Wednesday, November 30, 2005

got a cold

We met some friends in Tel Aviv on Monday night for all you can eat steak. They forgot to cook the meat so we had to keep sending it back. Apparantly you have to tell them burnt in order to get it well done. To them "medium-well" meant mostly rare.
I should have known something was wrong because I only ate 3 steaks, a plate of chicken wings and fries.
Next morning I woke up and my throat was hurting a lot. Not because of the meat. I just got a dumb cold.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Time for prayer

As an aside, my little brother (not any of my sister-in-laws) went shopping on the day after Thanksgiving. Not only did he go shopping, he woke up at 4AM to go. Once he got to the the store, he saw that there was a long line. (like, duh) He then called a friend (also a guy) in a different state who went to stand on line at midnight and asked him to buy the item that he was hoping to get and went back home and back to sleep.

Have you ever heard the phrase metrosexual? That's what you call a guy who gets up early because he heard there's a sale. He also usually brushes his hair before going out and makes sure that his clothes all match. On his blog, he only mentioned the shopping part so we don't know about the rest.

Back on subject.
The sun is getting ready to come up over the hills of Meron. The beginning of light is starting to creep over the horizon. My #2 daughter is upstairs in the bathroom throwing up. The baby started crying that he wants his mother and will not take water from me. Number 3 asks if it is time to get up yet...

The time for prayer. Leaving behod all that is precious and dear to spend time discussing life with the creator. One of the problems living in Israel, and this could be a Galilee specific problem, is that they don't have tikkin very often at shachris. Tikkin was one of my favorite parts of American shacharis. The idea of tikkin is that someone died a couple years ago and it's a mitzva to have a shot of whiskey and a kichel instead of breakfast. Maybe it's better that they don't have tikkin here, because Israelis would probably put out some form of arak or disgusting brandy that isn't fit for anything except mixing. and heavy mixing.

The countryside is beautiful and you just know God is going to answer your prayers.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

adopt a chiloni

In order to continue moving forward to the new world order, we must be prepared to move on to the next step. While we are still in the process of normalizing relations between chareidis and datis, which is happening at an exceedngly quick pace, we must prepare for the next stage, which is bringing the secular Jews on board.
Adopt a Chiloni is all about showing love to fellow Jews who are missing what we have. These are people who should be treated with respect, but at the same time we should pity them for not being able to see the forest but for the trees. It is time to break down the barriers and bring them back to the fold where they belong.
Hug a chiloni (but only of the same sex as you and in a non-intimate way). Just a random one, on the street. Tell him that you love him and you understand that he has an inner conflict. We all have that inner conflict and we can all learn to overcome it by working together. Tell that chiloni that you will be his friend from now on and that he should feel free to call you if he has any questions.

As REM once said, "shiny happy people holding hands"
Attorney General's Warning:
Random people breaking out in "We are the world" has been known to encite mean, gun-toting, meat-eating people to start shooting randomly.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

what a week

Sunday morning I get to work and my production database server has crashed. I got it back up, but am not exactly sure what the cause of the problem is so during lunch I moved the database and fileserver to our backup server. No big deal, we lost about half hour of work.
I started looking at the machine and quickly figured out exactly where the problems had occurred, if not exactly the reason why the occurred. But then after looking around for a minute I realized the computer didn't have RAID, and the second harddrive was sitting there idle. I stayed an extra hour at work and pretty much things were back to normal. This is all hashgacha pratis, as you are about to find out.
Monday, I had planned on getting together with a friend in Tel Aviv. But my wife planned on taking the kids to a bambi play on monday and since the wives also wanted to get together we postponed our get together for a week.
Since I had worked late on Sunday I came home a little early on Monday (I had some things I wanted to do anyways). I stopped off and got some wings and shwarma to cook up on the grill because after an excursion with the kids my wife generally does not have time to make dinner.
As I am walking towards the house, my wife calls me. Bambi has been postponed due to inclement terrorism. They were supposed to go home and go into the bomb shelter. What should she do. Well, I got home first and looked at our bomb shelter and decided that we were not going into it. I had just moved a ton of boxes into it and I certainly was not going to move them out. It is also a very small room and we wouldn't be able to stay in there for very long without going stir crazy. I called a couple friends and they said that they don't go into their bomb shelters either. I figured that if I heard rockets hitting our neighborhood we would go in, but otherwise the odds of us being the first hit were pretty small and also an indication of God's being very pissed off at us.
No rockets hit Maalot and we had a nice bbq dinner. I made a mean spicy honey mustard sauce for the wings, and we broiled them instead of using the bbq (cause it is outside). The children slept in our room, so that we would all die together if it came down to that.

Just think for a moment about the panic that would have ensued if we had gone to Tel Aviv and left the kids with a baby sitter. Or if I would have come home at the regular time without dinner. I can just imagine them all huddling in the bomb shelter - hungry and crying.

Yesterday was pretty much a normal day, though I was too busy to write. So I wanted to let y'all know that we are still alive and well. And to think רבות מחשבות בלב איש ועצת ה' היא תקום

Thursday, November 17, 2005

starving children

Sometimes when I hear about children who are starving, I get sad. Little people that rely on adults for their sustenence who, for whatever reason, don't come through. There are starving children all over the world, including in Israel.
Do I think the government is responsible for feeding them? No.
BUt I do think it is each one of our personal responsibilities to reach into our pockets and give a little something to an organization that works with people who are lacking to give them back their basic dignity and helps them feed their children.

On the other hand, when you hear about starving children it can make you smile. Who would be talking about starving children if it was commonplace? The fact that it even gets mentioned means that it is a rare occurrence.

Then there are times when I get angry. I met someone who told me he was not going to look for a job because he can't stand the Israeli government. No, not specifically the current government, the way the country is being run. So he is on welfare and planning to stay on it. And his children are hungry. And its his own damn fault.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005


My eldest daughter refused to do her homework a couple days ago. When my wife got too frustrated to rationally deal with it she put her on the phone with me to see what could do. After asking her what the problem was, she burst into tears. Apparantly she was still refusing to do her homework even with threats of not being able to go to friends houses, no Harry Potter reading and no learning English reading. 10 minutes later, after she calmed down, she called me back. I again asked her what the problem was. She told me that the homework was too hard and it really made her angry. We discussed the problem for a little bit and we agreed that she would sit down with her mom who would help her go through them one page at a time. When I got home that evening , she only had 15 pages left. Apparantly, she had not been doing her homework for a very long time. She's almost finished and we all learned our lessons. My daughter learned that it is easier to do 2 pages of homework a day, then 10 pages a night because you didn't do it when you were supposed to. She may have learned that it is ok to ask for help, but I doubt that sunk in yet. That usually doesn't sink in until well after the teenage years are finished (my daughter is 7). We learned that instead of getting frustrated and making threats, it works a lot better to try and find out what the originating problem is and solving that. Of course threats are often still neccessary. I did find it hard to believe that she was willing to accept all the consequences I mentioned before, though it hurt her to think about it, rather then give in and do her homework that had made her angry.

Last night #2 wasn't feeling good and after she threw up at 3:30, I took her into the living room to read her a book. She went and chose "Don't cry big bird," and explained that it was appropriate because she was crying and big bird was crying.

Monday, November 14, 2005

israeli pluralism

With the Bolshovik's (read Amir Peretz) victory for the leadership of the Labour party people have started talking about pluralism, to the tune that sefardim are people too, and so are arabs, and that he will completely end discrimination in our newly pluralistic country. The problem here is seperating the various pluralisms that exist. Israel has to keep a close eye on reality and not become multi-pluralistic. Uni-pluralism, that is pluralism in one specific segment, that being the various Jewish sects ashkenazim and sefardim, datiim and chilonim, charedim and shinuim, poor and rich, women, men and children, is a very important thing for this country. After all, God gave the country to all of us.

Multi-pluralism, that is being pluralistic with different not-related sectors of people can be very dangerous. Being pluralistic and treating enemies of the state like brothers will very quickly get us stabbed in the back. You don't want to be pluralistic towards Palestinians who have declared their intent to take over Jerusalem, Haifa, Jaffa and Acco while chasing the Jews into the sea. You don't want to be pluralistic towards Iranians who have declared Israel a danger to the world and feel that we should be wiped off the map. You certainly don't want to be pluralistic towards animals. Some of which should be eaten, or sacrificed on a altar to our loving God, in better times and others which are meant to serve people in less tasty ways.

PLuralism, as long as it is applied correctly is a very powerful and very encouraging step. But multi-pluralism will just lead to more suicide bombings, and open hatred towards our extended hand. Let's be uni-pluralistic towards our people and monistic towards those who hate us. We can give a little love to all those in between and long as long as it has a healthy dose of reality sprayed in as well.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

old friends

Two of my old high school friends have graduated an Orthodox Rabbinical school, RSA Chofetz Chaim, and became Rabbis. It is the end of a long process and the school has a big fund-raising dinner to celebrate. Each of the new rabbis sends out a letter to everyone they know in the world asking them to put a congratulatory message in the school's ad journal. It didn't say so in the letter, but assumedly they only graduate if they can raise more then the minimum amount. This is the final test as to whether they will be good rabbis or not. Some rabbis are too good, like those from the Kabbalah Center in Israel, and they go to jail. Others are just not shnorrers and they are relegated to a nice seat in a kolel. The rest learn how to play the game and collect just enough to stay happy and healthy without raising any eyebrows.

I have the feeling that my old friends are failing. The personal letter I got asking for a donation started off Dear Mr. & Mrs...,
I am not a friend of his parents who watched him grow up. I was not a senior in school when he was a freshman who forced him to call me Mister. We were in class together. We are the same age. We were friends. It is not respectful of him to call me Mister, it is down right insulting.

Maybe they don't know how to use a computer well enough to say, write first names on certain records and titles on others. Maybe the yeshiva sent it out for them and they have a stupid requirement for titles. Whatever reason they had for doing this, I am confident that the letter didn't give the feeling of "my buddy's done good, I'm going to send some money and congratulate him." The letter gave a feeling of, "We haven't talked in 10-15 years and he is sending a form letter to everyone he knows."

So why am I splitting an ad with a couple of friends? I think sometimes you have to ignore what is on the outside and realize that what has happened is that "some old buddy's done good."

Thursday, November 10, 2005


I joined a learning program last night which is a mixture of daatim and people who do not follow the daat, learning mesilas yesharim together in a small group atmosphere. First, everyone sits around the table and we discuss the topic and then we break into smaller groups and discuss the text sheet (there were 8 paragraphs from different sources last night) and how we can understand it in our everyday life. Someone coined the phrase datloni for self-described chilonis who were interested in performing mitzvot as long as they didn't interfere with their lives. We also had a deck of cards under the table so if the topics weren't so interesting we could always change the format to strip poker. My wife, God bless her, is against the possibilitry of strip poker, so I probably won't be going back.

In other news, the Israeli version of Jimmy Hoffa has just been made head of the Labor party. The only reason that isn't necessarily bad news is because Peres was sent home (again).

On the rock of galilee, we believe that it was Peres who killed Rabin and we are anxiously waiting for the ballistics test to prove that.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

the siddur party

Last night number 2 got her siddur. In an age old ceremony she joined her class in singing songs, putting on a show and receiving her siddur. I was there for the getting the siddur part. I missed the beginning of it because I am among the demographic of people who work for a living. I left work an hour early to get home on time, but due to a number of random acts of god, including weather, bus being late and train being late, I got there an hour and a half late.

I don't think the part that I missed is relevant. What is relevant is that before the end, my daughter saw me and got very excited that her daddy came to watch. She couldn't care less if I was there for the first part, second part or last 5 minutes. The important thing is to show up. One parent or older sibling is then supposed to help their daughter in the siddur party project. This year we made a paper brick to go on a paper bet knesset with a prayer to hashem. Each child got to make up her own prayer and with a little help from me, she chose to pray for peace in the land. It was a hard decision though, she was really leaning towards a prayer for good food before I gave a couple new suggestions.

All in all it was a fun, non-holocaustical event in which no one got thrown out of their home, murdered, spit at or in general abused for the sole reason that they were Jewish.

Monday, November 07, 2005


My wife's friend got thrown out of her home in the former gaza strip. She was one of those people who believed that mashiach would have to come before they gave away the strip and didn't do anything to prepare for the inevitable. We now know that just as pigs must have flown as Pink Floyd got back together for the Live 8, Mashiach must not have come as the Jews got expelled from their homes.

The reason I bring this up now is that the same friend is now in America, the land of the free and the home of the brave. She has 2 goals while she is there, the first (and primary reason) is to pump an Israeli seminary that recently opened its doors to American students. The second goal is to raise awareness about the Katifian Holocaust and to tell her story. She is an idealist, and probably will not charge a shul for standing in front of a crowd and telling them how it is.

I think idealism has a role in life as long as there is a big chunk of realism thrown in, so the idealist actually stands a chance. Too much idealism and they will accomplish nothing. There is no such thing as all good. To accomplish a goal you must understand how the world works in terms of that goal and play the game correctly so that you will be able to take advantage of the weakness of the opposing side and turn it into a small victory for you and your idealistic goals.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

whats in a lunch

I am sitting here once again eating a mixture of beans, potatos and zucchini wondering, as always, why I didn't order pizza.
The short answer is because eating a whole pizza at luch everyday makes you fat. No, there's no such thing as eating only one or two slices. If you order the pizza you eat the pizza.
In Israel companies give away a free lunch. What about the adage that there is no free lunch? Well before I came to Israel I didn't eat lunch, and I didn't get fat. Now I am eating lunch and paying for it. Except that I stoped eating pizza and I lost a lot of weight. But I would prefer to eat the pizza.

Now I understand smokers who say, I know it'll give me cancer and that doesn't bother me in the least. Give me the cigarette. I also understand why I've never smoked. It's the same reason I'm eating the beans and potatos, which are not even a quarter as enjoyable, instead.

What kind of person trades his life for a moment of pleasure?

Another random thought on the rock of galilee.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

are you a fraud?

Do you pretend, at times, and portray yourself as someone you're not because you think that is how the people you are with would like you to be? Is your life lived behind a mask, living your whole life to the expectations of others? Are you two-faced and hypocritical, behaving one way in one setting and a completely opposite way in another?

If the answer is yes, then that's sad.

You have to live with yourself and be ok with yourself because in the end you will die with yourself. Nobody wants it written on their headstone - "Did what he thought was expected of him."

Or do they?

Wouldn't a very similar epitaph be, "Served God to the best of his ability"?

Maybe it is the correct way to live, taking a high goal and pretending that is who you are.

Or maybe it is more correct to take the high goal and strive towards changing yourself so that you reach the peak of existence rather then turning into a miserable vestige of a human being living a life that you are not prepared to lead.

Or maybe not.

I think that at the end of the day, no matter what you do or what you believe or how you act or what you wear, the important thing is to be one with yourself, to be able to look into the mirror and know the person looking back at you.

Random Thought on the rock of galilee.