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

Monday, November 30, 2009

More Evidence of G-d's Sense of Humor

In the same week that I am helping OMD polish up her essays for admission to seminaries in Israel, MHW and I are meeting with the principal of a girl's elementary school in the Five Towns to help us figure out where to send the Vance to kindergarten next year.


Sunday, November 29, 2009

Five Years

Tonight marks my father's 5th yahrtzeit. It is very hard to believe that so much time has passed since he left this world.

The older I get the more I recognize how much my father influenced me and how many of his characteristics I have. He was always in a hurry. I am always in a hurry. He had little patience for shtick. I have little patience for shtick. He walked fast. I walk fast. And so on.

On Friday, while driving to Baltimore to see OOD and THG, I drove about 75 miles while moderately uncomfortable because I really could have used a pit stop. My father in me made the decision whether to stop a tortuous one. Stopping would set me back from reaching my destination by 15 minutes. On the other hand, I was getting increasingly more uncomfortable. (The fact that, even had we stopped, we would still have had plenty of time before Shabbos, like more than two hours, was not a factor in my decision. Stopping on the road unless absolutely necessary is simply not done). Finally, after thinking about it for more than an hour, I actually laughed, turned to MHW and said, "I'm really insane." We stopped at the last rest stop in New Jersey.

Other than inheriting some of my father's mishagas, I know that I have not measured up to him in many other ways. He was a very good man. A man of principle, a man without shtick, utterly devoid of pretense or guile. He was an incredibly hard worker who felt an absolute responsibility to provide for his family. (If he knew how many Jewish families were, more or less by choice, on welfare or using food stamps, he would be spinning in his grave). I don't think a day passed when he didn't think that he was the luckiest man in the world to have married my mom. He was totally devoted to her. I am lucky to have had him as my dad.

This is some of what I said at the levayah:

It is customary to refer to your father as Avi, Mori; my father, my teacher. That, indeed, was the essence of what my dad was.

He taught us both concrete things and abstract concepts. He taught us to throw a softball and he taught us to be erliche Yiddin. He taught us a love of baseball and he taught us to be menches. He taught us the importance of being physically fit and he taught us the importance of being real. He taught us to swim and he taught us the power of music. He taught us the importance of a smile and a good word. He taught us about the sweetness of Shabbos. He taught us z'miros in three-part harmony. He taught us that it was more important to get out of the Shea Stadium parking lot quickly than whether or not the Mets won. He taught us that if you walk at a fast pace you get to where you are going more quickly. He taught us to give tzedakah in a tzniusdik way. He taught us the importance of being oskai Tzorchei Tzibur B’Emunah. He taught us the importance of being on time, especially for appointments with the Ribbono Shel Olam. He taught that it was not beneath his sons or grandsons to do the laundry, clear off the table or wash the pots. He taught us a love for Eretz Yisrael [and, I should have also said, Medinat Yisrael]. He taught us never, ever, to raise our voices, especially to our loved ones. He taught us how much a person can overcome in life just by force of will and determination.

And, he taught us all this without ever darshaning or giving mussar. Indeed, he taught us all this by hardly saying a word. He taught us all this simply by the way he conducted himself. He understood on a very simple level that he was a Ben Melech, a child of the King, and conducted himself accordingly.

My father was a very special man and we will miss him dearly. I take comfort from the pasuk in Tehillim that I was reading last Sunday night when we thought he was about to leave us. Yodai’ah Hashem Yimai Timmim, V’nachalasam L’Olam Tihiyeh. “Hashem recognizes the days of the righteous and their inheritance will be forever.” The Even Ezra says that nachalasam, the inheritance of the righteous, refers to their children and grandchildren through the generations. The Radak says that nachalasam refers to their olam habah.

May Hashem grant my father the olam habah that he so richly deserves and may he be a meilitz yasher for all of his children, grandchildren and great grandchildren and all the generations to come.

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Thursday, November 19, 2009

An Important Post

By Rabbi Horowitz abd Dr. Twerski


Tree Killer

I will not be receiving the Man of the Year award from Greenpeace any time soon.

I am working on a bunch of litigation matters and have printed over 600 pages in the last 24 hours.

When they charge me with environmental terrorism I will say that I was just following orders.


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A Preview of The Future...

.... under Pelosi Care


Thursday, November 12, 2009

Inside Seat Or Good Coffee

Today I was presented with a classic dilemma: Inside Seat or Dunkin' Donuts Coffee?

OMD (f/k/a OYD), who recently got her license and has now taken complete possesion of the Camry formely known as My Camry, drives me to the train station every morning.

Here's the problem:

The coffee at the coffee shop at the Woodmere station is, how shall I say?...undrinkable. (How people actually drink that stuff day in and day out is a mystery beyond the scope of this post). While Dunkin' Donuts coffee (available at the Hewlett station) is not at the apex of coffeedom, it is worlds better than the Woodmere stuff.

(An aside: I did not have time to make a cup of far suprior Flavia Sumatra coffee at home).

But, if I go to Hewlett, I give up any chance of getting an inside window seat on a three-seat bench. The inside seat of a three seat bench (on a train that is unlikely to be so crowded that the middle seat gets occupied) is one of life's small pleasures. I roll up into a ball and read my Wall Street Journal. If the nearby yentas get too loud, I put on my Bose Quiet Comfort 3 headphones. Life is good at the window seat.

What would you do?


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Old Men With Spindly Legs

Back in the day when I was a runner, I would often run into guys who can best be described as "old men with spindly legs". These guys were hard core, often doing a few marathons a year and other races almost every weekend. They looked like they were in their sixties and up and all of them had skinny, Olive Oyl legs.

While doing a spin class this morning, I looked in the mirror and I realized that I have become an old man with spindly legs. I've always had Olive Oyl arms, but my legs never used to look like toothpicks.


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Sunday, November 08, 2009

Deathly Political Correctness

It's too early to tell for sure, but all signs point to the fact that the Army received ample warning signs about the Ft. Hood murderer. It also seems that the signs were ignored or not passed on partly so as to avoid offending Muslim sensibilities.

This is a very dangerous path to go down. Radical Islam is not a religion of peace. The sooner we come to terms with that as a nation, the safer we will be.

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Friday, November 06, 2009

The Yankees Win; MoC Suffers

Not because I hate the Yankees. I don't.

This morning at 8 a.m. Penn Station was teeming with Yankees fans of all ages preparing to travel downtown to the parade. It took me twice the amount of time it usually does to get from my train to the street.

Worse, the train ride home this afternoon is going to be awful. Forget about getting a seat. The train will likely be full of the very same people but this time many of them will likely be drunk.

I know. It's all about me.

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Thursday, November 05, 2009

Bar Results

New York State's bar exam results were made available today. We have an intern this year (courtesy of a major law firm that is paying her not to work) who took the exam this summer.

She received her results this morning by email. (She passed). Alternatively, her results were availble on-line. All she had to do was log in.

Back in the olden days, when I took the exam, you were notified by mail.

In my case, 29 years ago, I was working for a Wall Street firm (which was, strangely enough, near Wall Street) when I was told by one of my fellow first year associates(who was still living at home) that his mom had called to tell him that he passed.

I lived near the Village at that time so I told my boss I needed to step out. I hopped on the subway, went to my apartment, opened the mail and, voila! That was a very scary moment.

Thankfully, all 13 first year asociates in my firm passed so it was a very happy day at Lord, Day & Lord.

(An aside: The Wikipedia summary of Lord Day & Lord mentions Todd Stitzer, CEO of Cadbury, as a prominent alumnus (Todd was a very nice guy who was a killer tennis player) but fails to mention Ted Ammon, the partner at KKR who was killed by his wife's boyfriend.


Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Smart Money

The Five Towns Jewish Star has an editorial about the visit by a Chassidic Rebbe from Yerushalayim to the Five Towns that is scheduled for this week. This Rebbe is the head of a virulently anti-Zionist sect and many of its members were involved in the "parking lot riots" in Yerushalayim this summer.

The gist of the editorial is a question: Why are we welcoming and financially supporting a Rebbe (especially one whose views are inconsistent with the feelings of much of the neighborhood) when people can't pay their tuition or mortgages right here in the Five Towns.

Without even considering the issue of the Rebbe's views (which is not to say it isn't a legitimate question), and consistent with what I've been saying for months, I also question the wisdom of supporting mosdos from outside the neighborhood when our own institutions are suffering mightily.

(Please no comments about the Rebbe or his philosophy; it's not my point and I don't want to go there.)


Monday, November 02, 2009

Damon's Dash

Just because it was successful doesn't mean it was smart.

Everyone I heard was gushing about Damon's steal of second in the ninth inning last night followed by his mad dash to third when he realized that no one was covering the base (The Phillies had a shift on for the pull-hitting lefty Mark Texeira so their third baseman was covering second).

I think it was a pretty dumb play. Damon would have scored from second on almost any hit to the outfield (and, as it turned out, A-Rod hit a double that might have even scored him from FIRST!). So, getting to third with two outs did not add that much but the risk that he took was immense (especially with A-Rod and Posada the next two batters). As I saw the replay, he didn't miss geting tagged out by very much (at the beginning of the dash; once he got some distance, he was clear of the third baseman).

Can you imagine how the fans and the press would be howling if he had gotten tagged out?

But all's well that ends well for the Yankees. When you are destined to win, whacky plays like this one seem to all work out in your favor. Just don't call it smart baseball.


Sunday, November 01, 2009

Next Year in Jerusalem (On My Bike)

Today was a tough day for me.

Every year on the day of the New York Marathon I feel pangs of regret that I'm not running. This year was especially tough because I actually was entered to do it. (I dropped out because my knees blew up but I would not have been able to do it in any event because of my recent surgery).

I know in my heart of hearts that I will never do another marathon; my knees and ankles are simply not meant to run 26 miles at a time. The fact that I managed two New York Marathons (15 years ago) is miraculous. But I still feel that yearning every year because it is one of the coolest athletic experiences I've ever had.

Making this year even tougher is the fact that the Alyn bike ride also started today and, for the first time in five years, I wasn't doing it. I hadn't planned on doing the ride this year for a number of reasons. For one, my firm's annual conference was last Thursday so I couldn't have gotten to Israel in time for the start of the ride. More importantly, with a four year old, it's just too hard on MHW for me to disappear for at least ten days. Again, as it turned out, I wouldn't have been able to ride anyway. I only started spinning last week.

(Adding to my frustration this morning was the fact that I went to the gym hoping to do a spin class. I hadn't signed up but I'm usually able to get in off the waiting list. Today I was aced out by a bunch of tubby guys who showed up at the last minute but have absolutely no clue how to spin (they should live and be well). Instead, I worked out with weights and then went home and did 45 minutes on my own spin bike. Ich kenesht.

The good news is that MHW and I are thinking about taking the Vance to Israel with us next year for the ride. OYD will be in seminary and, this way, I will only be away for the five days of the ride but will be able to spend the weekends together with the mishpacha. Maybe I can get OOS to join me.

Post script: I heard from one of my buddies that the weather on the ride is miserable.

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