Archive for April, 2009

Random Links of Interest

  • SrullyW While there are different minhagim regarding listening to music during the Sefirat HaOmer period that we find ourselves in, I found it both interesting and courageous nevertheless of Srully Williger to market his orchestra by saying that we could satisfy your needs…even in the recession. See his site or the picture to your right.
  • I grew up sharing a room with my two brothers. As such, while this “room divider” may appear chic, the fact of the matter is that we set  this trend a long time ago!
  • On a totally different note, Bnos Chana Seminary was kind enough to post on their website this image of the wedding picture of HaRav and Rebbetzin Chaim Pinchas Scheinberg  shlita. Talk about seeing a special Gedolim picture!
  • Once Sacred Now Their Showcase

Did you know that Chometz is a mnemonic?

The following nmemonic is excerpted from “The Short Vort Email”  of Rabbi Ron Yitzchak Eisenman:

I give a brocha that all of us this year (and of course myself as well), that we should truly be able to rid ourselves prior to Pesach of all of our Chometz. The physical Chometz and the spiritual Chometz as well:

What is the spiritual Chometz that I am referring to?

Chometz is spelled- ches, mem, and tzadik.

Ches- stands for Chutzpah. May I be privileged this year to remove and to burn from within me all of the Chutzpah which I can sometimes display towards others. Chutzpah in all of its forms is insidious and damaging, it destroys families and marriages. All of us should do our best to rid ourselves of this venomous character trait of being Chutzpadik. Do not think this malady is limited to the children of the community; not true, all of us must work and work hard to eliminate this trait from ourselves!

Mem- Stands for Machlokes. How we go into Pesach when in certain families the fire of Machlokes is raging? How can we stand and burn the Chometz when inside we are enraged with the fire of anger and machlokes against our spouse or our neighbor? This year before Pesach we must destroy the poison of Machlokes from among us.

Tzadik- (self) righteousness. We have to rid ourselves of our feeling of self-righteousness. We are constantly declaring ourselves to be righteous and correct. How often when we are involved in our family issues do we become obstinate and self-righteousness, refusing to apologize and forgive and forget in order to make peace. We use our feigned status of tzidkos – feigned piety- to allow situations of Machlokes to continue and fester.

We must rid ourselves this Pesach of the false tzidkos- false piety -which interferes with our serving Hashem.

We should attempt to be forgiving and not standing on our ‘principles’.

And before I forget, check out Rabbi Eisenman answering one of the most hilarious questions related to the Pesach Seder I’ve ever heard: “How do you open the door for Elijah the Prophet when one is in a submarine?”


Pesach and The Octomom

The Sefat Emet (see Naso 5651 and Vaeira 56) reveals that one of the underlying reasons for the Egyptian exile was to rectify the sin of eating from the forbidden fruit, and by extension, return the world to its original state.

Consequently,we find the midwives described the Hebrew women to Pharaoh saying, “Ki chayot heinah.” The simple meaning of this expression is that the women were like chayot, animals, because according to the Talmud (Berachot 63b), they were all miraculously giving birth to six children at a time!

However, Tiferet Shlomo, explaining this verse from an esoteric perspective, reveals that they had now reached the level of “Chayah,” the level of Chavah (Eve) prior to the sin, and so the curse or difficulty in childbirth no longer existed for them. Accordingly, Tiferet Shlomo (Ki Sisa, p. 71a) says, if not for the sin of the Golden Calf, the world would have reached a perfect state of rectification(also see Shnei Luchot HaBrit 74a and Pirkei D’Rabbi Eliezer, Chap. 45, 107a for further analysis on this topic).

In light of the above, when you think of the leaders of the Exodus, the first names that probably come to your mind are that of Moses and his brother Aaron. And yet, The Talmud (Sotah 11b) relates: “In the merit of the righteous women of that generation, the Jewish people were redeemed from Egypt!” In other words , the driving force towards God performing the plethora of miracles and splitting the Red Sea were none other than the Jewish women and the feminine leadership of the time.

To that end, I found it appropriate that on the Shabbat that proceeds Pesach,the weekly Torah Tidbits had an entire article dedicated to discussing the halachic ramifications of a women who recently birthed many children at one time: The Octomom.

Check out the entire article from The Puah Institute, titled: The Octomom and Halacha here (scroll down to the highlighted section).

Pesach and Music

While we have been cleaning for Pesach for about several weeks now, these past couple of days, there’s been one artist that has arguably gotten a lot of “air time” in our house as of late: Eitan Katz. Not only am I priviliged to call him both a friend and former classmate, but his niggunim reflect a certain tone of kedusha that permeats from the simplicity of the music. As such, I wanted to share with you his Dvar Torah Email that he sent out. If you are in the mood for some great Jewish music to listen to while cleaning for Passover, I’d recommend that you download any of his albums. You will feel relaxed and spiritually uplifted as you scrub, clean, and prepare for Pesach!

Dear Friends,

As Pesach is approaching, I wanted to share with you a beautiful idea which connects Yetzias Mitzrayim to the power of music.  In Likutey Torah on Pesach, the Ba’al Hatanya writes that the Yetzias Mitzrayim which took place thousands of years ago still takes place every day within the heart of every Jew.  Mitzrayim comes from the word Meitzar, narrow, rigid, boundaries.  When Klal Yisroel left Mitzrayim they did not only leave the physical boundaries of the land of Egypt but also broke through the mental and spiritual boundaries which Mitzrayim so tightly kept around them.

Every day, The Ba’al Hatanya writes, a Jew has the power to leave his own boundaries.  I know for myself, and for sure many people can relate to this, that in this crazy world, we feel like we are in our own spiritual jail, not being able to serve Hashem the way we want to.  Pesach is a reminder for us that just like there was a Yetzias Mitzrayim a long time ago, the same Yetzias Mitzrayim- the leap out of one’s boundaries, can be done today.  And here is where the connection to music comes.  The Ba’al Hatanya writes that because the first Yetzias Mitzrayim was eternal, we can look at the way they had acted then during the process of leaving, and apply it to our life right now.

The first act which Klal Yisroel did as a “free” nation was……SING!!!  After they crossed the sea, looked back and saw that the nightmare was over and that Hashem had taken them out completely form mitzrayim, they sang Shiras Hayam.  This wasn’t a coincidence, the Ba’al Hatanya writes.  The natural expression of someone that has just reached beyond their natural boundaries is singing.


Because when one sings, that is also an expression of leaving one’s boundaries.  How many times have we sat around the shabbos table, or at an uplifting concert or kumzitz, where we felt that singing just takes us to places where we never have been before.  When we sing emmesdik nigunim, the feeling should be that we are reaching beyond the places where we thought we couldn’t reach.  This, my friends, is the way how to tell if a nigun is “kosher” or not.  Not by how many instruments is being played, not by the arrangements, not by any of the superficial garbage we have come in contact with.  The only way to identify a kosher nigun is if it makes you feel bigger and greater  than what you felt before.

With this Torah, I released my latest album last month.  I felt that each of the nigunim (whether mine or not) had the ability in them to bring the listener to a deeper and more meaningful connection to Hashem.  I felt that the nigunim would allow a person to see how deep their neshama really is.   And I tell everyone who buys the CD that this is what I felt, but if you don’t feel that way about the nigunim, if you feel they are just commercial and not uplifting, please do me favor- don’t listen to them!

If you haven’t purchased the CD yet, you can listen to clips and purchase it here.

I wish everyone a Chag Kasher V’sameach!


Pre-Pesach Ora Rachel bas Tziporah Bracha Update

We remain everlastingly thankful to Hashem for allowing us to celebrate Ora’s kiddush just a couple weeks ago. It was a special event that seemingly the entire community made sure to attend. Much thanks to Ora’s great-grandparents, Rabbi and Mrs. Salomon Jacobovits from Washington Heights for joining us on this joyous occasion. Likewise, much thanks to Shira Beleck for the hundreds of pieces of sushi that she prepared on Erev Shabbos!

In short, without going into every nitty gritty detail, Ora is continuing to progress nicely and is steadily making improvements.

We know that her progress is part and parcel to all of the Physical Therapy that she has been receiving as well as the Spiritual Therapy in the form of your Tefillos, Torah learning and so on and so forth.

Truth be told, she still has a steep mountain in front of her, as this makkah, this virus, is still something that can potentially strike upon her from head to toe. Likewise, she is still small and a bit fragile.

That said, she continues to show signs of being a stubborn little fighter who also has a warm and bubbly personality!

Accordingly, any Torah learning, Tehillim that you can say or charity that you can give in her merit we would continue to appreciate. At the end of the day, she has only come this far in her overall growth and development due to a steady dosage of both physical and spiritual treatments.

As such, as we head towards the holiday of Pesach, my bracha to you all, is that we merit to experience the ultimate sensation of freedom and healing that will be revealed to the world with the coming of Mashiach ben Dovid!

Anyways, enough from me…on to some recent pictures:

The Top 3 Passover Videos of 2009!

Here in Jerusalem, Pesach is tangible. You can feel the excitement as we edge closer and closer to retelling the miraculous events at our Pesach Seder.

Others however, seem to express their excitement towards the upcoming holiday by emailing me and I’m certain many other friends and family as well, the latest links to inspirational videos that relate to Pesach.

Accordingly, I wanted to share with you what I believe to be The Top 3 Passover Videos of 2009!

Please note: When I was selected the three videos to feature in this post, I did so by only choosing clips that have been produced THIS YEAR.

It is my hope that you find them meaningful, and by extension help you  increase you feel the freedom of Passover.

The Holiness of The Wicked Son!

Passover and the Economy: A MUST WATCH

Egypt: Exile to Redemption by Rabbi Lawrence Hajioff

(Thanks to DixieYid for pointing this class out!)

New Online Grocery in Ramat Eshkol

I remember when Pink Dot first appeared in Los Angeles.

I remember when the first Online Kosher Grocery Store arrived in L.A. It even featured timely home delivery.

I never thought I’d live to see the day that this concept arrived in Jerusalem.

Let alone right in my backyard!

Then again in the past couple of years, Ramat Eshkol seems to offer an ever growing amount of American amenities. Just a couple days ago I received the following via email:

New in Ramat Eshkol! Internet shopping from Eshkolet and Peirot Hatzomet on Bar Ilan. Prices are the same as in the store and the service is even better! American customer service, hassle free.

Check us out at

The site is still being perfected, but we wanted to enable our community to benefit from this service before Pesach as we all know shopping gets quite hectic around Yom Yov time.

Frankly, while I don’t assume every family has 20NIS to throw around on a daily basis, I do think that the concept is certainly a good idea that will take off on this area. Let’s be honest. The average person living in Jerusalem does not own a car. To that end, I can see being a great asset to a pregnant mother who simply can’t walk around in the summer heat, or to another mother who would prefer to shop without kids pulling items off of shelves, and so on and so forth.

I wish much success and who knows maybe we’ll end up giving their service a test drive one of these days!

Timely Pesach Related Links of Interest!

With Pesach soon approaching, I’m assuming that I won’t have time to write my thoughts on individual topics. As such, I’ve compiled a short list of Timely Pesach Related Links of Interest. I’m certain you will enjoy!

  • For all those who are also cleaning for Pesach, whether you are male or female, I urge you to check out this video and this article written by Jewish women that reveals a practical and spiritual side to Passover cleaning.
  • We live in an era in which people will use the following expression, “just Google it!” In fact, nowadays you’d be looked at as the funny one if you didn’t know what that weird sounding word that starts with a ‘g’ means. Accordingly, being that we live in the “Google Era” this video insight is a quick but relevant thought in terms of the eternal relevancy of Torah, which we ultimately merited to receive only after crossing the Red Sea.
  • Speaking of Google, this image of the Jewish people crossing the sea is inspired by Google Earth and is well worth viewing (see here for a couple more fascinating images using Google Earth. For another contemporary image of the Exodus see here) in that it will help you fulfill the obligation of visualizing that you too are crossing the Red Sea.
  • Various studies all come to one conclusion: Across the various denominations of Jewry, Passover is the most celebrated Jewish event. To that end, this recent study is worth paying attention to in that it sheds light on the future of the Jewish people. Remember it is on Passover that we officially became a Nation.
  • Finally, check out this relevant article that discusses Passover & four questions for a financial crisis.

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