Tuesday, March 27, 2007

marry me

I am kinda fired-up about this right now... So I am re-posting something i wrote last year.

*I've been taught that, "In the place of a Baal Teshuva, a Tzaddik cannot stand." (BT=person who has returned to his Jewish roots, Tzaddik=righteous person)

So I demand to understand why it is that some ppl are, as I have decided, too stuck up and self-righteous to accept a Baal Teshuva (or someone with BT parents) into their family....

It really makes me sad. Not so much for myself - for I have come to terms with it. But for all of the BTs who have plunged into the "frum" (religiously Jewish) world against the secular current of their families’... Well, how do you think THEY feel? Rotten, that's how. What a lovely slap in the face: "Well, I'm sorry to inform you, but So and So is not interested in marrying someone who is not Frum From Birth (FFB)." Gee.

Here is the supporting argument for someone who feels that way:
- He wants his kids to have frum extended family.
- He wants that she should have no "past".
- He worries that she may be more "experienced" than he.
- He fears the world she knew and has turned her back on.
- He wants to relate to his wife in the way that they were brought up.

Now... All of those reasons I have heard. All of those reasons may be just.

But when (and this applies to whether the guy is BT OR the girl) the girl is from a FAMILY where the FAMILY became more religious, the first reason does not apply. She may not even HAVE much of a past. On the contrary, she may have a past that she not only regrets so completely, but that she works extra hard for the rest of her life to be the very very best she can be! She’s worked so hard, and her only wish is to marry a good “mentch” of a guy so that her children have whom to emulate. She might love to marry a BT, but would also welcome a husband who was always frum. She may not want reminders of her previous life. She may want to move only forward. (Again, he/she.)

It is absolutely disheartening to hear that the “frum” world (generalization, yes) condemns BTs in the "Shidduchim Marriages" department, when (GO LUBOBS!) they’re all ABOUT bringing people closer to Judaism. It’s like, ‘Sure, I’ll kasher your kitchen, but don’t ever think I’d eat in it.’ You know what I mean?

[Side note: It is also frustrating when, in some circles, the BTs get more attention than your mainstream frum person… I’m talking congregation-type settings. Wtvr.]

By the way, I have a theory, which may be shared by others, that we are all Baalei Teshuva. How? We all STRIVE to grow. We all DO work on ourselves and do our best to improve. But sometimes, that is not enough – to TRY.

The following is my support for BT’s –

- Have you noticed that the BT’s have that extra FIRE that FFBs, more often than not, have hidden (notice that I did not say “do not have”)?

- Do you see the constant growth and maturing?

- It is important to them that they keep increasing their knowledge of Judaism and improving their practices.

- They have an appreciation that someone who is frum from birth cannot have.

*I'm not going into detail what my deal is exactly, but my family became closer to Lubavitch over time, until I was in 10th grade that we were finally considered "one of the Lubavitch families" in my community.*

Bottom Line: Passion. Appreciation.

That is a BT.

(You MUST have some thought on this.)

Monday, February 19, 2007

A Student's Quest For Truth...

Shluchos is about answering questions among other things...
So here, I have decided to post the answers I gave to a student on campus here - I responded to his facebook note that he tagged me in, and then at this past Shabbat dinner, specifically asked me to provide complete answers.
I gave it a shot... Let me know what you think.

1.) Why do you get out of bed every day?
2.) Why does it matter or hold importance to you in a way that motivates you?
3.) How do you treat others(both friends and strangers, preferably separate answers) ?
4.) Why do you treat them the particular way you do?
5.) How do you determine who is a friend and who is not?
6.) Aside from the obvious(breeding), what purpose is there for love and sex?
7.) What religion are you?
8.) How does this shape who you are?
9.) If you were given a choice after living a secular life up until your current age, would you still choose to follow the path you just listed in # 7?
10.) Do you feel as if you're under constant scrutiny, as if you'll be judged?
11.) Do you cover for yourself when people don't react how you expect?

1 – G-d has been good to us. He gave us life. And that is the only reason we are here – because He chose us to be. I get out of bed each day, because I know that I have a purpose in this world. I need to do my very best to live up to the expectations G-d has for me. I hope I fulfill my mission in this world, and do my best to represent Him in the work that I do. By utilizing every minute of our lives in the best way possible, we are serving our Creator. And it gives me no greater joy, knowing I am doing His Will.

2 – Goals give a person reason to live. When there was a period in my life when what G-d wanted of me wasn’t as important as what I wanted out of life, very little motivated me. Now, I thank G-d that I have prioritized my life, to try to live according to what I know is right.

3 & 4 – How do I treat others? Well, I know that every person is precious to G-d, so I try to respect everyone equally. Sometimes, people do things that make me respect them less, but I have to remember that they too, are here for a reason. Even when someone ACTS wrongly, his soul is still holy and dear to G-d.
Also, I personally like almost everyone. I seem to gravitate toward happy people, and make friends easily. I love people, and appreciate them. I try to, at least :)

5 – I have many friends. Some are “friends” like the ones who add me on facebook or who say “whats up” and keep on walking past me. Then there are acquaintances – people I’ve met but don’t know too well yet. Then there are people I’d call friends, who I continue to get to know and who continue to try to get to know me. I am blessed with some very close friends, who I trust with my thoughts, dreams, emotions, even my life. I try to befriend good people, because friends have the most influence on a person.

6 – Love is complicated. I love many things, I love people, and I love G-d. When you say, “I love you,” you have to think, “Do I love this person, or do I love the way this person makes me feel?” (example – “I love chicken” Do I really love the chicken? No, I love myself.)
Why is there so much pressure on relationships these days? Because, the human being has become ever so dependent upon how external forces. Therefore, we enjoy feeling needed, loved, cared for, and plain old “good”.
Sex today is not what it is meant to be. It has, has over time, become something far less holy than it should be. Sex should be something sacred, shared solely between a married man and his wife. Something discrete, unifying, and ultimately holy.
Sex has become a weapon, a tool, and a means to a destructive end. It is no longer valued as sacred, which is truly what sex is. Animalistic desires were also created by G-d, for He gave us free Will, to choose. And with our choices, we either strengthen our connection to Him, or, G-d forbid, sever it.

7 – I am Jewish. The sect of Judaism I identify with is that of Chabad.

8 – Judaism shapes who I am by giving me values and goals.
Chabad shapes who I am by giving me a positive, enlightening perspective and outlook on life.

9 – I have chosen to live my life the way I do. It was not forced upon me, I was guided, but ultimately, I chose to live my life the way I do. And I could not be more fortunate.

10 – I know that I represent Judaism in my line of work, but I also represent Jews 24/7. I try to be a good example to others, just to give them a glimpse of what a proud Jew is like. Because that’s what I am. I am proud to be Jewish. People judge. We all do it. But, if you are proud of who you are, what you represent, and where you are headed, it should not faze you. Rather, it should be a constant reminder to be on our best behavior!

11 – Since I am proud of who I am, a religious Jewish Chabad girl, I do not bend to negative influence, or reactions. I often explain myself. I explain what I represent, why it is a true way of life, and why I chose to live my life this way. Yet, if the person seems to be uninterested or close-minded, I don’t bother. I’m not out to get everyone to believe the way I believe, but I would love to show them!

Thursday, January 04, 2007

ok... i owe u an explanation...

yeah i stopped blogging...
please just let me go peacefully...
dont ask me why....
theres no single thing that made me stop...

im just not feeling very inspirational - thats the main thing.

but thanks! ill keep reading other ppls blogs when i come across them.
rock on, ppl!
ur all awesome.

Monday, October 30, 2006

birthday blessings.... to you.

happy birthday to me.
and to you, every blessing in the world.
have a wonderful life, full of meaning, sensitivity, passion, happiness, love, success, health, growth, and connection.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Birthday Blues...

Yeah my birthday's on Tuesday. (Hebrew.) So what. What do birthdays mean anyway...
For me, it was supposed to be an acknowledgment of how far I've come, how I may have grown, matured.
But no.

Instead, I have been quite shockingly and rudely informed that I have not matured, that I have not grown. That I'm just the same as I've always been. And worse.

What right does anyone have to make another person feel miserable? What gives them the right to put down others in order to feel good about themselves, pure.

How can someone sleep at night having poured kosher salt on old wounds, causing new abrasions and lacerations to form where the scabs habe practically disappeared altogether?

I do not sleep when I have hurt another person... I would not be able to live with myself knowing that I had caused similar pain to another individual...

G-d must have His reasons for permitting pain. Yet, why this messenger? Messenger of torment...

I am tormented by the thought that here I am, turning 20, and perhaps I have not accomplished much in this world. Perhaps I have not made this world a better place. Perhaps my doings are not needed...

Tough-chick is turned emotional and sensitive by seeing others hurt and internalizing pain. Pain doesn't pass me by any longer. It lingers, becoming fused with my blood.

Every day I jump out of bed. I love what I do and who I am. Passionately.

I pride myself in my positivity. I use my positivity to bring just a little more happiness to an otherwise pessimistic world. But eventually pessimism conquers. Why is that? Why can't optimism conquer all!

Yet, I know that if I let every unfortunate, unplanned, awful, even evil thing that occured affect me, I'd be that shy, withdrawn, muted skeleton lurking in the shadows.

Look at me! I'm no skeleton! I'm in no way shy or silent. And this post here proves I'm not withdrawn!

I am out there. I am happy. I really, truly am. See that, and don't feel the need to bash it. Don't feel the need to make a truly happy person unhappy, a secure person insecure. It's just not fair.

I will not allow it to take me over. I will not permit another's paranoia and jealousy threaten my happiness or identity. It has been the goal of too many people, too many times.

See my strength and resolve.

As I said previously, in a previous post,
The Sweetest Revenge is living well. Just because I might be having pre-birthday blues, I will still be happy and exude that happiness to others... it's not them that were targetted anyway.

Hopefully I'll be able to celebrate my English birthday in NY - give my true friends a good time at least...

Sunday, October 22, 2006


Alright. Reality has hit.
It's like driving, kind of. Whether or not you are driving smartly and safely, the other driver may not be. Your safe driving may minimize the wreckage of an accident (G-d forbid), but you have no control over the other drivers on the road...

(Although I was taught to always drive on the "defense", NYC and LA have brought out the "offensive" driver in me.)

The same is true on shlichut. (A road...shluchos..) Whether or not I am "driving safely and cautiously" I have no control over the "other drivers on the road".

In this case:

"driving smartly" = I am shomer negiah. Period.
"other drivers" = horny men i like to call "kakas" which to me means "sleaze"

Now, everyone here knows what my (our) job here is. Everyone knows that a) I work for the Rabbi b) I am polite and friendly even if "I'm sorry, I don't shake hands" ...


It has only proven to be beneficial to me, to not permit guys to touch me. Suddenly, either men become uninterested or otherwise respectful and mindful of my "boundaries"...

I'll really vent now. Two incidents - two men. i wont even call them men. ill call them animals. bc what it is is animal instinct - "i want, so i shall get". First guy - totally aware of how we work... grew up in Brooklyn, knows exactly whats going on... Got lil "shikkur/tipsy" on Simchat Torah and proceeded to hug me. Not only was it inappropriate and he knew so, but he did it out in the sukkah where there were tons of ppl, the Rabbi, my co-worker, everyone. I couldn't slap him, I couldn't do anything but stand there stiffly so that the guests and Rabbi wouldn't think I'd consented.

Now the second guy... he REALLY makes me mad. Israeli. The REAL israeli kaka. full-blown. He completely disregards the fact that we CHOOSE not to touch and be touched by men. (hes a child.. so far from "man") He purposely stands SO close, slides RIGHT by, sqeezes his way just so, so that he skims me in the slightest way so that I have a doubt in my mind as to whether or not he really did touch me. Forget about violating me, have so respect! The other night it went too far. He let the back of his hand brush against my lil tush... im telling you, and i know i promised my friends that the next time id do something serious about it, well... i couldnt! this was at Shabbat dinner! There were close to 200 ppl there! And this was in the kitchen. I knew I'd blow a fit, get all crazy-dramatic right then, so I stormed out, so as not to blow it indoors. The steam is still hovering over the building we rented out for that event...
What a complete AH. The next two times he came up to me I told him very distinctly that I was not going to talk to him, and that either he or I will leave. First time, I did. Second time, he did. Good.
And the next (G-d forbid for him, cuz im a tough chick) time... oy Hashem help him. He'll be yelping in pain. Be it in the synagogue or out in the middle of the street...

What do I learn from this?
Well, when I came, I lost my tough-chick-ness. Well, i didn't really lose it, but I put it away temporarily. I thought - on shlichut out here, I gotta be nice to everyone. No matter what. I remember that first time a guy hit on me while I was on the job and I caught myself thinking, wow, here I am, and I'm actually going to be polite (tho still professional) back.

It's not like that. Guys will be guys wherever. No matter what you think you are, who you think you are, what I think I'm doing. Yeah, I'm protecting myself against more serious things, but these small things matter as well, especially when they add up.

Ok, I'll go for some coffee right now. I needa chill.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Rug jerked out from beneath us...

I’m laying her trying to imagine what that phone call must have sounded like… and felt like, both on his end and on the recipient’s.
“My father. My sister... We got into an accident. My mother needs help immediately… My father… My sister… There’s nothing I can do…”

I can’t really imagine it at all, though I try, because my brain instinctively shuts it out. When I see him (please, G-d, he should have a complete and speedy recovery) my heart will feel so heavy, I’ll automatically cast my eyes to my feet, the floor between us, his shoes. Then slowly bring my eyes up to meet his, my eyes brimmed with tears. A kid needs his father. And his only sibling…
I only hope that he will find the strength to continue living his life, that he will experience joys that will lift his spirits and his heart. I hope he will bear many beautiful children for his mother. Only then, might they feel a sense of solace and comfort.

Hashem, You test us time and again. You place such a tremendous amount of responsibility on the shoulders of Your Nation – by having the heaps of trust in us that You do. Each time You expect us to be strong, to rise above the incidents that through “ Providence” have shattered our lives. You trust that when You pull the rug out from under us, we will remain upright, with a jump in place our only change in stature. You trust that we will not permit ourselves be swept off the board, whisked away with that rug You so daringly tugged from beneath us…

Well, we will not lose our balance. We will exceed Your greatest expectations and will thrive with an appreciation for life like never before. G-d, may You only see this and be satisfied with it, affecting You in ways only You can see… And grant us the final, and long overdue Redemption.

Our place is no longer in this mad world, where black and white are laced in grey and no one can see the straight path ahead.

Take us to a place where we will be able to see the beauty in Your Will. Where appreciation will be our everlasting emotion, holiness and purity our reality in our thoughts and actions, and “Baruch Dayan HaEmet” our only words.

Take us there, Hashem. Now.


Monday, October 09, 2006

a texas tragedy

Our hometown in texas hosts such a special community.
why tragedies continue to befall our community we do not know, but what we can do is pray. we can pray that this is the final tragedy, that this is the end to galut, and that from here on out there will be only joyous occassions to celebrate.

There was a terrible accident today. A family was westward-bound, to their annual sukkot vacationing spot. How could they have known that this would be their final family car ride..? Both father and daughter were killed on the spot. Peretz, the son, made the desperate call back home. He and his mother were admitted to a medical center nearby...to the intensive care unit. His mother, Masha, just got out of surgery. We are waiting to hear good news. As well as good news concerning Peretz, who is also in critical condition...

your prayers will only help - for PERETZ BEN MASHA & MASHA BAT SONIA.

please keep in mind that Jews all over are suffering. and a unified community in texas mournes yet another tragedy.

baruch dayan ha'emet. may Hashem comfort us.


by passing this on, you are creating a chain of mitzvot. thank you.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Am I Jewish, Rabbi?

"Is my mother Jewish or my father Jewish?
What do you mean?
I'm half-Jewish. My dad is...so yeah.
Why do you ask, by the way?"

Oy. If only he could imagine.

My exposure to such letdowns has only just begun. Sure, I’ve heard stories…People did try to prepare me…But none compare to how I felt when I was shocked with the realization… No, ______ was not Jewish.

It all began on a Friday night here at the Rabbi’s house. It must have been pretty late. Most of the students (20) had gone home. Approximately 4 remained. Guys. They’d stuck around to have a few extra “L’chaim”s with the Rabbi.

With one guy, in particular, I’d had a connection. We’d chatted about Judaism and I’d felt his fire. His passion for Judaism. It always excites me when someone shares that enthusiasm with me. I felt honored that he’d come over to me to say, “Shabbat shalom” and to point out that he really had come. He’d made me smile.

As the last of the straggling guests stumbled none the too soberly out the front door, I turned to the Rabbi, smacked the table, and with a gleeful grin proclaimed, “Rabbi, I’ll bet you that ­­­­­­______ will be frum, or at least frummer by the end of the year." (a more religious Jew)

Yet, instead of sharing my excitement with me, the Rabbi sighed. Deeply. His eyes showed pain. Pain at the inevitable news that I’d made it his task to be the bearer of.

My heart sank. I knew. He didn’t even have to say it.

This boy was not Jewish…

Why am I so bothered by it? Troubled by it constantly?

Because I’d seen his passion for Judaism! Maybe not his Judaism. But Judaism.

And now I know why.

The bright eyes are mirrors of his soul. The soul that is bereft of an evil inclination that a Jew would have, thereby making his service to G-d that much simpler. So that he desires. And is not restrained, as Jews are! He performs Mitzvot to the best of his knowledge. And with infectious joy.

Yet this boy remains a goy.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

yalla ya Nasrallah - song

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yalla ya Nasrallah - song from Israel

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

A Sacred Marriage... VIOLATED; Reconsecrated.

Overwhelmed with emotion, I lightly sway back and forth. I bring the siddur close to my face, breathing in the worn pages of the machzor. My lids are drawn closed by tears welling in the corners of my eyes. The day has finally come.

I stand before my G-d with both awe and the sinking feeling of a minute puzzle piece in the impressive puzzle of a Master. I take full stock of what I am. A TRAITOR.

I am a wicked, selfish traitor. I do not deserve this wonderful husband of mine. Time and again I have displeased him, caused Him pain and grief.

Our marriage is sacred. One no one can break. Yet, I have managed to violate that which I hold dearest and most holy. My marriage to G-d.

As I come before Him, I am humbled. I do not express regret for specific sins I have committed. No. Now is not that time. He is not angry with me for sinning. He is saddened by my choices that have created distance between us. He loves me. How could I have been so selfish, uninhibited, and blind? So very blind…

As a wife, I look to dwell on the qualities of my husband, rather than on the enormity of my sins. My husband is incredible, so selfless, Divine, and endearing.

This year my prayers are formed in a slightly different chamber of my heart. I have definitely matured, yet with this newfound maturity, I have the astounding realization that I have so much further to go. Maturity of the mind, emotions, thoughts, and feelings.

And I will begin by consecrating my marriage to my Beloved, once again.

Ani LeDodi V’Dodi Li / I am to my Beloved, and my Beloved is to me.”

Sunday, September 10, 2006

The Sweetest Revenge


There was once an American farmer and a Russian farmer, both living in their respective countries. The American was out plowing his field when he saw his neighbor driving past in a brand-new Cadillac. The American farmer looked at his rusty, old pickup, then at his neighbor’s shiny, new car, and vowed, “Someday I’m going to have a shiny, new car just like his.”

Meanwhile the Russian farmer was plowing his field and saw his neighbor driving by in the fancy luxury car. He looked at his rusty, old pickup, then at his neighbor’s Cadillac, and vowed, “Someday he’s going to have a rusty, old pickup just like mine.”

Interesting philosophy?

The Russian farmer isn’t going to be any better off himself just because his neighbor loses his nice car. The instinct for revenge is strong. But in the end it doesn’t do a person much good.


The greatest revenge is thriving. Getting back at someone for their wrongdoings at your expense is not revenge. You will, in no way, benefit. Revenge is achieved by looking within oneself and realizing that “I have the power” and really using that energy to reach all sorts of heights.

Think back to a time when you felt hurt. Cheated. Neglected. Insecure.

What was the first thing that came to mind? BLAME. It is completely natural to place blame on other people, situations, atmosphere, time, and especially family, yourself, or the way you were raised.

We all do it. But that doesn’t make it right.

We look at our lives and we think back, to all the things we did, that may or may not have been right. And think how our lives might be better if…

Not only does G-d have huge plans for us. That is true. But He also gave us the tools to make our own decisions and bring ourselves to the potential that He has in store for us. There is no one to blame for not performing our best. It is every individual's duty. Our mission.

Specifically, I am thinking about pain brought upon by another. That other person may justify what he has done to hurt you… And just as he justifies his evil doing, you need not berate yourself for your past evil doing (as long as you know that it was wrong, and that there will be no repeats).

But if you feel anger or hurt due to what another person has done to you – By hurting them back, you only hurt the other person. YOU do not become a better person from it.

Rather, and I speak to myself here, you must rise above it all. Don’t live at the low rungs they lower you to. Live life on the highest rung you can reach at this point in life. The ladder is endless – it reaches into the clouds, up into eternity. There is life to be lived. THRIVE!

THAT will be the sweetest revenge of all.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Let's Make this Very CLEAR!

I want to make something VERY clear.
My previous post was meant to point out the IRONY. Not to put down what I am doing, or what is going on here at all. It is 100% right and 100% my thing. I love it and plan to give my job my all!

The irony is that as we are maturing, kids are told to keep to their own gender and not to mingle with the opposite sex. Now, being that I have (hopefully) matured some, I am being entrusted with this amazing job of bringing Jewish girls and guys together. It is a very rewarding position - as program director - and I intend to do the best I can!

The Rabbi here is amazing. You should see him with the students. They all adore him. I was making phonecalls, and when I say that I'm calling on his behalf, they all get excited, "Oh?!" So I know that he is doing a great job here.

And BH... the girl I am working with.. She's great fun! Love ya, N!

We drive the most pimpish lookin' set of wheels, I tell you - drives real smooth - a COP CAR! Seriously! Her bro (previous owner) even placed this yellow light on it! It's great - wewewewewww!!!
Now, please help us with gas mula. Yah. Tenk you!

Now about the budgetting.. This is a first for me. Yeah, I should've been on a budget last yr in Israel (Thanks DAD! :)... But now I'm learning to be a responsible adult!
Oh no!!! I'm NOT turning 20... Help! Why do we have to grow up?? WHY?!!

Monday, September 04, 2006

Walking a very thin line...

Sometimes we think we are doing something right, when it is really very wrong.
Sometimes we fear that we are doing something wrong, when it really is very right.

If only all things in life were so clear cut...

There is a very thin line. There's no such thing as grey. At all. Rather, it is called a thin line. Why? Because the "grey area" leaves room for "greyness", whereas a "thin line" is a hair's breadth, and can lead one from the white zone into the black zone in virtually no time at all.

There IS black and white. The problem is that we are human. And since we are created as limited creatures, we cannot always distinguish the difference between what is black and what is white. Or we would rather not...

For example -
A religious Jewish girl knows that speaking with the opposite gender is a big "No No". So when it is on the protocol in the very supported world of shluchot (Jewish Outreach Program), the girl may very well feel confused. Why, all of the sudden is it not only OK to talk to guys, but even encouraged?

There are obvious borderlines - Do not go to parties. Do not get backed into a corner. Do not agree to meet him to discuss his "issues with Judaism". Do not give him your cell phone number (unless he's helping with some event obviously...).

But ordinarilly - No, I would not be all jolly, "Hey, what's up, Mike? Yeah? How's your semester going? And the (Jewish) fraternity? Cool. Yeah, glad you came tonight. Have fun!"

But all of the sudden - its SHLUCHOT. This is how we get them to drop everything they're doing and run to Chabad. Chabad is fun, cool, exciting, and easy! So why not?

I just need to keep in mind why I am here and what I am representing at all times. I never knew it would be this "involved", for lack of a better way to put it.

Good luck to you all in whatever outreach you are able to do. The smallest act can change a person's life for the better. For the best, see Chabad! :)

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

An Intimate View on Intimacy

Conventional wisdom says that sexuality is a natural instinct. It's a very common and innocent human activity, it's what happens between a man and a woman, it's what people do and all we need to do is relax and enjoy it, right?

It seems so simple. But if it were so simple, why do we need to be reminded over and over again that it's natural, it's innocent, it's pleasurable, it's what we do, it's what happens, relax and enjoy it? In fact, the media has bombarded us with that message for so long and in so many different ways with such ingenuity that you have to wonder why the message hasn't been accepted. Why are we still so uncomfortable, so unsure, so mystified by our own sexuality?

In the world that the Almighty created, there are three conditions. First, there is the secular, weekday, mundane condition--ordinary, common things that we possess. Second, there is the holy, Divine condition--so heavenly that we don't have these things at all. These two parts, so far, are pretty easily accepted and understood. The difficult part is the third condition, the sacred. Although sacred means set aside and unavailable, the sacred is not totally unavailable. The sacred is that which is holier than the ordinary, but not so holy that we can't approach it at all. It's something in between what we have and what we cannot have.

Confused? Let's use a simple example. The Almighty grants us the blessing of children. So, we have children. Your children. My children. But when we say "my children," is that a possessive "my"? Do I own my children? The answer, of course, is no. They're not really mine. They don't belong to me. When I say "my wife," is that a possessive thing? Does "my husband" means that which belongs to me? Of course not. And yet, we can use a term so familiar as "my" in referring to these things in life. That's the sanctity in life, and if we're not careful, in our arrogance, we can lay claim to things that will never belong to us and lose their sanctity.

So, where does sexuality fit in? By its very nature--not by divine decree, not by religious belief or dictate--sexuality belongs to the arena of the sacred. We experience it, but we cannot own it. We can go there, but we don't belong there. We can be sexual, but we cannot possess our own sexuality. The reason for it is very natural and very basic. To be intimate means to go into a place that is private, that is sacred, that is set aside. Sexuality means one person entering into the private, sacred part of another human being's existence.

You cannot own another person's intimacy. It's not available. Even if the person wants to give ownership. Can't do it. It's not sharable. It's one of those things in life that the Almighty gives us that we can never possess. I cannot possess my children. I cannot possess my spouse. I cannot possess my Creator. I can't even possess my life. I, certainly, cannot possess the other person's intrinsic, sacred and unsharable part.

Well, if it's that unavailable, if I can't possess it, then what connection, what relationship do I have with it?

This is the sanctity we can experience, but cannot own. And that is why the pleasure in intimate relations is more intense than any other pleasure. You can enjoy a good meal. You can enjoy good food, and it's great pleasure, but it's not the pleasure of sexuality because you possess the food. It's yours. You planted the vegetables, you grew them, you plucked them and you ate them. They're yours. There's no awe involved. The pleasure of sexuality is that it's a combination of having and not having. It's a combination of ordinary and other worldly at the same time. It's something that you are granted, but you cannot own and possess. And when you feel that combination, the pleasure of being in another person's intimate space while at the same time remembering that you don't belong there--it's not your place and can never be your place--that's what makes sexuality different.

The key word is familiarity. With the sacred, you cannot afford to become familiar. With the truly divine, there's no danger. It's out of your reach--forget about it. With the secular and mundane, well, you should become familiar. So where does familiarity breed contempt? Where is familiarity really destructive and unwelcome? In sanctity. If you become familiar, too familiar, with the intimacy of another person's life, whether physical, emotional or mental, then you've compromised the sanctity.

In our tell-all world, visualizing the destructiveness of familiarity might be difficult. But you don't call your parents by their first name... because that's too familiar. We don't use the Almighty's name in vain... because it's too familiar. And for our grandparents and our great-grandparents, intimate relations was a sacred thing not to be talked about... because that would be too familiar. The relationship between a husband and wife was restricted to behind closed doors. It was a sacred thing, something you don't squander, share, or even speak about. That's why our grandparents could not talk about their relationship. They weren't keeping secrets--they were keeping something sacred.

Today, human sexuality is something you're supposed to become familiar with. We claim to already be familiar with our sexuality and we are ashamed to admit that we are not. We've removed the sanctity, all because we thought our uptight parents were keeping a secret from us. The media continues to bombard us with these brilliant, subtle messages of the "naturalness" and "openness" of human sexuality, and it's not convincing us. Try as we might, we cannot ignore what our bubbes and zaides knew: the marriage bed is a sacred thing and the only way it works is when you treat it with sanctity.

Still need proof? Look at those same bubbes and zaides a little closer. Those two people, who have been married fifty, sixty, seventy years, are still a little bashful with each other. They still blush with each other. They still excite each other. That is human sexuality. That is sanctity. And that is the last word on intimacy.

- Rabbi Manis Friedman, a noted Chassidic philosopher, author and lecturer, is dean of Bais Chanah Women's Institute of Jewish Studies. Originally published in OLAM Magazine.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

My Mission

With a set goal, I will not fail.
Not only that, but I do hope to be successful.
I am going on a mission. I will be living in a really great city and running programs for the kids on campus there. I'm really excited!
Why have I chosen this type of community to reside in for the year?
Well, first of all... After being a head counselor for 8 weeks straight, I needed a serious break. Had a great time, gained a lot of experience in many areas (for another time)... but I realized that I would be able to reach people, perhaps even more so, who are about my age.
It will not be easy, I'm sure, to be on campus all the time. I am aware of the challenges and the tests. Or at least I anticipate them and have braced myself.

I need to keep the following in mind:
I am here to affect, not become affected in negative ways.
I am here to grow, and inspire others to grow.
I am here as a role model, a proper example to others, not to blend in.
I am here as a representative of the Rebbe, and I'd better live up to that.

As little as I know - I can still teach Alef, still impart what little knowledge I have of the vast Jewish Thought to kids whose souls are searching. They may not even know it. Those are the kids I am most excited to meet. Those who will become attached to Judaism without having planned to do so.
Hopefully, with my background, I will be able to connect to them in the best possible ways. Hashem, give me strength!

I wish to share my goals with as many as I can - so that their lives can be as meaningful as mine.
Im yirtzeh Hashem - G-d willing!

Wish me luck... :)

Wednesday, August 23, 2006


Empty words
Mindless deeds
Monotonous path
Submissive aura
Not in-tune
Passive acts
Fleeting bursts
Come and go
Inspiring me
Inviting my yearning soul
To freely be.

How distressing for the soul
So removed
From its source,
Hakadosh Karuch Hu.
Forever struggling
To reunite
With our King
For inner peace
And ultimate Purity.

I'm fortunate
Supported by
A lasting bridge
Linking me,
A simple Jew,
And Hashem.
I desire to embrace this
For it's genuine and true
This revealed
G-dly Force
Binding me.

Approaching now
For me, I feel
Through his directives
Life has meaning
Geula's real.
What used to soar
On the horizon
Now in sight.
His streams of wisdom
To every Jew
Revealing light.

I'm fortunate
Supported by
A lasting bridge
Linking me,
A simple Jew,
And Hashem.
I desire to embrace this
For it's genuine and true
This revealed
G-dly Force
Binding me.

This is the song I am recording. Buy Chanale Fellig's CD or email me and I'll send you my track!

Update as of Wed Aug 23 - will not be recording this song. Artist whose music I wrote the song to will not give me the rights to it.
CF still wants me on her album, so we're trying to figure what else I can do... in the meanttime, don't talk to me about it. I'm so bummed out about it right now. What you CAN do is try to think of someone who can write music for me...
oyyy the professional world looks... chaotic and evil. One must step with caution, trepidation.

Monday, August 21, 2006

We will all be going our separate ways...
Fred - shlichut in Philly, Nom & Myr to seminary in Jeru, Zev to seminary in Sydney, and Me... to do shlichut in Cali...
You guys are my world - I love you all and I know we'll always be close at heart no matter how many oceans divide us.
All my love,
niQ. Posted by Picasa

beautiful Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Lone Soldier

After being called to emergency reserve duty two weeks ago and much indecision on the part of the officers of how we would be utilized in the raging conflict, my unit was assigned a complicated mission. We were to penetrate some ten kilometers into Lebanon and root out and engage Hezbollah guerrillas that were concentrated in bunkers on a mountain slope facing northern Israel. Intelligence and aerial photographs described a site that was heavily fortified and defended by several cells of well-trained and equipped jihadists. Despite a sustained aerial bombardment by the air force, Katyusha rockets continued to be launched from the area into Haifa, Nahariya, Tzfat. The decision was made that the launchers could only be destroyed and the guerrillas eliminated by ground troops. The problematic nature of the action foreboded heavy casualties on our side. It’s like trying to pull a rattlesnake out of its hole without getting bitten. Mine is a demolition unit, so the mission fell on us. I was honored to be the heavy gunner that would be on the point team.

After three days of training, we crossed the border into Lebanon on foot, a week ago Sunday, and marched through the night, pushing deeper and deeper into Hezbollah's backyard. At dawn, after the first long night's march, we rushed the small village of Quzah in a hail of gunfire, grenades and missiles, and blew down doors and commandeered homes where we waited out the day. Our orders were to only move at night.

We tried to rest inside the home as best we could, considering the intensity of the fighting all around us. Heavy artillery being fired from the Israel side of the border rained around the blocky outcropping of hilltop villas. Knowing we were in the area but unsure of our precise whereabouts, Hezbollah operatives in the hills surrounding us launched missiles and mortars shells randomly into the homes in the village through the night. Automatic gunfire was everywhere and we had no way of knowing if it was theirs or ours.

Early that morning we received horrible news over the radio: in a village half a mile to our east, an advanced anti-tank missile was launched into a window of a home where a unit we had been working with in parallel was hunkered down. The result was devastating; nine killed, forty wounded. We had been with those guys hours before, sipping Turkish coffee around the buses before we crossed over the border. Now we heard their cries for assistance over the radio.

Our initial objective was delayed as we were ordered to take up positions on a hillside in order to secure the evacuation of the dead and wounded under the cover of darkness back into Israel. In the hours just before dawn, we assaulted the village again and entered into the homes where we laid on the bathroom floor and in other rooms that did not have exterior walls. Quzah would be our home for two long days and nights.

In daylight hours, we peered out the kitchen window at a valley to the east of us and watched as volleys of Katyushas were launched from the brush into northern Israel to our south. It was surreal seeing the Israeli towns across the border from the same perspective as the enemy. It was terrible. It was beautiful.

We did our best to direct the artillery cells and the F16s to the precise positions, calling in coordinates as we peered out of the wreckage of previously shelled homes. If we saw a missile battery that was close enough, we crawled into the streets and fired our own rockets into the brush. The valley was bombarded relentlessly by artillery shells, the cannons systematically sweeping the area, tearing up huge swaths of earth. Every so often a shell would strike something hidden amongst the trees and a secondary explosion would erupt and missiles would fly from the brush in all directions like fireworks on the fourth of July. The secondary explosions were identified by us, and by pilot-less aircraft patrolling the skies; we zeroed in, and F16s swooped in, dropping massive bombs. We watched as huge silent explosions left moon sized craters, and moments later the sound and the concussion would hit us. It was as if the atmosphere would rip in the tremendous blasts, shaking the homes violently.

We remained in that bombed out village for two nights, all the while taking mortar shells and hostile gunfire into the windows of the homes. You could hear the whistle of the mortars as they came down, and you could do absolutely nothing but sit on the floor and hope that it would not fall in your lap. It sounded as if Cadillacs were being catapulted into the village and the explosions shook the already shaky building and chunks of red-hot shrapnel rained down in the streets. At night, we left the houses and commandeered different homes so that Hezbollah would not zero in on our exact positions. We monitored their radio transmissions and heard them directing their fire to where they thought we were. We slept in one-hour stretches, if at all.
After the last of the casualties was evacuated from the adjacent village - an excruciatingly slow process in which another one of our tanks was hit and four more precious soldiers lost - we left the village and continued on our march deeper into Lebanon.

After two nights of hard treks through impossibly difficult terrain, we arrived to a hillside a few kilometers from our objective. Different units commandeered small villages along our route and provided cover for us as Hezbollah cells fired on us from the hillsides. The artillery was constant, pounding any structures that were along our path a kilometer before we would arrive.

As planned, we arrived to a hillside where we waited amongst the scorched brush and shattered terraces for supply helicopters that were to come and drop off water and additional explosives that we would use to destroy the bunkers. After receiving the supplies, we were to continue making progress on foot to execute our mission. We were exhausted, filthy, but happy for the brief opportunity to drop our packs. And then, the unthinkable.

The helicopters arrived gloriously, six of them, flying low over our heads. We had thought the area was relatively secure and the helicopters landed in a field maybe two hundred yards from where we sat behind boulders. After making their drops, the helicopters roared away again one by one towards Israel, again flying low, directly overhead. Suddenly, as if in a dream, I saw a rocket rise up out of a field maybe a hundred yards to the left of us. It took me a moment to realize what was happening, To my horror, the missile struck the fourth helicopter's left side, maybe 40 feet directly over my head. There was a huge fireball, and I don't know if I saw it or if I imagined it, but I pictured the pilot struggling with the controls. We thought the helicopter would crash down on us and there were a few moments of indescribable terror, but the crippled aircraft flew another 50 yards, turned over on its side and fell onto the hillside. There was a mushroom cloud of black smoke that enveloped a huge orange ball of fire as the helicopter exploded. I don't remember if I heard the explosion, I just remember my captain next to me in the bush saying, "my God, my God."

Immediately, Hezbollah mortar shells began to rain down on our position and we dove for cover as the earth boiled around us. The remaining helicopters banked away and flew off, shooting off decoy flares. A second land-to-air missile rocket narrowly missed a Black Hawk that arrived to survey the scene of the crash. It too deployed decoy flares and swooped away. Heavy gunfire ripped through the pitch-black night, but I was uncertain if it was theirs or ours. I saw from where the missile came but couldn't shoot for fear of hitting one of our own in the darkness. This continued for many hours, and when the barrage ceased we retreated back into the valley, leaving a small force in the area to search for and watch over the wreckage of the helicopter. Hezbollah was sure to try to take the remains of the pilot and crew for ransom.

Later, we learned that five of the helicopter's crew died in the crash. The loss was more than any of us could bear, but we considered ourselves fortunate. The helicopter was struck after it had made its drop. Minutes before, it had been full with some thirty soldiers.

Because of the crash, we did not receive the supplies as planned, a serious development considering that we were down to out last canteens of water. In the few frantic hours before daylight, planes parachuted crates of water to us, but we were unable to find them in the rough terrain, and as dawn broke we retreated back to our previous positions before the Hezbollah snipers and mortar men emerged from their bunkers.

We quickly hollowed out and entered into bushes and waited for night to come. To sleep was impossible. I was struggling against exhaustion and dehydration following the previous night's frantic search for the supplies. I had slept maybe four hours in previous four days and the constant burden of the heavy machine gun I carried and my battle vest with some thousand rounds of ammunition had taken its toll. I received two saline infusions in the bush and tried to eat from the few battle rations that remained but was unable to keep anything down. Most of day, three other soldiers and I sat in silence, unable to sleep, each absorbed in his own thoughts, resigning himself to a singular and unforeseeable fate. Some day I will find the words to describe the thoughts that go through your head under such circumstances. To try now would be futile.

When dusk fell, we again geared up. The officers were determined to carry out the mission without further delay, but we were down to our last drops of water. Over the radio we learned that the bodies of the helicopter crew had been recovered. The officers decided to divide the unit into two task forces; one to evacuate the wounded amongst us: three soldiers who had broken or sprained ankles and legs in the previous days' frantic marches over the harsh terrain. They would be airlifted along with the remains of the helicopter crew back into Israeli territory. The second unit was to search for the water that had been dropped from airplanes the night before. After, we were to reunite and make our final push to the mountain slope to put an end to the firing of rockets from that area into our cities in the north.

I was placed in the squad to evacuate the wounded, and as we made our way to the landing site carrying the stretchers, a call came over the radio. A General Staff order was made to all forces operating in the area: immediately stop all proactive measures in observance of a cease-fire, a cease fire that we had no idea was even in the works. Just like that, the war was suddenly over, for now.

With news of the end of hostilities, the decision was made to evacuate me in my weakened state along with the wounded. Again, I found myself in the same area where I watched a helicopter shot down the night before, preparing to board a helicopter myself. The Black Hawk emerged from the black depths of the valley below us. As soon as it landed we ran to it, carrying the stretchers and the sacks with the remains of the dead. We dove inside and immediately the helicopter rose sharply and banked away, shooting flares from its sides to act as decoys for incoming rockets. I found myself lying amongst the dead and injured as the flight crew trampled over us. I could only see the fire from the flares and could have no idea if the extreme banking of the helicopter was a defensive measure or if we had been hit. After a few moments of terrifying uncertainty thinking we would hit the ground at any second, the helicopter leveled off and we rose sharply out of the range of any Hezbollah rockets and flew back into Israel.

I was released from the hospital a few hours ago after being treated for severe dehydration and exhaustion. I just wanted to let everybody know that I am fine. Sorry if I made you guys worry too much.

(Taken from an email I received and cherish...)

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Marry me.

I am kinda fired-up about this right now...

I've been taught that, "In the place of a Baal Teshuva, a Tzaddik cannot stand." (BT=person who has returned to his Jewish roots, Tzaddik=righteous person)

So I demand to understand why it is that some ppl are, as I have decided, too STUCK UP and FULL OF THEMSELVES to accept a Baal Teshuva into their family....

It really makes me sad. Not for myself - for I have come to terms with it. But for all of the BTs who have plunged into the "frum" (religiously Jewish) world against the secular current of their families’... Well, how do you think THEY feel? Rotten, that's how. What a lovely slap in the face: "Well, I'm sorry to inform you, but So and So is not interested in marrying someone who is not Frum From Birth (FFB)." Gee.

Here is the supporting argument for someone who feels that way:
- He wants his kids to have frum extended family.
- He wants that she should have no "past".
- He worries that she may be more "experienced" than he.
- He fears the world she knew and has turned her back on.
- He wants to relate to his wife in the way that they were brought up.

Now... All of those reasons I have heard. All of those reasons may be just.

But when (and this applies to whether the guy is BT OR the girl) the girl is from a FAMILY where the FAMILY became more religious, the first reason does not apply. She may not even HAVE much of a past. On the contrary, she may have a past that she not only regrets so completely, but that she works extra hard for the rest of her life to be the very very best she can be! She’s worked so hard, and her only wish is to marry a good “mentch” of a guy so that her children have whom to emulate. She might love to marry a BT, but would also welcome a husband who was always frum. She may not want reminders of her previous life. She may want to move only forward. (Again, he/she.)

It is absolutely disheartening to hear that the “frum” world (generalization, yes) condemns BTs in the "Sidduchim Marriages" department, when (GO LUBABS!) they’re all ABOUT bringing people closer to Judaism. It’s like, ‘Sure, I’ll kasher your kitchen, but don’t ever think I’d eat in it.’ You know what I mean?

[Side note: It is also frustrating when, in some circles, the BTs get more attention than your mainstream frum person… I’m talking congregation-type settings. Wtvr.]

By the way, I have a theory, which may be shared by others, that we are all Baalei Teshuva. How? We all STRIVE to grow. We all DO work on ourselves and do our best to improve. But sometimes, that is not enough – to TRY.

The following is my support for BT’s –

- Have you noticed that the BT’s have that extra FIRE that FFBs, more often than not, have hidden (notice that I did not say “do not have”)?

- Do you see the constant growth and maturing?

- It is important to them that they keep increasing their knowledge of Judaism and improving their practices.

- They have an appreciation that someone who is frum from birth cannot have.

Bottom Line: Passion. Appreciation.

That is a BT.

(You MUST have some thought on this.)

Saturday, August 05, 2006


I recently encountered an unfortunate situation with a "representative of Rabbi Schneerson."
I put it that way because if we all kept in mind who we represent and what we represent, we will never do anything to hurt another.

Unfortunately I hurt another Jew.
Without even meaning to.

I would like to share this story because I would like to prevent any future miscommunications between people, whether friends, family, or as in this case, a potential business engagement.

The story goes as follows:
I was looking for a job in assisting Chabad Emissaries in any Jewish community I find suitable. In my job search, I spoke with numerous such emissaries. I encountered very many different types of people doing similar work, yet all in different places around the globe. There are social people who are good on the phone, professional-type people who write beautiful emails, and there are those who are not very adept in either area. If I became interested in a certain offer, I would call references, etc., to find out more about the community, the way they run their institution, their style of communication, etc.

(My father has taught me well about communication - successful (bhkybppp-can u guess what that is?) businessman that he is. Communication, connections, and contacts are most important in the business world. Other components are also very necessary, but this is what it comes down to in the end.)

A character flaw of mine - which my father has just so kindly pointed out when I called him all hysterical in lieu of this unfortunate event - is that I tend to over-extend myself in my feelings toward any single individual, idea, or cause, making the other party feel as if I am more interested than I actually am. I didn't know that about myself, don't even know if it is 100% true, but he's my dad... :)

So, one such emissary decided... or rather assumed, that I had committed to work for him.
I remember no such verbal agreement, nor do I have anything documented in emails to support that. I repeat - I never felt that I had agreed to work for him. He must have felt that due to the length of time I spent on the phone with him that I was indeed most interested in finalizing. He knew I was a head counselor this summer and decided not to contact me until I sent out emails to all of my job contacts describing the state I was in - that I was no longer looking for a job with the same partner due to the fact that she was going to be working from home - since her father is unfortunately not as healthy as he used to be (I am leaving out details - may Hashem grant him and all of us a long, healthy life). Yet, he called me at least a week later.I received many replies - regretful replies - but ones of good luck (as I had wished them, as well).

This one such rabbi called me a week later, on a blocked number I might add (did he think I wouldn't pick up?), and very firmly made it clear to me that he had been expecting me and how dare I cancel on him. He gave me 48 hours to "seriously think about it" and call him back "with the good news". I hung up very disturbed, broken, and to tell you the truth - sorry. I could not believe that I had pained another Jew. He was seriously in dire straits, put in the sudden position of looking for another pair of girls only weeks before the school year. I obviously would not accept the job, but I did feel like I wanted to redo the past few months - at least to have sent him an email when I had decided NOT to commit. I DID let him know as soon as I knew that my friend would not be joining me, but that is the past. During the week that I sent the email until he called me, I had found another job, and was almost to the point of finalizing. I made sure to tell the people at job that I had accepted that I would need an official contract to avoid any further misunderstandings.

I hope I never again hurt another person, cause them any ache or frustration... Not easy, but I definitely will try. I will do my best to be clear and not lead people on. I've heard of similar stories, but never contemplated the possibility that something similar might happen to me.

Another lesson I have learned is - that as much as I try to be forgiving, unassuming, non-judgmental, and all - I need to trust people who know me. I won't elaborate too much, but when more than one person tells me not to do go through with something, I should trust them. And then not go through with it - literally - put it into writing and press "send"!!

I am sure he does wonderful work and I wished him the best of luck.

I just hope that not another incident will come back to haunt me. Man, what a week.


Envy kills. Envy hurts. Like a mother.
It causes bitterness and misfortune.

This week's parsha was about how Moses gave over the leadership to Joshua.
G-d said to him, "Your time is up. You're done."
Moses was not happy that he was not going to be permitted into the Holy Land.
He yearned to. His worked his whole life toward the goal of bringing the Jews to their Redemption - to their land - Israel.

And there, he stood, lost in his deep disappointment, though that really does not do justice in defining what he felt exactly.

So Joshua was to be appointed as the next leader of the Jewish People.
Moses begged G-d to at least be allowed to serve as Joshua's disciple, though Joshua had been Moses' disciple up until that point.

Then came the auspicious moment for Joshua to enter the Tent to speak with G-d.

Upon his exit, Moses confronted him, excitedly curious as to what G-d had spoken with him about.

Joshua was unimpressed.
He said, "For all the years as Your disciple, I never once asked you what your business with G-d was."
And Moses understood.

When one is envious of another, he is actually declaring that G-d's distribution of good to His creations is wrong. Rather, we should be accepting of and grateful for all materialistic things we have been granted, as well as of our wellfare in all other areas.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006


(resource - Daniel Gordis)

This is a different kind of war, and an old kind of war. In the last war, when they blew up buses and restaurants and sidewalks and cafes, Israelis were enraged, apoplectic with anger. This time, it's different.

Rage has given way to sadness. Disbelief has given way to recognition. Because we've been here before. Because we'd once believed we wouldn't be back here again. And because we know why this war is happening.

A rocket hit Haifa in the first days of the war, killing no one, but injuring a number of people. It also tore the face off an apartment building, leaving the apartments inside eerily exposed, naked, for all to gaze into. That small block of Haifa, with its shattered shell of a building, rubble all along the street, citizens dazed as they wandered about looking at it all, appeared to be exactly what it was -- a war zone.

And yet, the people in the street stayed near their homes, going nowhere. The newscaster asked them why they didn't go somewhere else, where it might be safer. One man answered with statistics. "Why leave now? We've already been hit. The chances of us being hit again are one in a million." To which another man responded almost with outrage. "What do numbers have to do with it?" he asked. And then, he turned to the camera, almost screaming, pointed to the broken building, and said, "This is our home. Mi-po ani lo zaz. From here, I am not budging." And he repeated his refrain over and over again. "This is my home. And from here, I am not budging." "Mi-po ani lo zaz."

Israelis understand what this is. This is a war over our homes. Over our homes in the north, for now, but eventually, as the rockets get better and larger, all of our homes. This is not about the territories. This is not about the "occupation." This is not about creating a Palestinian State. This is about whether there will be a state called Israel. Sixty years after Arab nations greeted the UN resolution on November 29 1947 with a declaration of war, nothing much has changed. They attacked this time for the same reason that they did sixty years ago.
At first, it was the Egyptians, Jordanians and Syrians. We put a stop
to that in 1949, 1956, 1967 and 1973.

Then it was the Palestinians, who bamboozled the world (and many of us Israelis) into believing that they just wanted a State, and that their terror was simply a way of forcing us to make one possible. We fought the terror in 1982 (Lebanon), 1987 (Intifada) and even after Camp David and Oslo, once again in 2000-2005 (the Terror War). And then, we actually tried to make the State happen. We got out of Lebanon to put an end to that conflict. And even more momentous, we got out of Gaza, hoping that they'd start to build something.
And now, it's Hezbollah. Or more accurately, Syria. Or to be more precise, Iran. What's Iran's beef with Israel? Territory it lost? It didn't lose any. And does anyone really believe that Iran cares one whit about the Palestinians and their state? That's not the reason. We know it, and so do they.

Now, the bitter reality of which Israel's right wing had warned about all along is beginning to settle in. It is not lost on virtually any Israelis that the two primary fronts on which this war is being conducted are precisely the two fronts from which we withdrew to internationally recognized borders. We withdrew from Gaza, despite all the internal objections, hoping to move Palestinian statehood -- and peace -- one step closer. But all we got in return was the election of Hamas, and a barrage of more than 800 Qassams that they refused to end.

And then they stole Gilad Shalit. Not from Gaza. Not from some contested no man's land. From inside the internationally recognized borders of Israel. As if to make sure that we got the point -- "There is no place that you're safe. There is no place to which we won't take this war. You can't stay here."
Because as much as we have wanted to believe otherwise, they have no interest in building their homeland. They only care about destroying ours.

Six years ago we pulled out of Lebanon. Same story. In defiance of the UN's resolution 1559, Hizbollah armed itself to the teeth, and as we watched and did nothing, accumulated more than 10,000 rockets. And dug itself into the mountains. And established itself in Beirut, effectively using the entire Lebanese population as human shields. And, assuming that there was little that we could or would do, it attacked on June 12, killing 8 soldiers, and stealing Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev. Not from Southern Lebanon. Not from Har Dov, a tiny hilltop that's still contested.

But from inside Israel. Inside a line that no one contests. Unless, of course, they contest the idea of the whole enterprise. Which they do. And which is precisely the point. And which is why this incredibly divided and divisive society has rallied so monolithically around a Prime Minister who until last week wasn't terribly popular, and around a war that may or may not accomplish all its military objectives. It explains why, even as the air raid sirens go off across the country, and may eventually start their wail in Tel Aviv, too, as people dash across streets, panicked, trying to find the nearest bomb shelter, no one complains about the government. No one's complaining about the amount of time it's taking the air force to put a stop to this. It explains why all over this city, advertisements on bus stops have been replaced with a photo of an Israeli flag and the phrase Chazak Ve-ematz "be strong and resolute" Even the people who've lost family members, who are interviewed while still overwrought with grief , have no complaints about the government or the army. "Finish this job," they effectively say. "We'll stick it out."

But behind the defiance lies sadness, a tired and experienced renewed loss of optimism, a wondering if it will ever, ever end. Because we know what they want. It's not the Golan Heights. It's not the West Bank. And it's not a State. We know what they want, and we know why they want it.

It's sad, because deep down, people are starting to wonder. Would leaving the country altogether be the only way to get beyond their hate? We got out of Lebanon. We left Gaza. Olmert was elected after he openly declared his intention to give back the majority of the West Bank. But without intending to, we called their bluff. And now we know: the issue isn't their statehood. It's ours.

The sadness comes from the clarity. We can sign peace treaties, and withdraw, and arm ourselves. But nothing's enough. You sign a treaty with Egypt, but then Syria takes over Lebanon and uses Hezbollah as its proxy. You get peace with Jordan, but Iran joins the fray. You learn to defend your border, so they attack you from well within their countries.
It feels relentless, because it is. It feels like it never ends because it doesn't. It doesn't feel like the seventh war. It feels like a continuation of the first. Could it be that we're right back where we started?

Is this like the first war, because we could win it and still not have security? What if, as even the army says is likely, Hezbollah is left wounded but still intact at the end? What, we just wait until they decide to lob more missiles at Haifa or Tzfat, or even Tel Aviv? Bomb shelters will once again be part of the reality of Israeli kids? Have we returned to the late 40's and 1950's, when border towns had to live with the ongoing dread that Fedayeen would sneak across the border and kill people?

Except that now, in an era of missiles, most of the country is a border town.

This is like the first war because Israeli citizens, in the middle of the country, are getting killed by a foreign "army." In 1956, 1967 and even in 1973, we mostly took the war to the border. And then to their territory. Israel's civilian population centers, even in those horrible conflagrations, were left more or less intact. But not in 1948, and not this time. Haifa is the front. Tzfat is the front. Nazarath is the front. And they're all burying people. Adults and children. Jews, and Israeli Arabs. And Tel Aviv, if you believe Nasrallah, may well be next.

And it's like the old wars because all our hopes to the contrary notwithstanding, the casualties are mounting. Just days after the Israeli pundits were discussing whether or not a limited ground incursion might be necessary, whether or not the air force could do this
on its own, there are troops on the ground in Lebanon. Thousands of soldiers, the papers say this morning. And in the few days since they've gone in, kids have been coming back in body bags. These are elite units, and though we're told that they're having some successes in finding and destroying the bunkers built into the mountain, they’re encountering heavy resistance. And not all of them are making it home. We've been here before, too. We'd thought we were done with that. For the first few days of this new war, Israelis were relieved to see the footage of a hundred Israeli planes over Lebanon at any one point.

We'd show them that they'd miscalculated. We'd put a stop to this. We'd get our stolen boys back. A decisive victory, like in days of old. With fewer casualties on our side. But well into the second week of the war, we don't have our boys back. And soldiers are dying, and coming home without legs. And the victory hasn't been decisive. And Israeli cities are still being shelled, and traumatized Israeli kids by the thousands are still sleeping in bomb shelters. Just like in the first war. And it's like the first war because the news is broadcasting photos of lines of Arab refugees fleeing the fighting in Beirut, heading north, or to Syria. Israeli TV is showing footage of a former city that looks much more like Dresden than Beirut. There are probably some Israelis who couldn't care less, but the ones I’ve spoken with, do care.

And so it goes. Another all out war, when it could have been different. If they'd wanted something else. But they don't. Not the Iranians, not the civilians in Syria interviewed on CNN who spoke with admiration of Nasrallah, not the Palestinians on the West Bank who've posted his picture everywhere, and not even the Israeli Arabs in Nazareth who, from the depths of their mourning, blame Israel and not Nasrallah for the loss of of their children. So it's the seventh war (or the eighth, if you count the War of Attrition - or the ninth, if you count the first Intifada). And the first war. It's all the wars. They're all the same, in the end, because we can't afford to lose. We can't afford to lose, so we won't. We will fight. And we will win. More decisively or less, with more destruction of Lebanon or less, sooner or later, we'll win. We have to. The whole enterprise is at stake.

It's the seventh war, or the eighth. And the first. When the 1973 Yom Kippur War was at its height, Yehoram Gaon went to the front and sang the now famous lyrics, Ani mavti'ach lach -- "I promise you, my little girl, that this will be the last war." They never play that song anymore. Because no one believes it. There will be no last war. Until we hail in Mashiach.

It's the eighth war, or the ninth. But it isn't the last war. It's the first war, all over again. We've got this war for the same reason that we had all the others. We have this war for the same reason that people in Haifa are still saying "mi-po ani lo zaz." We got this war for the same reason that we got the first, and the second. We know why they attacked then. And we know why they're still attacking. And we're determined to hold on for the same reason that they're so determined never to stop. There's one reason, and one reason

The Jewish People has nowhere else to go.

G-d gave us this land. “No back’s, plus tax?” Well, we’ve been paying that “tax” and will unfortunately continue to do so, until all Jews realize that He is the One behind it all.


Monday, July 10, 2006


I know I haven't posted in a really long time. Almost a month now, it's scary how much time has passed since that fateful day. A week from today will be the "shloshim" of Benny's passing. I'm going to try to figure out how I can incorporate something memorable and meaningful into my daily schedule for my campers to experience in his memory and honor. Any suggestions??

Well, one thing I am learning this summer. No, many things, but the main thing is appreciation. The next few things include: patience, commitment, selflessness, and devotion. I am obsessed with my job - giving 100% to these kids. Being head counselor has it's challenges (not problems, or dillemas!) but it is more rewarding than anything.

For example, on Gimmel Tammuz, the date marking the passing of our Lubavitcher Rebbe, I had the kids write "letters to Hashem" to place at the Rebbe's gravesite for him to personally bring the kids' prayers up to Him. You should have seen these notes the kids wrote. Each one was beautiful. Some kids even translated theirs into Hebrew or Yiddish. They brought tears to our eyes. Touched our souls. Made us adore them even more. This is why Hashem loves children most, has a special place for each of them in His heart. I have come to love these children so much. They are so special.

Now, about appreciation. This is something I myself struggle daily with here. It has more to do with me, than with the shluchim themselves. I just need to get over myself. The fact that I hear virtually no positive feedback from the Rabbi is really humbling me. I am very quickly learning that I am not here for Me, I am only here for the campers. Humbly, I have accepted this, braced myself against the criticism to be used constructively, and have really embraced my job and thrown myself into it. Now I know what it means to work hard.

Tell me what you think...
Have a terrific summer, and affect people!

Saturday, June 17, 2006


people pass through our lives, whether for a few months, a couple years, or even for a mere moment. remember that guy who asked for a shekel? remember that girl who complemented you on your hair? how about that little boy who made fun of the way you threw a bootball? or the mother who seemed frustrated and on edge? or a friend you lost touch with? how is one to know when that someone might no longer be around.

G-d created a world. and within it numerous creations. funny to think how each has its own purpose, each a reason G-d wants it here.

if we kept that in mind, i think we would not be so horrible. we might even be civil, kind people.

instead, we let people drift in and out of our little minutes, hours, years, lives. why? if each person has a purpose, than wouldnt you want to be as much a part of a purposeful life as possible?

the ache is deep. the pain searing and sharp. i cant see straight and my brain is swimming. but one thing i know. i will not be unchanged by the passing of this brave teenager whose life was taken prematurely today.

every person who crosses my path - i will not forget you.

it used to be that i would never permit someone to forget ME. i made my statements, stood out of a crowd, made people laugh or cringe - if just to keep me in their thoughts.
i dont want it to be just that anymore. i want to remember people. for the goodness in them, for the purpose G-d created them with.

he wouldnt want us to mourne.
hed want us to live life.
he always did.
he lived life and was proud of it.

G-d, dont You see? He came around full circle - tzitzis, a kipa.
I guess his mission in life was complete. His soul is so precious to G-d, that He wants to grasp it in His hands, touch it, hold onto it.

the lives of jewish babies, children, teenagers, adults... Hashem holds dear. so should we.

my hachlata is this: i will never view someone as unimportant or 'just another one'. i will treat you with respect and adoration. i will love you for your soul and for your purpose. i will not take my life for granted, or the life of any other person's. if he lived life with such happiness, so can we all... so can i.

(unedited - denial - drained - bedtime - will i make it to the levaya - hashem if it is Your will that i attend, please make it possible for me to make it there and back via a ride - and back in time for the graduation.)

Though i try with all my might to understand Your ways, to know You, i will never quite understand.

Friday, June 16, 2006

The Future Is Bright

Like a mighty river that flows to reach its source, no dam can hold it back, no ship can struggle against its current. If in our journey downstream we appear to retrogress, to take a wrong turn, to lose a day in failure, it is only because we have no map to know its way. We see from within, but the river knows its path from above. Of one thing we have been given mastery, however: Not of our ultimate destiny, not even of the direction of our incessant flow, but of our journey. How soon will we arrive? How complete? How fulfilled? (chabad.org)

Here we stand, surviving? Existing? But only from our point of view are we independent living beings. Up above, from where we originated and continue to receive life continuously, we are like the sun's rays. Where the sun is, itself, the rays have no apparent existence, for the sun is so bright on its own. Yet earthly beings, G-d knew, must have their own sense of being. Today, thank G-d, we have that power to connect to our source while still retaining our sense of "self".

When we lack the vision and clarity in our journeys' finality and purpose, we need to remember this. We are one with G-d. No matter what, this journey, mine, yours - theyre all in accordance with His Will. We have these challenges daily - whether to follow the journey according to His wishes or to do as our "independent existences" desire - when it comes to how and when we will reach each milestone, and with what sense of purpose. G-d is not limited by time and space. He knows what has been and will be. So, why fear what the future will bring?

The future is bright, for it is all in His plan.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006


Ok, so the year in Israel is over. I'll be back. I'm in a huge state of denial. Denial that I'm leaving at all - I just started to pack now, almost midnight, and I'm leaving first thing in the morning. Well, that's when my plane takes off... With or without me.

There I stood. In the early afternoon heat. Sun beating down on my head and back, the scalding sand giving way to the coolness of the waves. I stand still, the water rising to just over my knees, and close my eyes tightly. This is exactly how I feel. While standing here amongst the many waves crashing against my calves, wetting my hiked-up skirt, and finally washing up the bank of the beach, I feel the symbolism of the moment. The waves have crashed against me countless of times. I've stood my ground, held up my guard, and not given in to the intensity of the pressure. Again and again I am willed to lose my grip, let go of myself, and be washed away.

I will not permit that to happen. I am even stronger today. With each wave washing toward the shore in my direction, my calves become more and more accustomed to supporting my weight and fighting the urge to be knocked over by the powerful force.

I can take it. I will not be dragged down, away from my ever increasing strength and ambition. Dreams and goals keep me going, keep me fighting the opposing forces.

This year has given me just what I need. The vast knowledge and the burning pride that keeps the flame of my soul ever kindled. I am not only a 'yehudi', not only a 'dati', but a 'chabadnekit'! I am a frum, Lubavitch Jew, fighting to keep my spark lit, while lighting the wicks of other lacking souls. May G-d give me and all of us the continued strength to utilize the match that the Rebbe has handed us, to light one soul after another, never losing our own brightness.

(this is unedited as I must go pack.)

Eretz HaKodesh, I will miss you and I WILL BE BACK if I must ever leave. And Medinat Haaretz can go "l'kol haruchot". At the moment, even if just at THIS moment, I would rather be in a corrupt place like America, where the standards are low, than in Israel, where the standards are high and the corruption just as significantly present.


Wednesday, June 07, 2006

World In Equilibrium

“Moshe received the Torah from Sinai.” (Ethics of Our Fathers – Ch.1 – Tract.1)

Commentators ask why it says, “from Sinai” and not “from G-d”?

Well, the well-known story, which Jewish preschools tend to make into the cutest plays, revolves around the following: When G-d was about to give the Torah to the Jews, many mountains came forward and begged G-d to present the Torah from upon their height, due to their seemingly high qualities. Instead, G-d called them “haughty mountains,” because of their boastfulness. In their place, He chose Sinai, the lowest mountain. In a children’s play, a shy kid would be quietly crouching, looking like a tiny mountain, beautiful and serene, and noticed for her holy ambiance. A low mountain, in contrast to a tall mountain, symbolizes nullification and humility.

Both nullification and humility are vital to receiving the Torah and learning it (each year, as well as every day). Therefore, it (The Ethics of Our Fathers) say, “from Sinai,” with the intention that we remember that receiving the Torah should be “from Sinai” – with nullification and humility.

But if we are meant to have this humility, why was the Torah not given in a valley? Or at least a plain, the lowest of the low?

One might think that it would warrant only humility and low-spirit, while in addition to that behavior, it does not negate the pride and strength that must come along with it. For it says in Shulchan Aruch/Code of Jewish Law, “Do not be embarrassed before scorners.” Therefore, sometimes we need might and strength to stand up against those who try to prevent us from serving G-d properly.

In one vein, our Rabbis say that the intent of Matan Torah/the giving of the Torah, was so that the upper worlds would come down to the lower worlds and the lower worlds would rise to the upper worlds. That way, the two worlds were able to fuse together, to make the physical world G-dly. (This is where we learn the purpose of the world – to create a dwelling place for G-d in this world.)

This is what “the MOUNTAIN of SINAI” symbolized: the ‘mountain’ symbolized the upper worlds, while ‘Sinai’ symbolized the lower worlds = physicality. Matan Torah was when the two were fused together, unified.

From a different aspect, a Jew could think: Where do I have the strength and ability to go in this way of “avodat Hashem,” service of G-d – where the unity of physicality and spirituality is a juxtaposition?

Therefore, the Mishna gives us the answer: “Moshe received the Torah from Sinai” – This strength was already received from Sinai. The mountains had it. Now, we too, ave it. If a mountain, something of the inanimate type, the lowest level of creations, has this awesome power to unite both worlds, how much more so must man, the highest level of creation (as speaker), have the strength and capability to make a “dwelling place for G-d, in our lowly world!”

Mashiach NOW!

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Burn, Baby, Burn!

"...The Jewish people are called Neirot, lamps.
A lamp comprises a vessel, wick, oil and flame.
But one must kindle the flame - and then it sheds light.
You have a good lamp, but you lack the igniter.
By sharply striking the stone of the animal soul,
a spark of fire leaps out and kindles the G-dly fire."

- This is the topic of our (tear) last farbrengen in seminary.
I will add comments afterward. I must run back to it now, anyhow.

Hasta la vista!

Sunday, June 04, 2006


I've always lived for the moment. I hate consequences. It's worked well, actually. Live for the moment, don't get caught doing the things you shouldn't be doing in the first place, and it's all good. Until you come to seminary. Until they make you think. And suddenly this thinking becomes so much of your daily struggle that everything else is part of your double-tasking!

I'm talking about getting into bed and not felling asleep till the streams of sunlight begin pouring in through the curtains overhead. These thoughts begin to plague your mind when you are least in the mood. We learn from the Tanya that we control our thoughts. The best way to deal with all of it would be to set a time to properly think about all necessary thoughts that need to be sorted out. But when all you want to do is organize your thoughts, bring them to some sort of conclusion, you can do nothing else but think.

I've been plagued just so. And I've had enough. I'm supposed to be this easygoing, outgoing, fun, crazy, spontaneous person. And what has all of this turned me into? An intense, introverted, thought-provoked mind. Where is the old me? Why am I all worry and plans?

On the verge of hysteria, I hereby state my medium. The mind is vast and great. The mind entertains and challenges. The mind is good. The point of no-return is when one permits himself to be led BY his mind and therefore has no control over it.

Well not anymore. I have made up my mind. I have figured it out. And will continue to figure it all out daily. After all, each day is a gift, something to be cherished and sanctified. Thank G-d.

But no longer will I speculate. I will no longer plan my life in the way that anything that goes "off" (all is meant to be, I know, I know) will get to me. I am in control of me. That includes the mind. And the mind will be at peace.

I am back to the happy me. To the lively, spontaneous, live-for-the-moment me. I will live each moment at its time, each hour, each day, week, month, and year. I will not think too much beyond that, aside from fantasizing of course, for fear of disappointment. And forget about the past, that's over and done with - we are all capable of moving on. G-d has plenty in store for us all. Me inlcuded. Why should I worry? I have trust that He knows what He's doing... HE'S G-D! I will let Him do as He chooses.

G-d, go ahead, while I sieze each moment.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

What kind of blogger/commentator are you?

We learned today in "self-improvement" class (snort) that the following is an inappropriate way of listening:

1: Voice your agreement or diasagreement with what the person is saying to you.
2: Connect what the speaker is saying to your own life and then give scenarios where you can relate to his experiences.
3: Give advice.

These are the proper ways of listening:
1: Body language (if person is present) - nod, keep eye contact, face speaker, etc.
2: Ask good, pertinent Qs to get the speak to think more about what his true feelings are about the matter, and to better understand him.
3: Summarize; repeat back to the person what he is trying to get across.

In what ways DOES it, and in what ways does it NOT?

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Attention: G-d!

Future...scary?..nah. Why not? Cuz I'm chilled with it. It'll come. Some way or another. But it will. And it will be great. And if it's not? I'll make it great! Ya hear that? I WILL MAKE IT GREAT!

Again, I address the issue of "Is this Providence or a test?"
This is basically how it will play out.
(Man plans, G-d laughs?
How about G-d, You plan,
and just drop the gameplan
at the foot of my bed
so I'll have it
when I wake up from this.

I have made a 'keli' in many different areas. I have made it possible for Him to make it happen wherever He deems fit.
I have applied to two colleges. One career oriented and one Jewish. I've been, thank the Good One Above, accepted to YU. I have my schedule all planned out. I can defer, should THE OPPORTUNITY work out.
I want to give. I can take a break from taking, learning, spoling myself, and just GIVE! I think I can do a great job being program director for an up-and-coming community somewhere. Can it please just pull through? I, and many others, I know, suffer from "the tether". We are to blame, as well, for shluchim want us and we want them, but we tend to all be just a little selfish and it doesn't benefit any of us. I wish it were easier, all around. I wish shluchim had it easier. And that youth who are interested in trying out shluchos should have an easy time at it, as well.

The letter I opened up to in the Rebbe's Igros - was very supportive of whatever I am doing. But what am I doing? OY.

Well, that's all for now. My apologies for not having shared what I have enjoyed learning for a while. I hope to get back into the swing of things - shortly. (Hear that, G-d?)

I want to hear some mutual frustration...
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