Shomrei listens!

I belong to the Shomrei email list, so when they sent out an email saying to check out their website to see pictures of the construction, I went and checked it out. While at the website, I noticed that Shomrei has a suggestion box. So I figured, what the heck, I’ll give them my idea of taking away a few parking spots between the driveways.
Within five minutes, I got the following reply:

[Aishel], thanks for this, I’ve forwarded it to the building committee
folks, Sounds like a good suggestion to remove those parking spots.
Thanks again.

I replied with:

Thank you. The whole problem is that the two cars that park between the driveways block the view. Without them there to impede the view, people would have no problem leaving safely. Especially when the cars parked there are SUV’s and vans.

Again, with five minutes, I received the reply:

I agree, and [name of building committee head] just told me he likes the idea a lot – the problem is that if we want to do a “no parking” zone the city has to approve it and put up the signs, so he’ll look into that. Thanks a lot.

I’m happy that Shomrei listens so actively to their members suggestions! Even their ‘Under 30’ members. I’m looking forward to seeing how this pans out.


Bringing kids to shul

Over the years, I’ve experienced many different parents bring their assortment of kids to shul. And almost every time, I get upset. Don’t get me wrong; I think that many kids are suited to go to shul. But there are just too many times when the kids end up being a distraction to everyone else.

At the hashkama minyan today, someone brought their daughter to shul. I’m sure the guy had the best intentions. Maybe his wife was sick and he was trying to get her out of the house so that she could rest. But if you’re going to have a daughter talking very loudly during shmone esrei, maybe he should have brought her to a park instead. Especially since this continued throughout davening.

I used to go to another hashkama minyan before I was married and I remember that there was this one guy who had about 10 kids, the youngest being 10 (with one set of twins). And each week, without fail, six of the kids would show up for mussaf. And talk. And fight. And eat. And make messes. Only after the shul members got the rabbi involved did he finally stop bringing the kids to shul.

I understand that people want to be mechaneich their kids to learn to appreciate shul and davening. But if all they do is eat candy, chips, and pretzels, while being told to be quiet every 10 seconds, what is being learned? That if I come to shul I get candy? Is that the right approach?

Again, don’t get me wrong; I know that some kids can handle shul very well. I see one kid almost every week who when he comes, he davens with his father, sometimes reads a book quietly, but then goes to youth groups so as not to disturb the others who are trying to concentrate on davening.

I know it’s impossible to set standards of who can come to shul and who can’t, since each child is at a different level, but many parents have to wake up in terms of seeing the reality of whether or not their child belongs in shul.

Shomrei’s safety attempts

It has been a few days since I was at Shomrei, but as I left this morning, I noticed that they had put in one of those curved, safety mirrors that allows you to see traffic that would otherwise be difficult to see. As I was approaching the exit, I said to myself, “Wow, what a great idea, it’s always impossible to see anything when you leave!” But when I actually got to the street by the exit, I noticed that it was totally useless. In order to look at the mirror, your car needs to be 8 feet away from the curb. And if there are cars parked between the Shomrei entrance and Shomrei exit, then all you see in the mirror are the two parked cars. If they really want to make it safe, what they need to do is take away those two parking spots between the entrances. I know the parking situation is bad enough as it is, but I think safety trumps convenience.

Oh well, at least they tried.

Speaking of Shomrei, here is a bird’s eye view of Shomrei with all the original buildings still in place.

Tehillim 83

I found something fascinating in the news tonight. Apparently, an engineer in Ireland was digging up some swampland for commercial buildings when he happened upon an ancient Sefer Tehillim, only 20 pages long. What I found amazing about this story is that when found, the book was open to Psalm 83, the very same chapter of tehillim we’ve been saying three times a day every day at the end of each davening.

Here is a link to the story

May what is contained in this kapittel come true.

Update at 10:55pm on July 29, 2006:
After much confusion, it looks like it wasn’t open to the Tehillim 83 as we know it:

Irish museum clarifies text found in bog
Jul. 28, 2006. 01:00 AM

DUBLIN—An ancient Irish manuscript found in a bog last week does not refer to “wiping out Israel,” the National Museum of Ireland said yesterday, after a flood of inquiries wondering at the timing of the discovery.

On Tuesday, the National Museum of Ireland announced what it said was one of the most significant Irish discoveries in decades; an ancient Psalter or Book of Psalms, written around 800 AD. It said part of Psalm 83 was legible.

In modern versions of the Bible, Psalm 83 is a lament to God over other nations’ attempts to wipe out Israel. Many commentators wondered at the coincidence of such a discovery at a time of heightened Mid East tension.

The confusion arose because the manuscript uses a 4th century Latin translation of the Bible known as the Vulgate, which numbers the psalms differently from the later King James Version, the 1611 English translation from which many modern texts derive.

“The above mention of Psalm 83 has led to misconceptions about the revealed wording and may be a source of concern for people who believe Psalm 83 deals with `the wiping out of Israel'” the museum said. In fact, the text visible on the manuscript refers to the `vale of tears,'” found in Psalm 84 in the King James Version.


Israel Rally

I just got back from the Israel Solidarity rally in downtown Baltimore, and it was really nice to see so many people. My favorite speech came from Governor Ehlich, with Congressman Ben Cardin coming in second place. Mayor O’Malley also spoke, but not too many people were into it.

Either way, here is a link to the pictures I took.

And here is a link to video coverage by WJZ TV.

Update at 5:19pm:
Here’s a picture from the Baltimore Sun:

Update at 9:18pm:
Here’s the Baltimore Sun article about the rally.

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R’ Keleman on Relationships

I went to a shiur by R’ Keleman last week on relationships. It was amazing! Of course I can never say over anything the way it was originally given over, but I’ll try. FYI, the audience was a non-frum crowd. My favorite part was the last two paragraphs.

He said that before he became frum, he went to a yeshiva in Israel to stay these seemingly pagan worshipers who did everything with blind faith. While there, he made lists of all the things that truly bothered him about Judaism. Ironically, it was these things that made him later appreciate Judaism the most.

One of his problems was Jews attention to detail. If you ask someone what time Shabbos starts, he’ll answer “8:43!” Does it really matter if you start Shabbos at 8:44? Does it make a difference to God when it actually starts? In another example, when shechting a cow, the shochet needs to cut 50.00% of the trachea and esophagus in order for it to be a kosher shechita. If its 49.999%, it is not considered a kosher shechita. Again, why? Who cares? Either way, the animal is in no pain when being slaughtered, so let it be kosher! Why such great attention to all the details of all the mitzva’s?

Another question he had was regarding tefila. Why is it codified that one has to actually say the words of shmone esrei, and thinking the words is not enough? Does God not know what is in your mind? Why is it necessary to say things out loud?

Since the topic was on relationships, R’ Keleman then tied it all together.

As a marriage counselor for 20 years, R’ Keleman noted that the couples who came for marriage counseling didn’t come for big intellectual issues that were threatening a divorce. Rather, it was the trivial things. One example he gave was about a couple who were about to get divorced over sugar cereal. The husband was a doctor and the wife had a fast metabolism. The husband was upset because he kept finding sugar cereal in the house, and the wife was upset because he kept taking it away and wouldn’t let her eat it. A trivial thing like sugar cereal was about to make a couple get divorced. He said that it’s these small details that can make a marriage go bad. However, the small details can also make a marriage go from good to better.

For example, if a man were to remember that Monday was his 25th wedding anniversary; that does not prove love. However, if he were to remember that on his first date they shared a specific wine that they both enjoyed, he remembers what she was wearing, and the particular way she likes her flowers made up, that shows love. It is the attention to the fine details that express the love. The more detail that you pay attention to your spouse; the more you love your spouse.

It’s the same thing with mitzvos. The more you pay attention to the fine details within all the mitzvos, the more you can express and appreciate your love to and from Hashem. This is why we are so meticulous in everything we do. We want to increase our love for Hashem.

Next, he talked about terms he called masculine speech and feminine speech. He defined masculine speech as speech that gets things done. For example, “we need to change the light bulb,” or, “I’m going shopping.” Feminine speech is more like “How was your day at work,” and “this is what I did at work…” Both males and females talk both types of speech, but masculine speech is more common with males, and feminine speech is more common with females. In conversations between husband and wife, the wife engages in a lot of feminine speech. The more she talks and shares with her husband, and the more her husband listens, the more her love for him grows. Therefore, it is the expression of speech that enhances the love between couples. If a woman were to have ESP, the husband would never have to say anything, but she’d continue to talk to her husband. In such a case, only the woman’s love can increase, as she’s doing the talking. The husband has no verbal communication, so his love for her can’t grow.

It is the same thing in davening. The only way we can truly grow in our relationships with God is to actually talk to him. Thinking about it isn’t enough. That’s why we have to say the words of shmone esrei out loud.

R’ Keleman spoke about many other things, but I’ll share one more thought that he said during the question and answer session at the end.

In the laws of Shabbos, we cannot do Borrer. So if someone has a plate of peas and carrots and he doesn’t like the peas, he can’t remove the peas and leave the carrots. Rather, he must eat the carrots and leave the peas. Why is this? Why does God really care how it is done?

He answered that this is to teach us a lesson. When viewing other people, and especially in relationships, we tend to take the one bad thing that sticks out and focus on that, or in other words, we take the bad from the good.. The law of Borrer teaches us that we have to do it the other way. We should only be taking the good out of the bad, so we should only look at the positive traits of a person and try our best to leave the bad traits for last.

Making our voices heard

It is unusual to have so many people and nations agree and support Israels recent actions. Of course this has its limitations as well, as several nations who support Israel are still calling for ‘restraint,’ but the world does seem to favor Israel now.

While this is a good thing, newspapers are speculating that Israel only has one more week to clean out Hezbollah before there will be a public outcry to Israel’s actions.

So what can we do to keep the support for Israel going? I think that informing others of the actions of Hezbollah is vital. People don’t realize what kind of terrorists they are.

We have to make our voices heard. I’m going to be attending an Israel rally this coming Tuesdsay in downtown Baltimore. Governor Ehrlich and Baltimore Mayor O’Malley are scheduled to speak. Hope to see you there!

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