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

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

MoC is Fading Away...

Too much riding.
Fosterboy's Room

He's coming for Yom Tov
Added to My (Theoretical) Blogroll....

The Renegade Rebbetzin. Absolutely awesome new blog. With the exception of her tastes in Jewish music (she's apparently partial to Shiny Shoe music, nebech) she is a breath of fresh air.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

In The Hospital With Fosterboy Part II

At visiting hour
Teaching Fosterboy...

To Ride His Bike

Monday, September 27, 2004

"He Is My Brother"

Our daughter and FosterBoy.

Friday, September 24, 2004

At the Hospital..

with FosterBoy

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Broken Sword...

...Broken Heart

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

With Fosterboy... the Concert and the Mets game

Monday, September 20, 2004

Fosterboy's First Day

Fosterboy's "Mommy"


Sunday, September 19, 2004

We Interrupt This Sabbatical To Bring You This Important PSA

If you are davening for the Amud (leading the services) and you are not particularly good, please keep the following advice in mind:

"It is better to be bad and fast rather than bad and slow"

Monday, September 13, 2004

While I'm Away

You can check these out:

J Music:

Blog in Dm, Velvel, Psycho Toddler, Adam Davis, and J Blogmeister.

Broken Hearts:

Seraphic Secrets, Chez Miscarriage, and Foster Boy.

The Jewish Condition:

Female Division:

AidelMaidel, Heimishtown, Bloghead, Cara, and the Fourth Rabbi.

Male Division:

Hirhurim, Baynonim, and Back Row

Group Hugs Division:

Protocols, Village Idiots, and Town Crier

Israel Division:

Ben Chorin, Allison, Dave, Chayyei Sarah, Bird on a Mountain, Imshin, and Noa.

Beyond Category:

Sklaro World

Thursday, September 09, 2004

MoC Takes Stock

I have been blogging for exactly six months.

I think I'm done.

I have tried to make a few points over the past six months at the same time trying to add a little humor to the J blogosphere.

I have written a lot about Jewish music, in particular the sorry state of Shiny Shoe music (and am very pleased that the term "Shiny Shoe" music has stuck).

I have written about the trend in some parts of the MO world to reduce observance to the lowest common denominator, with things such as casual dress on Shabbos, the disappearance in America of a focus on Erev Shabbos, the disappearance of the communal third meal on Shabbos (to say nothing of melaveh malkah), the sorry state of tefilah in the Orthodox world (not limited to the MO world), escaping for Pesach (again, not limited to the MO world) and a few other things. I certainly do not purport to have the formula for 'authentic' Yiddishkeit. But, as a father of four children, all of whom are teens or older, I think I have a certain perspective that many do not and feel strongly about the importance of ritual and minhagim on the raising of frum children and that minimizing their importance is ill considered. I feel strongly, too, that children should see their parents be moser nefesh for Yiddishkeit.

I have written (influenced greatly by the writtings of Moshe Koppel) that our schools and institutions have sadly sacrificed heimishkeit for ideology.

I have written a lot about my own shortcomings which are many.

Yet, despite the name of the blog, the one thing I haven't written about directly is Chassidus.

Nevertheless, the comments on my posts often degenerate into rants and screeds by misnagdim against Chassidus. My last post was instructive. I wrote that I thought it was disturbing that many MO shuls with which I am familiar have institutionalized early selichos and the blowing of the shofar in Elul just after shemonah esrai rather than just before the end of davening to accomodate commuters. Are these two issues the end of the world? No. But they are two examples of the trend of which I spoke above. The comments, on the other hand, became a series of attacks on the very legitimacy of Chassidus!!! What does my post have to do with Chassidus?

I will no longer be blogging here because I don't really see much point in continuing.

I will keep writing my personal journal about preparing for my biking trip to Israel and you are all welcome to follow my progress (and sponsor my ride!).

I have also started writing a personal blog about the struggles and courage of a boy who has spent the last half of his ten years in the foster care system, in five homes and three institutions (the second and fourth of those years in our home).

If I have offended anyone I apologize and ask your forgiveness. It takes a lot to offend me and none of the comments so far has succeeded but I am moichel anyone who thinks he or she needs mechilah.

May Hashem bless you all with a year of health, parnasah, and, above all, peace and a chasima v'chasima tovah.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

What's Pshat II

This past week I noticed two disturbing trends in MO shuls.

The first is that in two different shuls that I davened in last week, they blew the shofar either immediately before or immediately after the repetition of Shemonah Esreih in addition to blowing it in the customary place, immediately after "aleinu" and prior to "L'David".

The second is that more and more shuls are scheduling an early reading of Selichos on motsai Shabbos (around 10:30 p.m. rather than midnight or 1 a.m.).

These may seem to some like small matters but I think they are symptomatic of a trend of avoiding mesiras nefesh (self-sacrifice) in our observance of halacha. Blowing the shofar early allows men who need to catch a train to hear shofar before finishing davening by themselves and running for the train. Is this a good thing? I'm not so sure. Perhaps it would be better for them to make the next train, especially in Elul.

The early selichos is even harder to fathom. What started years ago as a rare phenomenon in kehilas that had older populations has become a major trend in mainstream shuls. In a number of shuls the largest crowds attend the 10:30 p.m. Selichos.

I defer to Simcha and others on the halachic issues raised by saying Selichos prior to Chatzos on motsai Shabbos. I understand that R. Moshe Feinstein, zt'l was somewhat lenient on this issue (but I believe his teshuva was focused on selichos during the week, not on motsai Shabbos but even with R. Moshe it was a bedieved, not a l'chatchilah).

People will stay up late for all kinds of narishkeit. Why is it so hard to go to selichos at midnight on a motsai Shabbos (especially since the day is long enough that you can take a nap on Shabbos afternoon)?

I heard the following story:

A well-groomed man, dressed in Chassidic garb, walks into a shul that's he's never attended before. He goes to the gabbai and asks to daven for the amud.

The gabbai, sizes him up and assumes that he knows how to daven because he looks like he knows how to daven.

The visitor goes to the bimah and starts. It immediately becomes apparent that the man does not know Ivrah and does not know nusach. His davening is a disaster.

The other men in the minyan get very upset and ask the gabbai to replace the visitor. The gabbai, in turn, asks the visitor to step down but the visitor ignores him and continues. Finally, with the kehilah getting increasingly distressed, the gabbai calls on two burly men to physically remove the visitor from the amud.

One man grabs the vistor by the right arm, the other by the left. They try to remove him but he doesn't budge. The gabbai notices that the visitor has tied himself to the bimah with his gartel.

The gabbai, all upset, asks the visitor, "what's going on?".

The visitor responds: "You think this is the first time I've davened for the amud?"

This past week, I heard of a situation in my shul that was the exception to the rule suggested by the above story. We asked a young married man to daven Shachris for the amud on Yom Kippur. This man has the most beautiful voice you can imagine and knows nusach cold. We even offered to pay him to lead the davening. Even though he could use the money, he turned us down because he felt he was too young and not 'holding' by davening for the amud on Yom Kippur.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

What's P'shat?

I consider myself relatively bright (others may disagree) but there a few things I don't understand. Yesterday, as I was walking to work, I saw two phenomenon that I didn't get. First, a guy wearing baggy sweatpants, one leg down and one pushed up to the knee. What's up with that?

Second, a man appearing to be in his mid-sixties, bald, wearing what's left of his white hair pulled back in a long pony tail. I see a lot of that. I never got it. I still don't.

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

J Music CD Production Costs

I am willing to bet that the costs to produce this CD, by Yosef Karduner, were a tiny fraction (I would guess from 5 to 10%) of those to produce this one (particularly when you take into account the incredibly silly video that's included in the latter CD.)

Yet the Karduner CD is one of the best J Music CDs produced in the last few years and the other one is an interchangeable, run-of-the-mill, overproduced, Shiny Shoe special.