2007 Annual Rabbi Frand Teshuva Drasha/Shiur

The sound quality isn’t great and the volume is a bit low, but here it is! As always, Rabbi Frand gave his shiur to probably well over a thousand people, all crammed into Shomrei Emunah. Enjoy, and have an easy fast.

The actual mp3 is around 18mb (didn’t have time to shrink it too much), so give it time to load.

[odeo=http://odeo.com/audio/16572823/view]

(link to last year’s drasha: https://aishel.wordpress.com/2006/09/29/rabbi-frands-2006-annual-teshuva-drasha/)

(link to  2003 drasha: https://aishel.wordpress.com/2006/09/28/rabbi-frands-2003-annual-teshuva-drasha/)

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Designer Yarmulkas

While in shul this past shabbos, I was spacing out, and my eyes settled on a 10-year-old boy wearing a leather yarmulka (kippa/kipa/kippah, yarmulke, or whatever else you want to call it).  On the leather yarmulka was a picture of the Baltimore Raven’s logo (a raven), with the word “RAVENS.”  While looking at this kid, it began to bother me that a parent would even allow such a yarmulka.  I’ve gotten used to seeing designer yarmulkas (Ravens, Orioles, Nike, Spongebob, Spiderman, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and so much more) over the years, so I’m not sure why this hit me now.

The purpose of a yarmulka is to  remind us that Hashem is always above us.  It identifies that we are uniquely Jewish.  Why would we ruin that by putting on a yarmulka with a sports team (never mind the fact that there are probably copyright issues with doing so)?  I understand doing so with young children ages 3 or 4, as we’re trying to get them excited about doing the mitzva.  But even then, a 3-year-old is perfectly happy with a train that has the aleph-bais, which is not only educational, it can help serve the original purpose of the yarmulka.

Like I said above, I’ve seen designer yarmulkas for years, but for some reason, it has only just now started to bother me.

Rabbi Wohlberg on Mechitza’s

The Wall Street Journal had a great article yesterday on Mechitza’s, the partition that separates men and women in shul.  I particularly enjoyed Rabbi Wohlberg’s take on the issue:

 Beth Tfiloh in Baltimore went in the other direction. Years back, when it relocated to the suburbs from downtown, the congregation decided on separate seating but no partition. The concern was that a divider might alienate young families lured by synagogues where everyone sat together. But the tide has turned, says Rabbi Mitchell Wohlberg, and a new, more observant, generation would have left if it were not for the partition. At the same time, he adds, congregants “didn’t want to see women move to the back of the bus.” The solution? A “tasteful” mehitzah made of glass, wood and brass.

Rabbi Wohlberg is impatient with complainers. “Many of the people who say they want to sit with their husbands and wives at services, they don’t play golf together, they don’t have weeknights together,” he remarks. “All of a sudden, they can’t live without each other when they come to service?”

There is a God

The following video is a song by Yisrael Chaim (12) about his battle against cancer. The song was recorded between chemo sessions, a few days before his bar mitzva. Absolutely inspirational.

Talking to God

Today, I attended the CJE‘s annual Yom Iyun, where the theme was God. After the initial keynote address by Rabbi Kushner, a reform rabbi from San Francisco, the 400+ participants broke up into several groups for talks by other community leaders. I attended a talk by Rabbi Goldberger, of Tiferes Yisrael, about talking to God, and the way we communicate with Him. The audience included people from all sorts of Jewish backgrounds and denominations.

He opened up with three basic questions.

  1. Who can daven? Does it have to be someone special? Should it be someone who does the davening for you?
  2. Are there specific times that one should daven? Meaning, is it something that should only be done mornings, set times, etc.
  3. What should we daven about? Can we/should we only daven about the ‘important stuff’ like world peace or the health of the sick?

Read the rest of this entry »

Guns ‘n Rabbis

The latest movie I got from my area Redbox (using another free code from the website I linked to previously, of course) was Lucky Number Slevin. In the movie, there are two mob bosses, the Boss and the Rabbi, and they go after each other in the movie.

The movie itself was excellent. Great action, lots of interesting and unpredictable twists, shooting, great plot, etc. The only thing I didn’t like was the way they portrayed the Rabbi. Now I don’t know if they’re making it so ridiculous that it is supposed to be obvious that it is fake, or if this is what they think we actually do. For example, two of the Rabbi’s henchmen are supposed chassidim. One of them has a buzz cut (I’m talking about a zero), with a yarmulke that looks, plain and simply, silly on the guys head. The other guy also has the buzz cut, but he also has a Chassidic hat with the curled payos. The only problem with the second guy is that he doesn’t have a beard, just a five o’clock shadow. Since when do chassidim shave their beards? (BTW, I see this was brought up here).

Later, when Slevin walks in on the Rabbi, the scene shows the Rabbi with his yarmulke suddenly on, and he is reading from a seemingly real sefer torah, using a yad. The room is also filled with things that are significantly Jewish. The walls have Hebrew lettering, there’s a menorah in plain sight, etc.

The whole way they portrayed Judaism is just plain and simply weird. But either way, it was a fun movie and I recommend it to all.

Merry Christmas vs. Happy Holidays

The ongoing debate that is out there this time of year is whether to greet someone with Merry Christmas or with Happy Holidays. It has been my belief for the longest time that people should stick with Merry Christmas. After all, in the US, 88% of the population is Christian (all denominations), and only 1.4% of the population is Jewish (source). When the Christians are in such a majority, why should things change just because of us Jews? Yes, I know we’re special, but we have to remember that we’re living in golus.

I know that we’re living in an age of political correctness, but with the kind of Christian:Jewish ratio that we have, I think that this is just silly. I understand that some people only say Happy Holidays because they’re not sure if the person they’re talking to is Jewish or not, but if you know for sure, why not say the right thing for whatever holiday they’re celebrating. For example, I know that my mailman isn’t Jewish, so when I handed him my annual Christmas holiday tip, I said Merry Christmas. And of course he knows that I’m Jewish, so he responded with Happy Chanukah.

Reminds me of a funny story. A couple years ago, I was on some mailing list and when they sent out Holiday cards in the mail, it said, “Happy _______ (fill in the blank)”

Update:

See Yid with Lid’s post on this.  I agree with this a lot.