every otherdox in the ‘hood does, or because their child(ren) choose(s) to live differently, or because they wish to not be as observant as their parents. The heartache is not logical (and neither is religion, but we know that).

And the isolation works both ways — I know people more observant than some other members of their families who have been socially isolated, as a result, too, unfortunately. The less observant aren’t necessarily poster children for tolerance, either, and I will defend with equal passion the need to respect more observant people, too (like having family gatherings on Sundays, not Saturdays; offering to bring in a kosher meal, if nonkosher food is being served; for examples; this is menschlichkeit 101, not who wears skirts or goes to shul. Imo, folks need to be more respectful of everyone and agree to disagree/practice differently and love each other, anyway.)

[So they stay “frum”, do the shake, go to shul, daven, dress like penguins, but when you sit down and have any meaningful conversation with them, you see they are totally empty.]

I’m sorry to hear that. I don’t “do” as much, but what I do, I love and it puts the sprinkles on my spiritual ice cream every day.

On a completely selfish level, that blows for people like me (single, not very observant [but not necessarily opposed to being more observant], but love and care about Judaism a whole lot and want to wind up marrying someone who also digs Judaism). Most times, when I see an observant guy, I don't bother saying anything to him, 'cause I don't think I'd he'd even consider dating me, since I'm not as observant. If I had known it all might be a front, I'd've said hi to a lot more people, over the years. Jeepers. I have no patience for fronts. --Friday morning-- actually, I want to be with someone who actually digs Judaism, so, whatever. I don't want to be with someone who's not observant if they also don't like Judaism, and I don't want to be with someone who puts up an orthofront if the joy of Judaism doesn't coarse through his heart like music or blood.

How do people eat at each other's houses, if there are tons of people who don't really care? Is the only place you can be sure anything's really kosher in bp one's own house or a restaurant with a mashgiach? Or have people agreed unspokenly to all keep kosher well and equally, and just be shells of people who don't feel spiritual fulfillment for the sake of communal pretending? I don't get it.

[Living in BP, I know hundreds of such ppl, seriously, and life goes on. Is it sick?? you bet it is, but thats life.]

I guess I’m just lucky. My BP days were fun and full of noodles with pot cheese (and I was a wee lass, too). Lol And being observant was a beautiful, magical thing. And when I am, it’s still pretty cool (don’t get me wrong, I didn’t believe in God for many years and I’ve walked a long and super-windy road to get to where I am today).

[And s(b), being a regular poster, you should know how not to judge why so many ppl do it.]

With all due respect, to say “you should know how” related to why people do stuff makes no sense whatsover. I’m not here to judge why. I’m trying to understand why. My opinion doesn’t matter. “You should” is my problem with people and religion. There’s plenty of “you should” in religion without other people laying more on top of those. If I want to know something, I SHOULD ask questions, which I do. Will I judge someone for fronting? There but for wanting to feed my family in my home go I. (no.)

[Will it change? I doubt it. It will only grow and grow.]

I hope you’re wrong, for Judaism’s sake.

[And yes the Crisis that all frum ppl are moving to lakewood, is true, except if you are connected somehow to a community, there is no reason you should live among Hot Chani’s and Escalades.]

For whom is it a crisis that frum people are moving to Lakewood, other than the local non-Jewish Jersey shore population?

There’s “you should” again. Who are you to say why or where people should live? Who is anyone to say that for anyone but themselves? If you don’t want to live among hot chanis and escalades, move to the part of Amish country where they don’t use cars. I’m sure there are still attractive women there, but you won’t see escalades.

Hey, it's my favorite free, downloadable Haggadah!
I realize it's not ortho. It's stocked and stacked, though, and if you need lots of copies, you can download and print at your local fedex/kinko's in time for seders. It's not the old red and yellow one -- it's more user-friendly, and has full transliteration and lots of other things, in addition to all the regular haggadah stuff.

I love haggadahs (except for the part where it talks about asking God to do not nice things to our enemies and stuff -- I prefer the see a skull in the water>drowned>drowned>goes around comes around approach of pirkei avot, for that sort of thing, and I figure if I'm on it, God's on it, and knows what's up and will take care of anyone who's messing with me when the time is right, even if I never hear about it. Sometimes it's better that way; I'd rather not hear about bad things happening to people, and I certainly don't want to be given opportunities to be tempted to be happy about that, even if I feel it's deserved). blah blah blah

It's an awesome haggadah. If you have a haggadah that you'd like to recommend, please feel free to do so. I love checking out new Haggadahs. I will give cheers to the Santa Cruz haggadah, too:
It's by no means a traditional Haggadah, but it's got some great food for thought and is worth a read, imo. The website has some fun stuff on it, too, if you poke around.

other email dialogue that inspired me to start this blog will go here

[warning, may contain foul language which I'll edit out later] not trying to tease, just have too much work to do now. here's an excerpt. please wait to comment, 'cause there's more to this. thanks.

I don't think I'll ever call myself frum. Having a kosher kitchen (that's the plan) isn't being frum (not penguin frum, anyway).

Honestly, if I fell in love with someone who was into keeping shabbos, I'd probably keep it. But THERE'S NO FUCKING WAY I'd not go see live music during the three weeks, or the nine days.
Tisha B'Av, in the right relationship, sure (and I realize that would make me nothing but a poser of observance, which is why I'm just doing my thing at my own pace and if I meet someone who can deal with that, that's cool, and if not, that's fine, too). [sarcasm]besides, at 31, I'm an old maid, and no one frum will want to marry me anyway.[/sarcasm]

...I get it I get it I get it why people don't listen to music during the 3 weeks, 9 days, etc. I also work at music festivals assisting an acupuncturist, and in rabbinic chess, health care beats shabbos, so damn straight it beats sitting around mourning the temple.

Besides, I'd rather spend 3 weeks on tikkun olam projects, instead. That would be a lot more constructive than sitting around feeling like
I can't. I'd rather focus on the I can, maybe make some positive change to the world. ...

I don't know; I've reached a point where I realized that any guy I meet who gives enough of a shit about Judaism to like it and be able to hang with the MO side of my family is probably going to be some sort of observant, so I've got to be able to deal with that. I don't mind being observant, I just mind being told what to do and when people are observant without thinking about why they are and expect me to do the same. I can't do that.

[going back to tisha b'av and stuff] I have a lot of problems with the whole yearning for the temple to be rebuilt thing. And with "next year in Jersusalem," 'cause if anyone wants next year in Jersusalem, they can buy a plane ticket and make it happen, they don't need to sit around longing for it.

I realize I'm probably hypersensitive about tznius, now that I'm actually aware of it. I'm sure I'll get over myself. If I were a guy and I saw girls pulling that sort of thing (like you described), I'd probably mess with 'em, too.

Religion's not logical, might as well have some fun with it.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

from an email I wrote to a fellow blogger about guys and stuff.


If I'm actually in shul, I daven (as long as I'm there, might as well, you know?). The only dude I'd ever looked for in the men's section before was my dad.

But there I was at this wedding, and there were all these men (and after quickly determining who probably had a wedding ring on or was under 18/over 50 and ignoring them, there were still some guys left over. Huzzah! Probably-single men in nice suits ready to rip it up like folks at orthodox weddings do.

It made me realize it will be impossible to marry anyone, or at least I'll have to send an acclimation guide [along w/audio disc of od yishama and other tunes people should know at weddings] to my non-Jewish, music-loving friends to prepare them for that sort of experience, along with the invitation, if/whenever I do wind up getting married.

I'm thinking a bonfire wedding at Harriman on L'ag B'Omer in 2010 (it falls on a Sunday, then). Oh, wait, I'd need to meet someone first. lol Someone that I like and who likes me.

I think you hit the nail on the head the other day when you wrote something like having a blog means running into cool people -- yes -- marriageable, not so much.

I don't even know what hashkafically means (I have since learned what it means), but I think it's agreeing about whether or not to cover hair/wear skirts/etc., based on context. That stuff's pretty important.

On another level, and maybe it comes from being a few years older (and that I'm willing to be w/someone and wind up being more observant, not less observant [and I feel like a jerk writing people off for putting "not at all" in the slot about keeping kosher, but I'd really like to be with someone who cares to some degree about that, and (I'm adding returns so it's easier to read. I know how to form a paragraph.)

I'm not going to feel bad for wanting to be with someone who understands that not eating milchigs and fleishigs together isn't about being some sort of penguin droid with no brain [which is not to say by any means that all who dress like penguins are brainless droids -- far from it], it's about being compassionate -- and

I wouldn't want to be with yanky who sits and learns all day if he doesn't understand that I don't eat cheeseburgers anymore 'cause I want what I eat to remind me to be compassionate and to reflect compassion as a conscious choice,

not to rack up points on some tzivos hashem mitzvah mission like when I was a kid, or because some dude with a beard in the sky played telephone with moshe a million years ago), or to get me a good place in olam haba

(I'm the one who's got to die when it's time for me to die, so let me live my life the way I want to. -R'Hendrix)

but I also write people off who don't write cat in the pets they like, so I guess I'm really, really shallow]. (kidding -- I have cats. I don't want to be with someone who can't hang with cats. I don't feel bad about that, either. If I met someone [not online] who was super-allergic to cats and he and I fell in love, I'd consider finding them homes. Online, though, it's easy to be picky, I suppose.)

Yeah, it's time for me to get a blog of my own. lol
Good. Maybe it'll help me meet somebody.
Gotta fix my front brake first, tonight.
Priorities! :) Camp rides.

3/18/08, 8:38 PM

Post-script: Brake pads have been changed, but the actual brake needs adjusting. -4/16/08

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Kicking it off

with a little Kook (Disclaimer: I don't agree with everything by anyone)

The Fourfold Song

There is a person who sings the song of his soul. He finds everything, his complete spiritual satisfaction, within his soul.

There is a person who sings the song of the nation. He steps forward from his private soul, which he finds narrow and uncivilized. He yearns for the heights. He clings with a sensitive love to the entirety of the Jewish nation and sings its song. He shares in its pains, is joyful in its hopes, speaks with exalted and pure thoughts regarding its past and its future, investigates its inner spiritual nature with love and a wise heart.

There is a person whose soul is so broad that it expands beyond the border of Israel. It sings the song of humanity. This soul constantly grows broader with the exalted totality of humanity and its glorious image. He yearns for humanity's general enlightenment. He looks forward to its supernal perfection. From this source of life, he draws all of his thoughts and insights, his ideals and visions.

And there is a person who rises even higher until he unites with all existence, with all creatures, and with all worlds. And with all of them, he sings. This is the person who, engaged in the Chapter of Song every day, is assured that he is a child of the World-to-Come.

And there is a person who rises with all these songs together in one ensemble so that they all give forth their voices, they all sing their songs sweetly, each supplies its fellow with fullness and life: the voice of happiness and joy, the voice of rejoicing and tunefulness, the voice of merriment and the voice of holiness.

The song of the soul, the song of the nation, the song of humanity, the song of the world--they all mix together with this person at every moment and at all times.

And this simplicity in its fullness rises to become a song of holiness, the song of God, the song that is simple, doubled, tripled, quadrupled, the song of songs of Solomon--of the king who is characterized by completeness and peace.

-Reb A.Y. Kook Orot Hakodesh II, p. 444 (copied and pasted from: