The rambling thoughts of a Modern Orthodox Chassid (whatever that means). Contact me at emansouth @

Friday, February 29, 2008

Rabbi Horowitz on the Lipa Ban


(Great post, bt, again, no time to comment yet)

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Flipping Out UPDATED

The Wall Street Journal's Take. (No time to comment; maybe Sunday)

The link should now work


Wednesday, February 27, 2008

A True E Mail Story, Starring Me

I received the following email from a partner at a law firm:

Dear MoC and "Nancy" (My colleague),

We are offering an interesting CLE at the firm on March 12, from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m.

My partner, Joe Tax, will be presenting U.S. Income Tax Treaties. The discussion will cover the benefits of the treaties, including who can benefit and what the limitations of the benefits are, as well as how the treaties work.

This lecture has been approved in accordance with the Continuing Legal Education Board for one credit hour in the area of professional practice. This program is a transitional course appropriate for newly admitted attorneys.

Lunch will be available at 12:15.
My Colleague wrote back:


MoC and I have a lunch "penciled in" for that day, but I will know in a day or two if that has been confirmed. If not, I would definitely like to attend. Can I let you know later this week?

Thanks so much for thinking of us.

Kind regards,

This was true. We do have lunch penciled in.

Nevertheless, bigmouth that I am, sent the following email to my colleague:

I would rather shoot myself in the head than go to that CLE.
Thirty seconds later, my colleague called to gently inform me that I clicked "Reply to All" and that my response went back to the partner! D'Oh!

He immediately wrote back:

That's a little extreme!
Caught, I sheepishly responded:

As between shooting myself in the head and going to a tax CLE, it's a tossup. No Offense. :-)


Ban in Dm

Awesome post by Hasidic Musician with lots of good links.


The Lipa Ban and the Sanctity of a Contract

Anyone who reads this space knows that I have no use for Shiny Shoe Music and that I wouldn't attend a Shiny Shoe Concert if someone gave me front row seats. So my beef with the Lipa Ban has nothing to do with the fact Klal Yisrael will be deprived of "The Big Event".

(Indeed, while I recognize that these concerts are meant to provide fun outlets to our kids, I think these concerts and some of the shtick that goes on, including having a bunch of pudgy, semi-talented adults in Armani suits and shiny black shoes "dance" around smoke-filled stages, are ridiculous).

(I also have no sympathy for Lipa who routinely violates other JEWISH artists' copyrights (to say nothing of the "goyishe" songwriters) or the producer who has his own inyanim).

What bothers me is that rather than address the issue of concerts in a menshlechkeit, behind the scenes way, the kana'im decided to ambush the concert with two weeks to go causing untold financial damages to many people. They essentially forced Lipa and the other Shiny Shoe performers to breach their contracts with the producers and forced the producers to breach their contract with Madison Square Garden (with no way to mitigate their damages).

Why is inducing breach of conracts made in good faith less of an issur than having a concert? Why is inducing a breach of a contract with gentiles less of a chilul Hashem than putting on a concert? Why is tortious interference with another man's contract acceptable? Is Choshen Mishpat no longer part of the Shulchan Oruch?

The Chareidi press (the same Chareidi press that had no problem taking money for full page concert ads for years) has gotten squarely behind the "Gedolim". Poor Lipa (who is being made out to be a hero for following the Rabbanim when, in fact, he is a pitiful victim of blackmail), submitted to an interview with HaModia to show his support for the ban. It is really shameful.

One Chareidi Jew who I am close to described the ban as a dark day for American Yiddishkeit. Another simply said that one thing is for sure; the ban has nothing to do with G-d.


Tuesday, February 26, 2008

"Bans Are Not Chinuch"


Hat Tip: Rabbi Horowitz

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Monday, February 25, 2008

Where's the Srugi?

What's with Aron Razel's kipah in this poster. Did the promoters digitally substitute a yeshivish black yalmukah for Aron's usual multi-colored srugi? Curious minds want to know.


Puh-Lease! UPDATED



Sunday, February 24, 2008

And Another Thing....

Perhaps if the Gedolim spent less time worrying about this, they could spend more time worrying about this.

(BTW, I'm all in favor of the ban, but for aesthetic reasons :-))

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Train Wreck Approaching

I read three articles over the weekend that got me off my "Nothing to Say" mood.

Two were from this week's Mishpacha Magazine and one was from Hamodia's magazine.

The first article was about the devastation that the weak dollar is having on Chareidi society in Israel. In fact, it is not the dollar that is wreaking havoc on Israeli Chareidi society, it is the Chareidi model itself that is wreaking havoc and the weak dollar that is exacerbating this already broken model.

How is the dollar wreaking havoc? All of the mosdos that are not self sustaining and must shnorr of the US Jewish community are facing huge shortfalls because the same amount of dollars that used to get them over the hump are now falling 20% short. All of the people who used to come to the States to collect for their children's weddings are now finding it 20% harder to pay for these weddings. All of the thousands of American avreiching who are living off their parents dime are finding it 20% more diffciult to live on their dollar allowance.

It seems not to have occurred to the author that if Chareidim in Israel actually worked for a living, they might not have to be prisoners to the value of the American dollar. If the Kollelim had 80% fewer avreiching, we might not be having this discussion.

The second Mishpacha article described the lengths to which people go to hide any mental pathology or chronic illness in their families lest the velt get wind of it. A number of frum psychologists described how potential patients ask whether there are any signs on their offices that would suggest that they are mental health professionals. Many sufferers of Crohn's disease apparently live in pain and denial lest their shidduch chances get destroyed. Credit to Mishpacha for highlighting this issue but, gevalt!

The third article, in Hamodia, was the true story of a teacher at Touro in Brooklyn who gave the appearance of being a non-Jew, even going by the name Ms. Cruz. It turns out that the author finds out that "Ms. Cruz" had been the valedictorian of her Bais Yaakov but, because she was a foter child, she was redt shidduchim to the biggest rejects and told to be grateful for that. The killer came at the end. When the student was trying to suggest that it wasn't so bad, Ms. Cruz asked her, "Would your brother marry a foster child?" She knew the answer and couldn't respond.

The article is followed by an interview with a very holy woman (whom I've met) whose family has fostered and married off 5 children over the years. This example was somewhat disengenuous because this woman comes from a Modern Orthodox, not Chareidi, environment. There is a lso a sidebar interview with David Mandel of Ohel in which he acknowledges the problem but suggests that the problem has gotten better more recently.

This last story, of course, hit home because of TT. It is hard to imagine that a young lady who will likely be a smart, funny, tall, thin, black-eyed beauty will have a hard time finding a shidduch. On the other hand, it's probably not a bad idea for me to keep making a very nice living since money seems to overcome many chisronos.


Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Nothing To Say

I'm tired. Work is extremely intense, has been since the summer. I don't have the time or energy to think of chiddushim for this blog and I'm lucky if I post twice a week. My readership is dwindling. It's been almost four years and I'm way beyond done.

There's really no point in shutting down the blog because I may have some things to say from time to time time but I just can't commit to it anymore.


Synching My iPod: Mystery Solved

My iPod has been driving me crazy.

I uploaded Yonatan Razel's masterpiece CD, Sach Hakol, a few months ago. Unfortunately, four songs in the middle had the digital equivalent of a very bad scratch. They were ruined.

Luckily, or so I thought, during my last two trips to Israel I had purchased more than a half dozen copies of the CD for family and friends. So, I deleted the "scratched" CD from my iTunes Library, uploaded a new one and synched the iPod again.

Same problem.

This happened with three different CDs. And, strangely, the CDs themselves were fine when played on a CD player. I couldn't figure it out.

Tonight, I tried again. When it happend yet again, a lightbulb finally went off in my feeble mind.

It occurred to me that each time I synched my iPod, it was not deleting the old CD and replacing it; since it "read" the existence of the same CD in the iTunes library, it did nothing! It already had that CD!

So, this time, I deleted the CD, synched up my iPod (so that it also got rid of the CD), then added the new version of the CD and synched it again.

Presto! I don't know why I'm so proud of myself. I should have figured this out about two months ago.

Nevertheless, I am so pleased to be listening to this absolutely sublime, heavenly music. Listening to it is instantly relieving the stress of an incredibly difficult and stressful day at work. Ruach Hakodesh, mamash.

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Sunday, February 17, 2008

Black Hat Story

Although I own a black hat, I almost never wear it. I experimented with wearing one on Shabbos a number of years ago but I never felt comfortable, both literally and figuratively. I didn't like wearing a hat indoors and I didn't feel that it was "matim li". I just wasn't a black-hatter.

Yesterday, however, it was so cold in the morning that I decided to dig the black hat out of the closet and wear it to shul. It is definitely warmer than my baseball cap.

When I got back from shul and walked in the door, The Toddler, as usual, was there to greet me with her big smile and loud enthusiasm. She took one look at me in my black fedora and screamed out, "Abba's wearing a man's hat! Abba's wearing a man's hat!"

We all started laughing (which, of course, triggered repeated refrains of "Abba's wearing a man's hat) and finally, I said, "Yes, TT, Abba's is wearing a man's hat."

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Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Rainy Day Thoughts

* I spent two hours this morning in family court in Queens. I waited two hours for a hearing that was scheduled for 9:30. I am busier than I've ever been at work, the issues I have to deal with are crazier than ever, and I could ill-afford to be away from my office. I left court at 11:30. TT's biological mother and her lawyer never showed up. The hearing was adjourned for two months. I do not have the constitution to be a litigator. Stuff like this would drive me nutty.

* Roger Clemens is either: (i) telling the truth, (ii) a lying idiot, or a (iii)lying, but a lot smarter than I give him credit for.

The risk that he is assuming if he is lying is immense. It could land him in jail. Assuming he did take steroids, he would have been much better off fessing up immediately. Americans are a forgiving people (see, e.g., Jason Giambi), he would have had no legal liability, and might still have made the Hall of Fame. Now, he is being vilified not just for taking steroids but for lying, may end up in the slammer, and may not make the Hall of Fame.

The truth is, I don't really give a hoot about this whole steroid thing. I am just fascinated by the machinations of the people involved.

* Will Hillary slink away graciously or will she engage in a death fight until the end? Assuming she loses Texas and Ohio, will she concede? Grace is not a word normally associated with the Clintons. I have my money on a fight to the death.

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Tuesday, February 12, 2008


What does this mean?

The title track,"Omar Dovid", composed by rising Composer Elimelech Blumstein is sure to satisfy the all time Jewish music fan. "This song is very special," says Gabay. To those who have had a taste of the album it is already being called "The modern day Tanya". It's not everyday a song like this hits the market.
The "Modern Day Tanya?" Huh? What am I missing?


Monday, February 11, 2008

Breakfast With The Toddler

Yesterday morning, The Toddler and I went to Breakfast at Central Perk.

I davened at the 7 a.m. minyan and returned close to 8 to find the little one up and rarin' to go. MHW slipped out to go to the chick's gym and I hopped on my spin bike. TT came down to the basement to hang out with me and play. And play she did, in her imaginary world that seems so special. I got to ride for a full hour without interruption.

After the workout I asked TT if she wanted to go to a restaurant for breakfast. I'm not sure if she knew exactly what I meant at first but something must have registered and she got excited. I asked her what she was going to order and she said "scambled eggs". I asked her if she also wanted chocolate milk and she got upset; "No, scambled eggs!"

I decided to defer to another time explaining that scambled eggs and chocolate milk were not mutually exclusive.

I quickly showered and off we went.

We took a table for two and ordered. I got the usual (well-done Belgian Waffle) and TT ordered a cheese omelet (Do you think she knows the difference between a cheese omelet and scambled egss?).

The waitress was amazed at how well behaved TT was and also at how nicely she ate the eggs. She uses a fork like someone many years her senior (in fact I don't think either of our boys eats as neatly as she does ad hayom hazeh). Not only that, but she also ate all the vegetables that came with the accompanying salad. Black olives, green olives, tomtoes, cucumbers.

So, all in all, TT and I had spent a lovely Sunday morning together and had a wonderful bonding experience.


Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Random Thoughts on Election Day

* Is there a law that says election board workers must be at least 85 years old or does it just work out that way?

* I would not be surprised at all if Obama beats Hilary very soundly today. I think the people are getting sick of the Clintons. She comes off as an old has-been compared to a fresh, inspiring young face.

* I don't get the idea of wearing replica sports uniforms. What's pshat?. It is especially goofy if you are 75 pounds overweight and holding a beer. I saw an entire family this morning in Penn Station decked out in the levush. Sheesh.

* I've been going to an especially early minyan lately because of the demands of work. Because the earliest time for talis and tefilin is actually later than their normal starting time, they've put out a schedule of days and starting times. Why does the schedule say "Earliest Talit and Tefilin" when virtually no one in that shul actually speaks that way?

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Monday, February 04, 2008

Thinking Giant Thoughts UPDATED

* Last night's Superbowl was probably the best I have witnessed, at least in 39 years, since Superbowl III and Joe Willie Namath.

* My brother and sister-in-law, in whose home I watched the game, had enough food to feed several third-world countries. Alas, only two other couples and a bunch of 20-somethings were tasked with consumming said food; we were not nearly equal to the task.

* OOS watched the game in Israel in the middle of the night. This was very uncharacteristic since he's not a huge Giants fan nor even a huge football fan. I think he watching the game made him feel more connected (although without the hot poppers and six foot long hero sandwiches, it's not quite the same. Also not quite the same was the fact that the feed from his computer (He doesn't have a TV) was in Chinese. On the other hand, there isn't much difference between listening to Mike and the Mad Dog and listening to a bunch of Chinese commentators.

* If there was any doubt that Bill Belichick is a low-life cretin, it disappeared after his ungracious post-game grunt session.

* To me, the most poignant moment of the entire broadcast was the shot of Peyton Manning, Eli's illustrious brother, motioning from his Skybox for Eli to move quickly to avoid a delay of game penalty (which he did not). The brotherly love and closeness was revealed for all to see, wordlessly.

* By far the most interesting and hard to understand aspect of the Giants' amazing run has been the sudden arrival of Eli Manning. His seeming overnight transformation from a talented but mistake-prone, underachieving quarterback who often looked like a deer caught in the headlights, to a confident leader who was virtually mistake free was astonishing. It is the stuff of movies; did he sell his soul to the devil in return for a run like this? (It will be equally interesting to see which Eli Manning we see next year.)

* The great football writer, Paul Zimmerman of Sports Illustrated (who has to be about 100 years old) called the Giants win. His conclusion was based on a gut feeling rather than any rational analysis. That is indeed what unfolded yesterday. The Giants simply played harder and better than the "best team in football history".

* I don't have time to get into detail right now, but the game brought home much of what Joe Schick wrote about in his cover article in the Jewish Press on Sports and Orthodox Jewish Fans. I hope to have some time to post on this soon.

* The bad news is that there will be a parade in Manhattan tomorrow. That means a bunch of drunk kids (and adults) on my train ride back home. Oh well.