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Archive for the ‘Holidays’ Category

Reposted from 2008.

Last year, I posted some pictures from my visit to the Chareidim Shemurah Matzoh Bakery.

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This past Sunday, my wife, two of my daughters and I stopped in to “Chareidim” to buy our matzah, they have the thinnest, crispiest matzah that my wife absolutely insists on. One of the great things about going there is that you can watch the whole process, from the cutting of the dough:

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Through the rolling and flattening of the dough which I didn’t snap this year because there was a private chaburah working and I wasn’t sure that they wanted to be photographed. They were just putting some fresh wood into the oven when we got there.

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And we saw this guy quickly baking the mazah.

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The matzah is then cooled and sent upstairs for boxing.

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Reposted from way back in 2007.

Yesterday, I paid a visit to the Charedim Shmurah Matzah Bakery in Boro Park.

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Charedim bakes the thinnest, crispiest shmura matzah you can find. Of course, all of the matzah is made, at least according to the sign on the wall “L’shem Matzos Mitzvah”.

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One guy was pounding the dough on a constant basis. Although he had been working over ten hours, he was smiling and happy to pose for a picture, even telling me to take it over since he was not in a good position on the first one.

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The matzah was then rolled out on tables until extremely flat (this pic is taken through plexiglass).

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My daughters got a kick out of the “coundtdown” where they count down the last ten seconds before the 18 minute period is completed and then everyone stops for the tables and utensils to be cleaned.

After the rolling, the matzah was then placed on rods and brought to a wood burning stove that was roaring with flames.

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The baker was so helpful,

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he told me where to stand to take the best picture and counted down from three to one to the perfect point when to take this shot.

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After they are baked, the matzahs are removed from the oven and placed in a bin where they are inspected and packaged.

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We were also fortunate enough to see a gentlemen “taking challah” on a batch.

Chag Kasher v’ Sameach, I will not be blogging over Chol HaMoed.

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OJ and Me

In the Fall of 1995, I was employed at a small civil defense law firm on Wall Street. It was Aseres Yemei Teshuvah (the ten days of repentance from Rosh HaShanah to Yom Kippur) and OJ Simpson was on trial for the murder of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend, Ronald Goldman. On October 3rd, the news broke that the jury had reached its verdict. Most of us at the firm were huddled into a small corner office where we kept the television that we would use to view surveillance videotapes. There were myriad reasons why everyone in the office was interested in watching the verdict. Some of us were sports fans who had grown up watching OJ’s Hall of Fame career as a running back for the Buffalo Bills. Others were interested in the racial perspective of the case which seemed to be polarizing the nation. Still others, as lawyers, were interested in watching the judicial system in action with some of the nation’s top lawyers at work. I think that for others (and perhaps for all of us) it was reality tv writ large. Some of these reasons engendered my interest as well. But there was something else. Something more. It was erev Yom Kippur (the eve of Yom Kippur) and I couldn’t help associating myself with OJ, as loathsome as I found him. He, like me, was awaiting his verdict. I watched with earnestness as OJ waited for the jury to enter. I wondered, what must be going through his mind? What does a person think about when his life hangs in the balance? How did it feel to know that the decision was imminent? How could he stand to just sit there and wait for his verdict?! And how could I? I, too, was awaiting my verdict as that evening began the Yom HaDin, the Day of Judgment.

OJ was eventually acquitted and his acquittal became the symbol of a system gone awry. I didn’t have much interest in the aftermath of the acquittal and the subsequent civil trial. Life moved on.

It’s now Aseres Yemei Teshuvah, thirteen years later and it’s deja vu all over again. I find myself once again struggling with some of the same issues I had struggled with back then. Thirteen years to the day on the Gregorian calendar, OJ is again faced with a jury verdict that will decide his fate for the rest of his life. I can’t help but wonder how this guy who barely escaped a severe verdict last time could be so stupid as to place himself in such a precarious situation yet again. And then, I find myself doing it again. I’m associating myself with OJ once more. I know some of you are thinking that I’m hyperbolizing. I know. It’s true that I’ve never killed anyone or committed armed robbery. But I can’t help but think that I sometimes don’t take these things seriously enough and maybe I need something a bit more concrete to bring the point home.

This time, OJ was convicted. He could go to prison for the rest of his life. Most people think that he got what was coming to him after skating last time. I’m not interested in all that. I’ve got some heavy work to do and only a few days left in which to do it. The court that I’ll be appearing before doesn’t make mistakes and if I’ve been given yet another opportunity, I’ve got to take it seriously.

Gmar Chasima Tovah

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Originally posted at Beyond Teshuvah.

Shlomo HaMelekh, the wisest of all men, tells us: Do not rebuke a scoffer, lest he hate you; rebuke a wise man, and he will love you.

The surface level interpretation of this is simple. A scoffer doesn’t want to hear rebuke and, so, when you rebuke him, he will hate you. A wise person, on the other hand, is always looking for an opportunity for growth. When you rebuke him he will love you since you are pointing out a flaw in a certain area and giving him an opportuniy for additional growth.

The Shelah has a deeper interpretation of this verse, The Shelah explains that the verse doesn’t speak about two different types of people being rebuked, it speaks about two different ways of giving rebuke. One way of rebuking is something like this: “You are disgusting! You have some nerve behaving that way. You don’t know what you are doing. You better shape up.” By rebuking this way, the rebuker turns the one who is being rebuked into a scoffer and he will then “hate you”. The other way of rebuking is something like this: “You are a great person. You are a wise and introspective person with good middos. I’ve noticed something that doesn’t seem to fit with your good qualities. If you work on this issue, you will refine yourself even more.” By rebuking in this manner, the rebuker is making the one who is being rebuked into a wise man and he will “love you.”

Rabbi Hadar Margolin in his HaSimchah B’Moadim (partially available in english as “Crown Him with Joy”) explains that this insight into giving rebuke is just as applicable when rebuking oneself, especially in the pre-Rosh Hashana teshuvah mode. The mishnah in Avos adjoins us: “Do not view yourself as a rasha.” Don’t regard yourself as a scoffer, “rebuke a wise man!” Tell yourself: “I am the grandchild of Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov. I have good qualities, I’m striving to grow. As such, it is incumbent upon me to improve myself in this particular area.” Such an approach motivates and stimulates improvement. The opposite approach, beating oneself up and degrading oneself can cause depression and lead one to think that he can never improve thereby creating a barrier to teshuvah.

Kesiva v’Chasima Tova.

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Aish provides a timely Tisha B’Av message from the 1980 U.S. Olympic Hockey Team.

If you’ re stuck at home on Tisha B’Av, The Jewish Heritage Center of Queens and Long Island is providing a phone hookup for Kinnos, learning and lectures and The OU has a live Tisha B’Av webcast.

Torah Tots provides an informative page on Tisha B’Av for kids.

WebYeshiva has a whole group of lectures and source material on Tisha B’Av and the Nine Days.

A Simple Jew provides Sinas Chinam – A Story for Tisha B’Av

Dixie Yid has Rabbi Chaim Morgenstern’s Remembering the Churban Beis Hamikdash – Part 1 – -Part 2- -Part 3- and – Part 4-

Here on Temunot, there are two relevant Tisha B’Av links:

Tucking in the Mashiach

Frozen Scream

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The Jewish Heritage Center of Queens and Long Island is providing a phone hookup for Kinnos, learning and lectures this Tisha B’Av. The full information is below (click to enlarge).

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I wrote this on motzei Tisha B’Av, three years ago. It subsequently appeared in Horizons Magazine and on Lazer Beams and here on Temunot on July 24, 2007.

This Tisha B’Av, unlike most years, I decided to pray at the late afternoon minyan, around 7:20 PM. As always, my eight-and-a-half year old son jumped at the opportunity to come to shul. He stood, as usual, wide-eyed at the pulpit during the Torah-reading and he found it particularly interesting to watch men don their talleisim and tefillin so late in the day.

During the praying, the skies began to crackle with lightning and bellow with thunder. By the time mincha had concluded, it was pouring so hard that we decided to sit for the 25 minutes or so before maariv instead of braving the downpour and running home, even though home was just across the street.

Usually, when waiting between mincha and maariv, my son and I will review the parsha or learn pirkei avos. As it is generally not permitted to learn Torah on Tisha B’Av, we sat down instead to shmooze about the loss of the Beis HaMikdash. I thought perhaps that I could teach him something that would make Tisha B’Av just a touch more relevant.

The lamentation of Eili Zion has always struck a chord with me. The haunting niggun recounting the vivid allegory of a mother in labor has the ability to squeeze at least one tear out of an otherwise exhausted body and calloused heart. So, I began telling Aryeh about how the wailing of the Jewish nation throughout our long galus is compared to the cries of a woman in labor. I described the well-known concept that just as the excruciating pain of childbirth ends with the ultimate joy of the birth of a child, so too our pain and tears on Tisha B’Av culminate in the birth of mashiach. I explained further how we are taught that mashiach is actually born on the afternoon of Tisha B’Av. As I added this point, my son glanced up at me with deep brown, watery eyes. He appeared somewhat hurt or confused. I thought that perhaps the idea of mashiach being born on Tisha B’Av was too foreign for him to comprehend or that maybe I had somehow frightened him. He looked like a wounded bird, suddenly unable to soar. He stammered, with a crack in his voice, “Abba, does that mean I can’t be mashiach?”

How do you react to a question like that? No parenting book I have ever read had equipped me for such a question. Having been born in the dead of winter, Aryeh had just heard for the very first time something that hinted at the possibility that he can’t be mashiach. I tried to recover by stating that maybe this teaching doesn’t mean that the mashiach is physically born on Tisha B’Av but that he reveals himself to us on Tisha B’Av. I’m not quite sure if he bought that explanation but I sure was glad that the time for maariv had arrived.

By the time we laughingly puddle-hopped home and Aryeh had changed out of his drenched clothes, he probably had forgotten about his question. I, of course, could not. I shared the discussion with my wife, oldest daughter and my in-laws over our break-fast meal. I mentioned that sometimes we need a child to remind us of the things that we so easily forget. Sometimes we need a child to remind us that we, each and everyone of us, have tremendous potential. That we can be and that we are great. In a day and age when we often find it hard to believe that mashiach can come during our lifetimes, we need a child who truly believes that he himself can actually be mashiach. And perhaps we need such a child and such a question to remind us how careful we must be with the hopes, dreams and aspirations of our children.

That motzei Tisha B’Av, as I momentarily excused myself from the table, I quipped to my family, “I’m going to tuck in the mashiach.” As my son was laying down on the top bunk, we were pretty much eye to eye. He rapidly surrendered to slumber and I exercised the parental prerogative of watching a child peacefully sleep. I lingered a little longer than usual laughing to myself at the notion that I could make Tisha B’Av a little more relevant to him. Boy, did he turn the tables on me.

In the very last passage of Navi (the prophets), the prophet Malachi tells us that just before mashiach comes, Eliyahu haNavi will “return the hearts of the fathers through the hearts of the sons” –the sons will be the ones to teach the fathers. Mission accomplished.

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