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?