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

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Ownership In Doubt

Andy Petite's "ownership" of the Boston Red Sox has been thrust into doubt after his pummeling at their hands on Friday night.


Friday, April 27, 2007

Sports Friday: Dumb Sportscasters

Driving to the train station this morning, I heard this priceless tidbit from the Dog:

"Andy Petite owns the Redsox"
I've heard stupider comments but I honestly can't remember when. In general, pitchers down "own" teams and hitters don't "own" pitchers. This is one of those conventional baseball wisdom myths. But, when applied to Andy Petite and the Redsox, it's absolutely idiotic.

If I'm not mistaken, Andy Petite has spent the last three years in the National League. As I recall, most, if not all of that time, the Redsox were in the American League. It is possible (because of interleague play) that Petite faced the Redsox once or twice during those three years (it's also possible that he never faced them, I'm too lazy to look it up).

So, to say that because Petite did well four or more years ago he will do well against a team that probably looks nothing like those old Redsox teams, is ridiculous.

Furthermore, I think the Doppey Dog said Petite's career won-lost record against the Redsox is something like 13-5 or 13-6. Well, duh, his career record is 187-104, a .643 winning percentage. That is not far off the .684 or .722 winning percentage that he has against the Sox. If he "owns" the Sox, he also "owns" the league.

The good news for Dog and his ilk is that you can really be a dope and still do well on sportstalk radio. As long as you scream and make a ruckus, you are safe.


Our First Game

My brother (who remembers everyone's birthday and never forgets a phone number) just pointed me to the box score of first baseball game that my father, z'l, took us to. He found it on a website called Retrosheet. I was 8 and he was ten. I only vaguely remember the game but I do recall that Mickey Mantle hit two homers and Roger Maris one. The obvious question: Why would my father have taken us to a Yankees game when he was a die hard Mets fan: Answer: The Mets had not yet moved to Shea. I guess it was easier to go to Yankees Stadium than the Polo Grounds.

(The boxscore doesn't come out well so I am deleting it and leaving only the game summary)

New York Yankees 7, Kansas City Athletics 4

DayGame Played on Tuesday, May 21, 1963 (N) at Yankee Stadium

ATHLETICS 1ST: Weather: Cool - Threatening rain; Causey
singled to left; Tartabull was called out on strikes; Lumpe
singled to left [Causey to second]; Siebern flied out to left;
Charles forced Causey (third unassisted); 0 R, 2 H, 0 E, 2 LOB.
Athletics 0, Yankees 0.

YANKEES 1ST: Boyer struck out; Richardson singled to center;
Tresh walked [Richardson to second]; Mantle homered [Richardson
scored, Tresh scored]; Maris flied out to right; Pepitone struck
out; 3 R, 2 H, 0 E, 0 LOB. Athletics 0, Yankees 3.

ATHLETICS 2ND: Jimenez struck out; Cimoli flied out to center;
Sullivan walked; Pena struck out; 0 R, 0 H, 0 E, 1 LOB.
Athletics 0, Yankees 3.

YANKEES 2ND: Howard singled to center; Kubek singled to center
[Howard to second]; On a bunt Bouton forced Howard (pitcher to
third) [Kubek to second]; Boyer singled to left [Kubek scored,
Bouton to second]; Richardson forced Boyer (third to second)
[Bouton to third]; Tresh grounded out (second to first); 1 R, 3
H, 0 E, 2 LOB. Athletics 0, Yankees 4.

ATHLETICS 3RD: Causey singled to right; Tartabull grounded into
a double play (shortstop to first) [Causey out at second]; Lumpe
grounded out (second to first); 0 R, 1 H, 0 E, 0 LOB. Athletics
0, Yankees 4.

YANKEES 3RD: Mantle struck out; Maris made an out to second;
Pepitone made an out to shortstop; 0 R, 0 H, 0 E, 0 LOB.
Athletics 0, Yankees 4.

ATHLETICS 4TH: Siebern flied out to right; Charles singled to
center; Bouton threw a wild pitch [Charles to third]; Jimenez
walked; Cimoli walked [Jimenez to second]; Sullivan hit a
sacrifice fly to right [Charles scored, Jimenez to third];
ALUSIK BATTED FOR PENA; Alusik walked [Cimoli to second]; Causey
struck out; 1 R, 1 H, 0 E, 3 LOB. Athletics 1, Yankees 4.

center; Kubek doubled [Howard to third]; Bouton struck out;
Boyer reached on a fielder's choice [Howard out at home (second
to catcher)]; Richardson made an out to second; 0 R, 2 H, 0 E, 2
LOB. Athletics 1, Yankees 4.

ATHLETICS 5TH: Tartabull grounded out (shortstop to first);
Lumpe grounded out (second to first); Siebern homered; Charles
grounded out (shortstop to first); 1 R, 1 H, 0 E, 0 LOB.
Athletics 2, Yankees 4.

YANKEES 5TH: On a bunt Tresh singled to second; Mantle homered
[Tresh scored]; Maris homered; Pepitone singled; Howard flied
out to left [Pepitone to second]; Kubek struck out; Bouton
struck out; 3 R, 4 H, 0 E, 1 LOB. Athletics 2, Yankees 7.

ATHLETICS 6TH: Jimenez flied out to right; Cimoli homered;
Sullivan flied out to left; HOWSER BATTED FOR SEGUI; Howser
walked; HAMILTON REPLACED BOUTON (PITCHING); Causey struck out;
1 R, 1 H, 0 E, 1 LOB. Athletics 3, Yankees 7.

grounded out (third to first); Richardson grounded out
(shortstop to first); Tresh flied out to right; 0 R, 0 H, 0 E, 0
LOB. Athletics 3, Yankees 7.

ATHLETICS 7TH: Tartabull struck out; Lumpe grounded out (second
to first); Siebern singled to right; Charles singled to left
[Siebern to second]; Jimenez singled to center [Siebern scored,
Charles to third]; Cimoli made an out to shortstop; 1 R, 3 H, 0
E, 2 LOB. Athletics 4, Yankees 7.

an out to shortstop; Maris grounded out (second to first);
Pepitone flied out to left; 0 R, 0 H, 0 E, 0 LOB. Athletics 4,
Yankees 7.

Essegian flied out to left; Causey made an out to shortstop; 0
R, 0 H, 0 E, 0 LOB. Athletics 4, Yankees 7.

to pitcher; Kubek forced Howard (second to shortstop); Hamilton
out on a sacrifice bunt (pitcher to second) [Kubek to second];
Boyer made an out to first; 0 R, 1 H, 0 E, 1 LOB. Athletics 4,
Yankees 7.

ATHLETICS 9TH: Tartabull grounded out (pitcher to first); Lumpe
lined to left; Siebern flied out to left; 0 R, 0 H, 0 E, 0 LOB.
Athletics 4, Yankees 7.

Final Totals R H E LOB
Athletics 4 9 0 9
Yankees 7 12 0 6


Thursday, April 26, 2007

OOS Makes A Big Announcement

And a shocking one at that


Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Two Stupid Laws

The New York City Council apparently has nothing better to do than pass stupid laws and then override the sensible Mayor Bloomberg's vetoes of the stupid laws.

On Monday they overrode his veto of ridiculous legislation that bans high school baseball teams from using aluminum bats. What's next? A law to mandate the permissible mass of a hockey puck? (BTW, I have to believe that high school football is fifty times more dangerous than baseball with or without aluminum bats. Why don't they ban football?). Is this what the legislature should be spending its time on?

The same day they overrode Bloomberg's veto of the pedicab regulation legislation. I thought they were all liberal greenies? Aren't pedicabs green? Why make it way more expensive for them to run and limit the number to 350 city-wide? Could it have anything to do with the fact that the medallion taxi cab lobby spent a fortune pushing the law? And that it means revenue for the city council to waste on nonsense?

I'm just asking.


More on Aliyah

From OOS


Tuesday, April 24, 2007

The New CD

We are making good progress on the second project of my not-for-profit company, Shirei Shmuel, Inc. Aron Razel, Shlomo Katz and Chaim Dovid will be going into the studio in Israel in about ten days to start the recording process.

I'm still not at liberty to discuss the CD in more detail but I will soon. I can say that I have heard sketches of the material and am very excited.

I have raised a good portion of the money (and am contributing a significant portion myself) but I am still looking for one or two more sponsors. I need to find the last $5,000 to complete the CD. If anyone out there is interested, drop me an email.


Moc: The A'Rod of Business Lunches

I have been watching in amazement Alex Rodriguez's incredible, ney, historic, April run. (If not for A'Rod, the pathetic Yankees would be hopelessly buried; as it is they are only in big trouble. Of course, the fickle Yankees fans will forget all this next time A'Rod strikes out with two out in the bottom of the ninth, the bases loaded and the Yankees down by two. But we digress).

As amazing as is A'Rod's performance, yours truly, Mo'C, is deeply involved in an equally historic, if gastronomic, streak. Already this week I have had one business lunch and one business breakfast. I am scheduled to have three more lunches this week and four more next week.

While it's surely impressive to hit 14 homers in 18 games, I challenge Mr. Rodriguez to do what I am set to do without gaining a pound and while still being able to balance himself on a racing bicycle.


Rabbi Horowitz and Gil

Rabbi Yakov Horowitz ("RYH") has been writing a series of articles for Mishpacha magazine that are, by Chareidi standards, controversial if not radical. (Full disclosre: RYH is my fisrt cousin). Recently, an annonymous letter was published in Mishpacha taking RYH to task for doubting "daas Torah" and promoting such radical changes to the education system. The letter is reproduced here.

Gil, while confirming that he is generally a supporter of RYH, suggests that, perhaps some of the criticism contained in that letter should be taken to heart.

To wit:

Let me repeat this key sentence [from the annonymous letter], ignoring the poor grammar (at least the letter writer practices what he preaches): "The responsibility of changing the schools based on a doubtful theory is very scary."

One of R. Horowitz's key themes is that our current system of education is driving kids out of the community, off the derekh. We need to change how we raise our youth, R. Horowitz argues, because otherwise disaster is impending.

Is he right? I don't know. Where's the data backing up his theories? Where are the studies proving his point? As I pointed out in this post, a lot of the discussions on this topic use a few anecdotes and statements from "experts" (usually including R. Horowitz) to prove their points. While my gut tells me that he is right, are we really ready to make such a radical change without conducting rigorous analysis? Social experimentation is risky, especially when dealing with a community that is a link in a chain of tradition that spans thousands of years.

Will such studies silence the right-wing critics? Unquestionably not. But perhaps we owe it to ourselves to take this criticism seriously and proceed with due caution.
IMHO, you can do all the studies you want and the entrenched Chareidi establishment will attack them or ignore them. Is there any question that the system is broken? Do you need studies to confirm that "all Talmud all day long" won't work for all (or even most) kids? Is there any doubt that the system has been geared to elite kids and that many can't cut the mustard? How does one conduct such a study anyway?

And, is the system really prodcuing "gedolim"? Where are they? Where are the articulate leaders? Or is the homogenous educational system simply cranking out "Chumra machines" who are afraid to stray from the narrow accepted path?

Only a "radical" (again, by Chareidi standards) grassroots approach has any chance of making inroads. Mishpacha Magazine is to be commended for offering RYH its important platform to spread his common sense beliefs.

(And, by the way, I recommend that you read the comments section of RYH's post for some interesting responses).


Monday, April 23, 2007

Hatchet Job In the Making?

A few commentors are encouraging Tzemach Atlas of Mentalblog to "expose" Ohel. While TA seems to be resisting, he does so in a way that assumes, because it is a "chareidi organization, that Ohel is no more or less corrupt and non-transparent than any other Chareidi organization, and therefore not worth the effort.

I was reluctant to even link to this post but apparently people read that blog (although I must admit that I never have).

I have one thing to say: Never have I seen so much stupidity and ignorance as I have on this one post and a previous one where people brought up shockingly stupid and completely baseless accusations against Ohel.

Although there is much more that I could say, all I will say is that there is a two year old that we know whose life would be very different if not for the dedicated people, from top to bottom, who work for Ohel.


Yom Ha'atzmaut: I Could Not Have Said It Better...

Than Ben


JIB Awards and MoC

This will be a short post.

You will notice that there is no link to the JIB Awards voting site because, once again, the Mo'ster hasn't been nominated in any of the 6,000 categories. In other words, none of the 300 or so readers who frequent this space on a daily basis felt compelled to take the minute or so to go over to JIB and nominate me.

But I'm not bitter.

(What amazes me is that, with the exception of the obvious ones, I have absolutely no idea who most of the nominees are. Who has time to read all that stuff?)

Perhaps if there had been a category like "Best Blogger Over The Age of 50", or "Best Narishkeit Blog", I would have had a chance.


Sunday, April 22, 2007

What's Pshat: Talis Edition

1. Among the many things that drive me crazy is when guys wear taleisim to shul on Shabbos and (even worse), Yom Tov. I think it is not tznuah. If you don't 'hold by' the eruv (despite the fact that every rabbi in the community does), make arrangements to bring your talis Friday night, or at least, wear the talis under your jacket. And, what's up with yom tov? We aren't in Israel and we aren't in a yeshiva town.

2. What's up with Avi Weiss wearing his talis to demonstrations? If he wants to get arrested, gezunter height, and kol hakavod, I support him 100%. But, please, ditch the talis thing. It's gotten very old already. I recently read the following explanation from Steg:

If I remember correctly, I read somewhere that Rav Avi Weiss came up with the idea of wearing a tallis while performing acts of activism in order to demonstrate that the acts are motivated by a specifically Jewish religious moral ethic. And so, many of the participants (who, remember, are mostly rabbis and rabbinical students) were wearing talleisim, some tied so that they wouldn't fall off during the arrest process.
Nevertheless, I think it's silly.


Is Aliyah The Only Way?

OOS wonders.


So Begins the Task, IV

Training, and blogging, begins over at Riding with MoC


Thursday, April 19, 2007

OOS Is Amused



The Blackberry Kerfuffle

As was noted in the comments section to yesterday's post, my blackberry problem was not isolated. Rather, there was a systemwide network interruption, causing many psychos like me much angst.

Millions of Blackberry batteries were removed and re-inserted, many tens of times, in the hope that this low tech solution would work (as it often does). Thousands of IT departments were disparaged by Type A executives who were forced to go cold turkey. Only later did the word get out that it was not an internal problem but a systemic one.

A cute story from yesterday when service was restored mid morning. Many of the people in my office were attending a conference with about 150 people. When service was restored, a loud din of buzzing started and didn't stop. Problem was, it was in the middle of a panel discussion. (And, of course, from that moment on, everyone began checking their emails). I can't even imagine how distracting that must have been to the panelists.


Wednesday, April 18, 2007

More Davening PSA's

1. After surviving the Belz niggunim a couple of years ago, and Niggun Neshamah last year, we are now being inundated with yet another wedding song that, for whatever reason, ba'alei tefilah believe must be put to every single part of davening imaginable.

I am speaking, of course, of the current version of "Hodu Lashem Ki Tov". Enough already! It's already played out, people. Ich kenesht.

2. There should be a rule in my shul that only men who are planning to take the 8:01 LIRR train from Woodmere can daven for the amud on Rosh Chodesh (or, for that matter, on any day when there is no chiyuv in shul). And, under no circumstances can you ever let a kollel yungerleit daven for the amud on a weekday morning. They just don't get it.

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Berry Berry Bad

My Crackberry is not working this morning. That's berry bad.

Each morning at around 5:30 a.m. I am comforted by the daily email messages that I am sure to find on my blackberry. The Wall Street Journal's editorial page, the Daily Bankruptcy Report email, my daily junk mail report. All is in order.

But not today. They weren't there this morning. Trouble.

So, I tried my usual tricks. Turned off the wireless connection. Nothing. Took out and replaced the battery. Nothing.

I survived the morning, made it to work and finally checked my emails. I'm not sure how long I can last.

UPDATE: At 9:42 a.m. my hip started buzzing again.


Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Better Lucky Than Good

Ten days ago I made a somewhat risky unilateral decision to intervene in a case affecting my industry. It was Good Friday and I knew that I would not be able to convene the required board meeting and get approval in time to file the papers, which were due the following Monday. But I felt that it was very important to take a position so I called the chairman, got his ok, and went ahead anyway.

This afternoon we have a regularly-scheduled board meeting to discuss a number of topics, among them a ratification of my decision to intervene.

At around noon today, I received an email from counsel that the motion that we intervened to oppose was denied. (In plain English, we won!).

I love days like these.


Monday, April 16, 2007

The Toddler Speaks

It is fascinating to watch how TT's language is developing right in front of our eyes. She is stringing together words (Instead of "Ist", it's now "Ist down"; Instead of "Abba!!" when I come home from work, it's Abba 'ome!").

She is also singing songs (dayenu is her favorite) and her play is getting more sophisticated.

I'm sure these things also fascinated me when our biological children were growing up but that was so long ago I don't remember very well. (It could also be that I was so busy trying to become a Master of the Universe that I didn't notice as much.)

It is amazing how one little vance can dominate a household.


Umbrella Rage

We have all heard of road rage. I am here to report that the next iteration of road rage is umbrella rage and New York City will be the capital of umbrella rage.

I don't know when this trend started but these days more and more people are using umbrellas that are half-a-city-block big. You know, the kind that once were relegated to the golf course? Many of them have two layers (what's up with that?).

The problem is that so many people are using them, it is impossible to walk down the street without smashing into someone else's umbrella. This problem is exacerbated by the fact that three quarters of the city seems to be covered with scaffolding, further reducing the usable footage in which to walk.

I get why people use them. The traditional umbrellas kept one's head dry but that was about it. The new umbrellas are good for families of four.

Nevertheless, I know that one day soon, someone is going to pull out a gun and shoot the next person who bumps into him with a mega umbrella.

You will have heard it here first.


Sunday, April 15, 2007

A Story About My Dad, Z'L

I received the following email tonight:

Here's a story: Our good friends, Chaim David & Penny (Saracik) were with us for shabbos w/some of their kids. When my husband walked them out to the car, Chaim David handed him the new disc he'd been working on. He brought it in, handed it to me & I flip it over to look at it. I see this familiar face on the back of it. I open it up and there is a picture of a guy who looks exactly like Chazan Chassid! I still didn't 'get it'. Then I read the l'zecher…and STILL DIDN'T GET IT! and then I finally yell to my husband –Hey! this is Chazan Chassid!

Still trying to absorb what I am holding in my hand, I began reading your dedication & when I got to the part where you mention your siblings, I realized – this is Mo Chassid! Don't know if you remember me – Old Friend.

I read all the beautiful things you wrote about your father which are so true. I think my sister told me that she'd heard that your father had passed away. Chazan Chassid was a major part of my childhood. Derech Emunah (our old shul) was such a pillar of my childhood. Your father introduced me to music and tefillah. When I was little I stayed in shul for the entire davening because I loved your father's tefillah so much. I remember the choir and how he used to introduce new tunes into the davening all the time. He was a beautiful soul. His smile, his warmth, his caring – are all remembered with love by me and all of my siblings. May his memory be for blessing always.

I'll end this e-mail with this story: We moved to Israel 22 yrs. ago. I was never able to find a shul I liked. Even after we moved out of Arverne & before & after I married, I never ever enjoyed shul. I was always conscious of the fact that nothing- NOTHING matched up to what we grew up with. Nothing is like Chazan Chassid's tefillah. We lived in the Shomron for 12 yrs and nothing on the yishuv was for me. We moved to Petach Tikvah about 11 yrs. ago and after about 5 yrs. I met someone (while trying out, yet another minyan) who told me that someone was starting a Carlebach minyan the following wk. I went – hoping maybe this would be what I was looking for.

I was in 7th heaven. I was HOME. I sang my heart out. I closed my eyes and I was back in Derech Emunah and it was 1966, ya know? Red velvet curtain on the mechitza, red carpeting, wooden benches… After the davening 2 or 3 women whom I'd never met approached me and asked me how I know the Carlebach nussach. I told them – I didn't even know these tunes were Carlebach. I grew up with this nussach! When I was a little girl, this was the only davening I knew. For decades I've been trying to recreate this experience. I've finally found it – B"H.

So I called Chaim David right away and told him that I can't believe Mo Chassid put out this disc and I felt so emotional I wanted to cry. I had a house full of guests –all special - and shabbos was over; we'd shared a simcha together in Petach Tikvah and now everyone was gone and it was as if Hashem – no it WAS Hashem sending me a sparkling prize after a beautiful light filled shabbos. Thank you so much for doing this fitting thing in your father's memory. May this and all future projects raise his neshoma ever higher.

Feel free to share this with your family if you think it will warm their hearts.

Shavua tov,
Yes, Old Friend, it will certainly warm their hearts, as it did mine.


Friday, April 13, 2007

Sports Friday - David Wright Should Bat Second

Willie Randolph batted David Wright second through some of spring training. This was very hard to believe because it made too much sense. Wright is a much better and hitter than Paul Lo Duca and would, if left in the second slot all year, get approximately 60 more at bats than if he batted 5th.

(And although there is zero empirical evidence that placement in any particular batting slot has any statistical significance, batting him in front of the hard hitting Carlos Beltran, would, according to those who continue to believe things that simply aren't true, "protect" Wright and allow him to see "better pitches").

Predictably, as soon as meaningful games began, Willie ("I have a hunch") Randolph reverted to form and put Wright back at 5th. This will likely cost the Mets one to two wins this year. It could be the margin between first place and a wild card (or worse).


Thursday, April 12, 2007

Psychosomatic Buzzing UPDATED

As you know, I am addicted to my crackberry. It buzzes all day long, sometimes long into the evening. I attach it to my left hip as soon as I dress in the morning and don't remove it until I'm ready for bed.

Lately, something weird has been happening. I've been feeling the buzzing on my left hip even when I'm not wearing the berry. Shabbos. Yom Tov. In the middle of the night.

What's going on?

I wonder if this happens to other people or whether it's just me.


It's apparently not just me. And, OOS says its time for an intervention.


Feeling Old

Last night OYS was watching the Mets game and in the booth for a couple of innings was this old looking man. Imagine my shock when, looking closer, I realized that the old man was Jerry Koosman, one of the pitching heroes of the 1969 World Champion Mets.

I found myself describing to OYS how "Amazin'" the 1969 Mets were and how good Koosman was, particularly in tandem with Tom Seaver. I was 14 at the time and the memories remain vivid.

It then occurred to me that, to OYS, I might as well have been talking about Babe Ruth. In fact, as I thought about it, and as hard as this is to believe, I realized that the time between when Ruth retired and when I was 18 is the exact amount of time between the 1969 Mets and now, when OYS is 18! Gadzooks!

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Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Great Moments in Investigative Reporting

This morning my associate told me that "Joe Trader", an important trader at an important investment bank (XYZ), had suddenly left his firm. She had spoken to him on Tuesday morning but when she sent him an email later that afternoon, a reply message came back that he no longer worked at XYZ. At 10:20 a.m. I sent emails to two of my buddies in the industry. By 11:30, I knew he had joined "ABC", another investment bank. By 11:45 we tracked him down and talked to him on the phone.

At 6:30 this evening, I received a blast email from the trade rag that covers my industry with the "news" that Joe Trader had left XYZ. Amazingly, the last sentence of the newsflash said that "it was unknown at press time where Joe Trader would be working".

I immediately emailed the "reporter" and gave her the lowdown. (Now she owes me; that's how it works). Sheesh.


Weird Elevator Story

Or, more precisely, weird man in a perfectly normal elevator story.

I just took the elevator from the lobby of my building to my office on the 16th floor. At the same time, another man, who I'd never seen before, entered the elevator. He pushed the button for the 12th floor but nothing happened. I explained to him that in order to access a floor, you need a special card that you flash against the electronic sensor.

As we were ascending to 16, he asked me if this was a dangerous building to be in. I said no, you just needed an access card which you can get by checking with security in the lobby.

He asked again whether this was a dangerous building to be in. I said no. It's not a dangerous building to be in BECAUSE you need a special access card.

I wonder if this conversation had anything to do with the fact that the 12th floor houses the Screen Actors Guild?


Time for Disbarment

Predictably, the Attorney General of North Carolina will be dropping all of the trumped up charges against the "Duke Three". It was clear almost immediately that the charges were a joke and that the case was brought by District Attorney Michael Nifong solely to enhance his re-election prospects.

This was a horrendous miscarriage of justice. I look forward to the day when Mike Nifong will have to answer for this scandalous abuse of power.


OOS Wonders...

What's with the cats?


Post-Pesach Random Thought Roundup

1. I made a deal with OYS. He has a problem with my leaving not-completely-finished cups of coffee in his car. He doesn't like the smell. I told him that if agrees to launder his hockey jersey (which has not been washed once during his two seasons on varsity and smelss up the entire second floor of our house), I would agree to refrain from leaving cups of coffee in his car.

2. OOS called from Yerushalayim on Acharon shel Pesach to rub it in. He left a message on our phone that 1he and HHW were eating both pizza and falafel (Shalom's falafel, at that) at the same time. I guess we deserve it.

3. The thing that I missed most during Pesach was my morning coffee. There just isn't anything like Flavia Sumatro to get your engine fired.

4. For some reason, I ran out of gas after the seventh day of yom tov. I think a lot has to do with how busy I am at work and how intense it is. I was on the phone and blackberry on both Friday and Sunday until right before candle lighting!

5. I decided that we are going to move up our aliyah plans to three years from now. OYD will be starting seminary in Israel and OYS will be a senior at YU (or wherever he ends up) but I will be commuting to the US each week so I will be around for him. The Toddler will be 5 and just starting Kindergarten; a perfect time to move. Of course, MHW pointed out the scores of practical reasons why it isn't so simple. (Why do people always have to be so practical?). I figure I have more than two years to simplify the complex.

6. I have become the "go-to" baal tefilah my shul in certain circumstances. Like whenever there is a particularly slow baal Shaachris or on Shabbos Chol Hamoed when say Hallel and Shir Hashirim. I can always be counted on to daven nicely but very quickly. I did not disappoint this past Shabbos. (I also know how to switch nuschaos between yom tov and Shabbos; a lost art that only a handful of baalei tefilah can manage these days. This was something about which my father, z'l, was very makpid; he drilled it into me and my older brother).

7. In contrast, one of the baalei musaf took over 35 minutes to complete musaf and we didn't get out until 11:40 (after starting at 8:30). This led me to propose a by-law amendment; if musaf starts after 11 a.m. on any Shabbos, only I and two other similarly fast baalei tefilah can daven for the amud.


Friday, April 06, 2007

The Canary in the Coal Mine

From Rabbi Yakov Horowitz:

I ask all fathers to think about the term “Canary in a Coal Mine” as an excellent metaphor to keep in mind when raising children. Early coal mines did not have adequate ventilation systems, nor did the miners have sophisticated detection devices for deadly methane and/or carbon monoxide gases. Canaries are especially sensitive to methane and carbon monoxide, which made them ideal for detecting any dangerous gas build-ups. Miners would therefore routinely bring a caged canary into new coal seams. As long as the ‘canary in the coal mine’ kept singing, the miners knew their air supply was safe. Once the canary quit chirping, signaling that it was ill – or worse – that would signal that conditions would turn deadly for humans in the near future and an immediate evacuation was in order.

In my many years of dealing with families and at-risk children, I have found that wives and (usually eldest) children serve as “Canaries in Coal Mines.” For when they stop singing – when the simchas hachayim of a family life begins eroding – it is a sure sign that things are not in order and it is almost certain that there will be casualties chas v’shalom in the future unless immediate changes are made to the environment. I have also found that mothers are usually far more sensitive to hearing these warning signs than are fathers (I discussed this regarding the concept of making aliya in last week's column).

So please listen carefully to your wife – now and forever.
This is sage advice. Being a kanoi (zealot) can suck the life out of your family. Adopting chumra after chumra can destroy your children's simchas hachayim. Everything has to be measured and, as RYH says, it is often the wives (and (usually eldest) children) who are much more attuned to these issues.


OOS Laments

Yeridas Hadoros


Sunday, April 01, 2007

Stick a Fork in OOS

He's Done.


Can I Really Be This Old?

Walking home from Shul on Friday night, it dawned on me that my Hebrew birthday had just passed and that I had turned 52 the previous day. Thinking about it more, and doing the math, I realized that my bar mitzvah (Tzav was my bar mitzvah parsha) had taken place 39 years ago! Then, thinking about it a little more, it occurred to me that 39 was divisible by 13 (as was, of course, 52).

I am 4 times bar mitzvah!



The Toddler's Breakfast Menu

MHW tried foisting off Pesach cereal on TT. She wasn't buying. Yecchh. Who can blame her? So, instead, it looks like it's going to be strawberries and blueberries for breakfast the next 8 days. She has expensive tastes.

This morning she had a chocolate chip muffin top and a sour pickle. Pizza for lunch. You gotta love this kid.