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

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Celebrating Yom Ha'atzmaut

What if I told you that I was celebrating Yom Ha'atzmaut today by having those well known Israeli foods, pastrami on club and chicken soup with noodles from Mendys?

If your reaction is "Huh?", that's kind of how I felt about a mesage I received today from one of my local shuls where I am a member (not my main shul).

The announcement stated that they would be celebrating Yom Ha'atzmaut by having a well known Shiny Shoe singer from Brooklyn come for Shabbos, daven Carlebach on Friday night and daven for the amud on Shabbos morning. Huh?

This singer has as little to do with Israel as pastrami and chicken soup. I don't get it.

In any event, the real reasons I had pastrami and chicken soup are (i) I am having a business dinner tonight where I expect to eat nothing, (ii) I weighed myself after my workout this afternoon and, for reasons I can't fathom, I weigh almost three pounds less than I did before Pesach, the wedding and Shevah Brachos, (iii) I haven't fargined myself a pastrami sandwich in at least two years, and (iv) l'kavod Yom Ha'atzmaut.

Chag Sameach.


Back to Normal (Whatever That Is)

Last night, for the first time since the week before Pesach, I came home to a normal dinner. Very refreshing (even if it was fish).

Much has happened in between.

1. We had Pesach with all our children for the first time in some time. Very nice, OOS delighted in "giving us the business" during the second seder as we struggled with the shmurah matzah.

2. Fifteen different ba'alei tefilah davened for the amud over Pesach (excluding mincha and chol hamoed). No more than ten of them had any business being there. (Equivalent, as I told my Rav, to entry level little league where everyone has to get a chance to bat even though half the kids don't know which end of the bat to hold). But that's a post for another time.

3. Spent a weekend in Teaneck, Ir Hakodesh. Missed a lot of crying back home.

4. Together with MHW, was zoche to walk OOD to the chupah. Very special. Besides everything else, it was a big kiddush Hashem vis a vis my co-workers and colleagues. Another post for another time.

5. Rode about 100 yards of a scheduled 50 miler. Got caught in a crevice in the road, crashed, and had OOS fall over me. I got badly scraped up all up and down my right side; OOS broke his elbow. Could have ben worse. (I told MHW we would be back my noon; we were. But instead of riding we spent the morning in the ER).

6. Attended what felt like 15 sheva brachos. Also very special. I barely made it to the last one despite the best efforts of American Airlines and air traffic control at La Guardia on my way back from a command performance in Cleveland. (Mesiras nefesh alert: The alternative to flying home for sheva brachos was attending the Indians/Red Sox game in the dugout suite which is literally next to the Red Sox dugout).

7. Went to my regular minyan this morning where there was the biggest crowd I'd ever seen. Must be a lot of religious Zionists out there who never otherwise come to shul.

8. I'm scheduled to run a half-Marathon on Sunday but I don't know how I'm going to do it. My knee is very sore from the crash and I haven't run more than 7 miles at a time. This brings home how stupid it was of me to agree to run the Nw York Marathon in November. What was I thinking?


Monday, April 20, 2009

Checking In

There is much going on around chez MoChassid, hence the lack of posting.

I hope to have a chance to post sometime later in the week.


Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Birchas Hachama and the Circle of Life

The last time we said Birchas Hachama was shorly before Pesach in 1981. A few days later, on April 19th, the first day of Yom Tov, my future HW and I were sitting on lounge chairs in her backyard in Far Rockaway, talking. We'd been dating for only seven weeks but I had been ready to marry her from the moment I saw her.

The romantic conversation went something like this:

Me: "So, you wanna get engaged?"

Future HW: "I guess so"

Me: "Like now?"

Future HW: "I guess".

(For the full story of how I met and Married MHW, click here).

So, when I say Birchas Hacham tomorrow morning (not with the chevra, I decided), that's what I will be thinking about: How incredibly blessed I've been to have met and married MHW and all the other blessings that G-d has bestowed upon me over the past 28 years since the last time we said the Bracha.


Monday, April 06, 2009

Not A Total Curmudgeon

Just to prove that I am not a total curmudgeon when it comes to Birchas Hachama, here's a slide show for your kids.

HT: Reb Jeremy, Shlita


Birchas HaChamah and the WQ

This Wednesday morning, our shul, like many others, will be hosting a Vasikin minyan following which there will be a short siyum for the bechorim and a collective trek to a nearby harbor where the chevrah will say Birchas haChamah together.

I have much to say on this on many levels.

First, this is more or less how I feel about the whole Birchas HaChamah spectacle. While I do fargin the oilam their expression of their sense of community, I don't really get all the fuss. As Ben Chorin suggests, this celebration reflects a consumer society with too much time on its hands. I've refused to buy any of the fifteen books that have been published (or even to read the articles in Mishpacha and oher magazines) because I have a hard enough time setting aside time to review the Haggadah and I don't have time for distractions. But, whatever.

The immediate issue I am struggling with is whether to join my kehilah at the "show" or just daven early (as I always do) and say the bracha on my own, with no fanfare. On the one hand, it is my kehilah and my Rebbe so I feel a certain attachment. On the other, there is no telling what manner of weirdo this is likely to attract. Anyone with a car and the will to get up early can come and, like all other non-Shabbos related events (especially those that are free) hosted by the shul, likely will. (Mitigating against a big turnout is the fact that, in my experience, there is a very high freakiness-lateness correlation so I question whether the real high-WQ chevrah will make it to a vasikin minyan).

I guess it comes down to this: Do I want to join the kehilah for the potential entertainment value or do I want a moment of personal introspection where I can think about the cycle of Jewish life, the flow of the years, the abundant brachas that G-d has granted me and my family and contemplate whether I will be zoche to be around for the next Birchas Hachamah (when I would be 82)? Don't expect to see me there.


Friday, April 03, 2009

Memories of Shea

Inspired by the Great Joe Schick (my new partner-in-tickets at Citi Field), herewith some of my musings on Shea Stadium.

With "Judah".

Pulling "an Uppa"

I've had many great memories at Shea. I caught a wicked line drive on the fly; I met Darryl Strawberry on the field, and, most importantly, I spent a lot of quality time with my dad and kids.