Thursday, March 31, 2011

Lightening the Work Load

Kitzur Likutei Moharan 56:9: When a person thinks only about Torah, and when he breaks his desire for money, his livelihoodwill thereby come to him easily.

Courtesy of A Simple Jew.

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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Todays Coffee Break - Torah from Starbucks

I was just reading this interesting interview of Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks. I found the following quote fascinating as I aspire to be a leader in the business world:
"It’s so vitally important to give people hope, to provide aspirations and a vision for the future."
While this might seem obvious I often find for me, and specially the goyim I work with a complete lack of vision. Our focus on this blog is the "vision" from a Torah perspective. Without this there is nothing. I was thinking though how this applies to me as a leader in my company and the business world. I have the ability to provide a "vision". What happens if my vision I am giving over is Torah values and a way for people to live according to Torah values?

This for me is truly inspiring and perhaps a insight to bring more meaning to our daily life.

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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Reflections from recent travels

I have been traveling a lot recently (for work) and it has kept me completely out of my schedule. Davening, eating, sleeping, and learning. You name it and it was all just off. I was flying back on Ta'anis Esther and starting thinking of what did I learn from all this? Here are some ramblings:

Just remember yidden are everywhere - In downtown San Fran and a homeless man in front of Starbucks yells out "Shalom Brotha". I look over my shoulder. Ask where is best to get a cab. He helps me and I give me a $1 ask if he is Jewish and walk away with a lesson for the day. Holy neshama's are everywhere. We don't know their purpose but they are yidden and our family.

Just be respectful - I had to daven on the plane one morning. My friend sent me an email that morning that the same airline called the FBI when frum men davened on the plane. So I walked up to the flight attendants and told them "I need to pray...". I do my thing and before we are suppose to land they all came over to me saying thank you for being so respectful to us. Lets just not forgot a first impression always counts.

While I would have rather been at home with my family, learning in my chabura, and eating my wife's delicious lunches, my travels provided me with a many learnings I could not have grasped from sitting in my daled amos.

We (well I'll speak for myself) often get rapped up in complexity. Keep life simple as the simplest things are more often the most important.

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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Tales From the Zohar Part 5 - Guest Post by Rabbi Yaakov Feldman

I am proud to present the newest installment in the series of artices by Rabbi Yaakov Feldman on stories and insights from the Zohar. You can find the prior articles here. Enjoy!
The Book of Radiance: Tales from the Zohar
By Rabbi Yaakov Feldman

Few things stun as much as the catch of quick light out of the blue. Given that, just imagine the sight of a gloomy crowd of wicked blind people -- foolish souls who can’t see, yet who manage to strike out at others in the dark, to steal their jewels in the night, or to panic children in the shadows. And imagine turning a light on them suddenly that’s so strong that not only are their victims saved but the wicked blind themselves are able to see their own wickedness. How stunning would that light be!
Imagine then the moments before light itself was created by G-d with the simple command, “Let there be light!” (Genesis 1:3). For, all there was then was utterly dark, frigid cold, and unreadable nothingness suddenly lit up from out of nowhere.

In fact we’re told that before "stretching out the heavens like a curtain," G-d "wrapped Himself in light like a garment" (Psalms 104:2) and the radiance of His glory then illuminated the world from one end to the other (Breishit Rabbah 3). We’re likewise taught that it’s as a consequence of the act of wrapping Himself in that light that G-d became invisible to us (see Megilah 19b).

There’s much to say about G-d’s invisibleness, which is the single greatest deterrent to our belief in Him, to be sure, though it’s rarely mentioned. But the fact that His invisibleness is caused by His being over-covered by Light is captivating! It implies for one thing that were He not over-covered with it, we’d be able to see Him indeed.

One thing we can derive from that fact, of course, is that we’d do well to sit in the dark from time to time ourselves, with our eyes closed shut and our hearts stilled, in order to “catch sight” of Him!

Shut out that light, in other words, listen closely to the dark stillness, and allow G-d in. For not only does He dwell in the heart and minds of those fortunate souls who know Him by catching sight of the great light that surrounds Him and by surmising His own presence within it, He likewise dwells in the poor and wretched souls who sit in the dark but who “see” Him there, too. For in truth “the whole world is full of His Glory” (Isaiah 6:13) as He suffuses and surrounds all worlds ( Zohar III, 225a).

In any event, the Zohar refers to that light as the “Primal Light” (Zohar 1, 31b). And we’re taught that “one could see with it from one end of the world to the other” (Chagigah 12a), though this unearthly light only “shone in full splendor until Adam sinned” at which point G-d withdrew it from the world (Breishit Rabbah 12).

So, let’s see what else the Zohar offers there about this Primal Light. We learn (Zohar 1, 31b) that G-d had shined it upon Moshe when he was a baby, when “his mother hid him for the first three months of his life”; but that many years later “G-d took it away from him when he appeared before Pharaoh” so that the latter wouldn’t benefit from being exposed to it; and that “He gave it back to Moshe when he stood at Mount Sinai to receive the Torah” so the Primal Light and the Light of Torah could finally be rejoined.

And we’re told that Moshe enjoyed that Primal Light from then on to the end of his life, thanks to which he was able to see “the (whole) Land of Israel from Gilead to Dan” which he couldn’t do otherwise. That suggests of course that the land of Israel is available on some subtle discreet levels to anyone wherever he or she stands, when that person derives his inspiration from G-d’s own Light.

Elsewhere, though, the Zohar speaks about light in “another light”, so to speak (Zohar Chadash, Breishit 15 b-d). It offers there that the light of the sun is actually derived from the Primordial Light we referred to above, which it terms Aspaklariah D’Liayla -- the great “Speculum Above”.
“Don’t be surprised by this fact,” it offers, because a lot of things down below derive from sources up above, for which it gives examples.
After all, “when a master teaches Torah, he first divulges it to his translator” (see below), who then passes the teaching on “to those close to him”, who then likewise pass it along to others down the line until the entire auditorium gets to hear the master’s words. Thus we find that when all is said and done, “everything depends on the master” who revealed the Torah’s teaching in the first place, even though the rest heard it from others’ lips.

First of all, the “translator” referred to could also be termed a “reciter”, as our rabbis taught Torah in auditoriums that were too large to carry their voices all the way through, so their messages were passed along from one “reciter” to another, so on down the line, so everyone could benefit from his wisdom. The point of the matter is that like the sun which draws its light from up above, you and I derive the Torah we live by from a loftier source -- one great master or another. But it goes deeper yet.

It’s likewise true that while “Moshe was shone upon by G-d’s Glory” itself because he was so close to G-d, “Joshua was ‘shone upon’ by Moshe”, the “elders were ‘shone upon’ by Joshua”, the “prophets were ‘shone upon’ by the elders”, and the tribal “chiefs and leaders were ‘shone upon’ by the prophets” offers the Zohar (see Pirkei Avot 1:1). That’s to say that the Torah that the master whom we depend upon for our sustenance draws its light from the earlier masters all the way back to Moshe, who drew upon G-d’s own Glory for his revelations.

Returning to the idea that the sun derives its light from the great “Speculum Above”, Rabbi Elazar says in our Zohar that the sun only receives “a single thread of splendor”, despite its apparent radiance; and he volunteers that the sun’s light is a mere 1/60,075 th’s of the Speculum’s own light -- which is a far, far dimmer light than the 1/100 th’s depicted in Midrash Tachuma (Beha'alotecha) to be sure!

The point of the matter is as follows. Whatever light you and I may exhibit in this life and whatever wisdom we may have is wholly derivative without exception. Nothing we do, think, or say that seems to radiate or to be splendid is our own. All of our assumed originality comes down to our pinching something off the edges of something or another we’d already learned, and adding a dollop or two of something we’d learned elsewhere to it, or the like.

Or better yet, it comes to our turning full-face toward our source and acknowledging it, and simply expressing its own brilliance to some “lesser lights” than ourselves in our own terms without actually adding a thing.
For such is the human condition: while we know precious little on our own, we can and often do derive the insights of others who know more than we, but who themselves in fact derive their insights from sources who knew far more than they. As such at bottom let it be said that everything ever known, said, or proposed is a reflection of G-d’s own “Speculum Above” which is its ultimate source.

The sooner we take that to heart, the wiser we’ll be, in fact. For, as a sage once put it, “The greatest knowledge is the realization that we know nothing in fact”.

© 2011 Rabbi Yaakov Feldman
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Friday, March 18, 2011

The Key to Happiness - From Rav Itchie Mayer Morgenstern

Rav Weinberger went over a piece from Rav Itchie Mayer Morgenstern this morning from De'ei Chochma L'Nafshecha 5765 on Parshas Mishpatim.

The bottom line of the piece was that the thing that will bring a person simchas hachaim is learning Torah with two conditions: (1) It must be with kvius, regularity, meaning that he needs to learn on time at a set time every day without batala and keeping on moving and not letting himself get stuck/discouraged on something he doesn't understand and (2) learning with tefilla; meaning to take a minute before learning and maybe a bit once in the middle, to daven that his learning should give nachas ruach to Hashem, that he should understand, and that the Torah should make him closer to Hashem and that he should take that Torah to heart.

Learning Torah with kvius and tefilla, Rav Itchie Mayer said, will surely bring a person simcha in life.
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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Questioning Assumptions About "Anti-Academic" and "Anti-Intellectual" Judaism

A tremendous talmid chacham, the Rebbetzin's Husband (who shall, for reasons best known to himself, be hereinafter referred to as "the Torch."), wrote a post with a very interesting theory about the the recent meteoric rise of the "anti-intellectual" and "anti-academic" likes of Chabad, Breslov, and Rav Amnon Yitzchak. Among other explanations, he theorized that we may be attracted to such movements and rabbis today because we feel that we cannot compete with the academics and intellectuals on their playing field. We therefore look to the mystical and spiritual so that we will not feel we have to compete with the academics on their "turf."

The highly intellectual Alter Rebbe explained in the fourth perek of Tanya that the only way to attach oneself to Hashem, which is the purpose of life, is through actually and halachically fulfilling the mitzvos and learning Torah. No amount of emotion, dancing, shukeling, singing, guitar-playing, love, or prayer can create an attachment between a finite human being and the infinite G-d by itself. The only thing that can bridge the gap is something which is also infinite. The Torah (and the mitzvos which mean carrying out of the words of the Torah) and Hashem are one, according to the Zohar. By learning Torah and doing mitzvos, one is therefore connecting himself to the Infinite G-d.

While one is rewarded for fulfilling the mitzvos and studying Torah without emotion, dancing, prayer, excitement, or love, this is not the ultimate goal. In order to truly connect to Hashem, one must learn the Torah and do its mitzvos with love and awe of G-d.

If the people in the video here, and all of the Chabadniks and Breslovers out there keep halacha and learn Torah, then their avodah is much higher than the cold, intellectual buildings in the sky constructed by orthodox academics.

The Torch, in the comments, commented that the quotes from A Simple Jew's post on How to Be a Breslover Chassid proved that Breslov is anti-academic because "[s]tudy of the teachings is geared toward learning practical lessons," presumably as opposed to the preferable study of Rebbe Nachman for the sake of intellectually understanding his philosophy.

I happen to know that the Torch personally is not a cold intellectual at all (in the perjorative sense - He is a genius, a masmid, a tremendous talmid chacham, and a warm and caring Jew). Lulei d'mistefina, I would say that I am perplexed that he would write as if passionate halachic Judaism were not preferable to academic-style Judaism.
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Circling the Walls of Jerusalem on Rosh Chodesh Adar - Anti-Intellectual Judaism?

I wanted to post this video as a tribute to "anti-intellectual Judaism."

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Sunday, March 13, 2011

Frum Dinner Theatre on Tuesday in Jerusalem! (Discount Code in Post Text)

Interesting story about the couple whose picture appears below. I posted a link to an article about them HERE a little over a year ago.

A few months later, I was in Shul in Aish Kodesh in Woodmere one night and saw a kollel yungerman there who looked familiar. I realized he was the guy from the picture below! We spoke and that Shabbos we had them for Shalosh Sheudos which was very nice. You can read more about their background at here.

I did not realize their interest in theatre at the time (I also did my share of high school, and then community theatre until I became frum), but they started a religious dinner theatre in Yerushalayim. You can see their website for the show HERE, you can buy tickets HERE (use discount code "HALFPRICE" to get the tickets at half price, and you can read a review of their first show on Arutz Sheva HERE.

Say hi to Yerachmiel for me if you go to the show!

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Friday, March 11, 2011

Imagination Versus Intellect - Not What You Think

From Rav Weinberger's Shabbos shiur this morning:

Rav Yisroel Salanter in Igeres Hamussar: "ha'adam asur b'muskalo, v'chofshi b'dimyono." "Man is imprisoned by his intellect and free in his imagination."

Rav Weinberger's explanation: A person's intellect and soul, to whom G-d's reality is blazingly obvious, one is bound ("asur") to do what is right and avoid what is wrong. To the intellect/soul, one can no more look at an inappropriate image than he could stick his hand in a fire or cut himself with a knife.

But the force of the imagination/fantasy/body makes a person feel "chofshi b'artzeinu," free to do right or do wrong. But that feeling is pure dimyon, fantasy.

"Asur b'muskalo" is why a person says he "can't" eat on Yom Kippur, and "chofshi b'dimyono" is why he feels it's not so pashut that you can't conceal income on his tax return.

IY"H may we all be zoche to attain the feeling of "I can't" when it comes to doing anything against Hashem's will!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Just remember we are in a Matrix

A long time ago I saw the original movie the Matrix. I then re-watched it while I was becoming frum years ago. I think about that movie now and again for the imagery of walking around in a Matrix. A world concealed by the ultimate truth. We so easily forget we are in this concealed world and have such hard time breaking free.

As the below contribution from Shmuel at Love is the Motive so greatly describes we need to find time to break away and remember the Truth. We are in a concealed world. While hisbodedus are not so practical at work I often try to duck out for a coffee and get fresh air, sit on a bench and reflect for five minutes when my days are hectic. It helps because from my point of view we are "remembering".

As Shmuel said in his post:

" The fact that a person even ducks out of the whirlwind that is society and says a few rushed words - it's not ideal, but it is an acknowledgement of God in the midst of chaos."
Just acknowledgement in our hectic hours of work IS allot...Do not think otherwise.

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Controlling our Secular ADD

Thank you to Dixie Yid for pointing me to a post by Mevakesh Lev today. It deals with a very important topic of distractions in our secular world. Before I got married I asked a Rav of mine if I should go back to work full time or go and learn for 1-2 years in Israel. His response was "Moshe when you can look me in the face and tell me you have used every free second you have while not working to learn Torah, then you are permitted to learn in Kollel!"

I was blown away...I walked away upset because all I wanted was validation of my hearts yearning, however this was the response from Da'as Torah! After a few days looking at my iPhone in my hand, I knew exactly what he was talking about. For me it's a daily struggle and I fight hard every day to use every precious moment I have to learn or think of Hashem.

This quote from Mevakesh Lev sums it all up for me:

"According to Rabbi Yisroel Salanter, a masmid is not just someone who sits down and learns from morning until evening. A masmid is someone who puts sixty minutes into every hour, whether it's learning, or studying! Being a masmid is someone who is able to solely focus upon what they are involved in, and is able to overcome distractions. "
May we all be zoche to recognize the value of every precious moment we have both in and out of work to learn Torah.

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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Start and Stop at Honesty

The below Rabbeinu Bechaye made me think allot about the stress I put on myself at work. While honesty and truth is very hard to live by in todays business world it is simple and elegant. By staying focused on this one yesod perhaps I can become a better eved Hashem.

Thank you to ModernUberdox for the following reference.
"Rabbeinu Bechaye says this importance of honesty brought in the first words of the Torah. Every nekuda is in the first pasuk of the Torah, except the shuruk. He explains that this is because the letters which spell the word shuruk (shin-reish-kuf)can also be rearranged to spell the word sheker (shin-kuf-reish), lying, and because sheker cannot be even hinted to in foundation of the Torah. Hashem created this world to be a place based on truth, there was no room for sheker!"

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You Know You're in a Scary Profession When...

...It's 10:30 at night and a mid-level associate asks you if you're planning to stay late.

(Caveat: I'm not complaining. I found this exchange sadly amusing, but I like the work, the firm, and the people I work with, and I thank G-d that I am blessed to have a job.)

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

New Maccabeats Purim Video - Also by Uri Westrich

The Greeks from the Chanukah video also make a cute cameo. HT Modern Uberdox.

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Net Operating Losses and Teshuvah

Net operating losses are very valuable to a business. Although it seems counter intuitive that losing money, whether on paper or in real life, could be valuable, it is a business reality that exists because of the tax code.

Those net operating losses ("NOLs") incurred one year can be used to offset income in other years as long as the business hasn't used up those NOLs yet. Because the Internal Revenue Code ("IRC") allows a business to "carry forward" those NOLs for a number of subsequent years, the NOLs can save a company a lot of money over time.

Azoi shtait in the IRC that this heter to carry forward NOLs only exists if the company's stock or creditors don't change hands too much, which would constitute a "management change."

A bankrupt entity, which understandably usually has significant NOLs, guards its NOLs carefully by moving to enter a "NOL Trading Motion" to prohibit or limit shareholders' and creditors' ability to trade in their claims or interests, lest such trades cause a "management change," thus endangering the tax benefits of those precious losses.

I was thinking that this concept shows that even the world is aware of the concept that past losses can benefit a person. We know this is true spiritually because the gemara in Yuma 86b says that with teshuvah me'ahava, the highest level of transformative teshuvah, zadonos, willful sins (like net operating losses a person lives with) are transformed into zechuyos, merits.

At first glance, losses do not seem to be valuable on a physical or spiritual level. It's something one just wants to put in the past. But by continuing to do teshuva for past sins, out of a feeling of wanting to be closer to Hashem, those losses turn into gains.

Similarly, although it is counter intuitive, even the world has the external concept of the benefits of past losses, which perhaps reflects the inner reality of "zadonos na'asin lo k'zachios."

Have a happy Adar! May all of our zadonos undergo a "v'nafoch hu!"

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Monday, March 7, 2011

Big Problem Starbucks Kashrus - Better Not to Drink in the Stores (Updated)

Please see this one page summary of kashrus issues at Starbucks put out by the CRC, the Chicago Rabbinical Counsel, an excellent and not unnecessarily strict kashrus agency, the Av Beis Din of which I have had contact with in the past. HT to Chana at The Curious Jew for bringing this to my attention in her post "Starbucks Isn't Really So Kosher."

As someone in the business world, this is a very relevant sha'ala. This notice could not have come too soon. I have not had any Starbucks coffee since the holy Mrs. Yid elevated our family by encouraging us to start keeping cholov Yisroel, but I was just thinking this morning that I was going to invite a friend at work to coffee at Starbucks soon and just use a Gefen non-dairy creamer packet. Yikes!

It looks like even the plain brewed coffee in the regular Starbucks stores is only kosher b'dieved because the "[b]rew basket may have been washed with non-kosher items. Although the brew basket is only used as a kli sheni, the cRc recommends purchasing items which are free of all shailos." This problem does not exist with the kiosks, so it's okay to order plain coffee there. Check out the one page summary from the CRC for a short table (click on the image on the below to enlarge that part of the one page sheet) showing which products can be bought at which types of Starbucks stores. The chart is only good till 7/31/2011 according to the CRC.

(UPDATE 3/8/11: Apparantly the OU holds differently. See Chaviva's post here for their much more lenient approach.)

Incidently, a cute dialog in our house yesterday between me, Mrs. Yid, and our 6th grade Dixie Daughter related to recently starting to keep cholov Yisroel:
Dixie Daughter: I'm not sure what to tell people when they ask why we started keeping cholov Yisroel. What can I tell them?

Tell them it's because we are trying to become closer to Hashem.

Dixie Daughter: I know, but...(not looking convinced)

I think she wants to know something that's just easy to say, that won't start a whole discussion.

Okay, how about saying that we're trying to become more "chassidish..."

Dixie Daughter: WHAT??!! (unexpected news apparantly)

What if you just tell them we're trying to take on the minhagim of our Rav, Rabbi Weinberger, and that's the reason.

Dixie Daughter: Okay.
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Tanya on Fear/Embarrassment - "And They Saw 'Ki Boshesh Moshe'"

In Rav Weinberger's Tanya shiur this morning, we were learning the section in the 4th perek where the Alter Rebbe discusses the higher level of Yiras Hashem called "yiras boshes," the fear relating to embarrassment or shame. This is in contrast to the lower level of fear (though halevai we should attain it) called yiras ha'onesh, fear of punishment.

Yiras Boshes is the contemplation and recognition of Hashem's greatness and the concomitant feeling of smallness and nothingness, along with a feeling of embarrassment and shame because of a person's actions which have concealed that greatness and strengthened the forces if impurity in the world.

When healthy, this feeling will lead to a desire to come back to Hashem, and not to hide away and stay distant because of the shame. This is why, Rav Weinberger explained, the word "busha," embarrassment, has the same letters as ther word "shuva," to return.

I asked him after the shiur if this aspect of busha is related to the pasuk in Ki Sisa that the Jews saw "ki boshesh Moshe," that Moshe was delayed. The word for delayed there has the same shoresh as the word for embarrassment. He explained that the underlying shoresh means "distance." So distance in time is "delay" and distance in relationships is "shame."

I was thinking that perhaps the Torah uses the word "boshesh" rather than any other word for delay to illustrate the bad side of busha, shame. The Jews at that time went after the wrong side of busha. That feeling of shame/distance can lead to two opposite reactions. It can make a person want to come back closer, or it can make the person run away further. The Jews, by the chet ha'egel, the sin of the golden calf, reacted to the feeling of distance personified by Moshe's perceived delay in coming down from Har Sinai by running away from Hashem and building the egel. The Torah, therefore, used the word "boshesh" here, instead of "hismame'ah" or something else, to teach "how not" to react to the feeling of busha.

IY"H, may we all be zoche to attain an awareness of Hashem such that we will feel busha and return to Hashem before we even think of doing anything against His will.

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Sunday, March 6, 2011

Inspiring High Quality Videos About Israel

With thanks to Dixie Dad for sending me this video, here is a great video called "Start Up Nation" about Israel's innovative economy:

Here is another great video about a commander and how Israel deals with fighting an enemy who hides among women and children:

Here is an interview with the author of "Start Up Nation" talking about the progressive deregulation economic policies:

Fascinating statistics about the the worldly effects of the infinite and hungry Jewish soul:

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Thursday, March 3, 2011

All Masked Up

Thank you to a Simple Jew for providing this great source today...Yasher Koach.
Likutey Tefillos #13:

"There is no work or business activity in the world that does not contain Torah, even if it is heavily veiled."
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Dixie Yid is Back to the Old Layout - Thanks for Responding

It looks like about 75% of respondants agree that they like the old single sidebar look better. It has been changed back (though the style is still slightly different).

Thank you to those who took the time to respond.

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Hisbodedus Documentary - Very Inspiring - Embeded Video

Here is a five part video documentary on hisbodedus, what seems to me to be the number one aspect of success in keeping one's head in olam habah, even while he is steeped in olam hazeh. Big thank you to Yossi Katz at the blog for posting this. Very inspiring.

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Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Dixie Yid is Now Optimized for Mobile Viewing

Thanks to Neil Harris's suggestion, the blog is now optimized for mobile viewing!

... not that you should even have a Blackberry... or an iPhone... or an Android...

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Who is a Ben Olam Habah?

I was thinking about the gemara quoted in this post, where Eliyahu Hanavi says that no one in the (presumably Jewish) market that day was a "ben olam habah" except for a warden and a jester who did their work for the sake of Hashem. Although it was not the immediate point of the gemara, there is a glaring kasha on what Eliyahu Hanavi said: How can it be than almost no one in the whole shuk was a "ben olam habah"? Doesn't the mishna in Avos say that "kol Yisroel yesh lahem chelek l'olam habah," that every single Jew has a share in the world to come?

(And I don't think you can answer that the Gemara in Sanhedrin lists a number of exceptions to the general rule because: (a) it's shver to be mokim the gemara that everyone in the shuk were the worst of the worst, baalei lashon hara, apikursim, and mevazei talmidei chachamim and (b) there's a shita in the gemara there that the dorshei reshumos learn that ona deeper level, even the Yidden she'ein lahem chelek l'olam habah really do have a chelek.)

I think the answer lies in the phrase "ben olam habah." It could have referred to "people with a chelek in olam habah." Instead, Eliyahu referred to "bnei" olam habah," implying people who are "in the category of olam habah." Meaning: a ben olam habah is someone who lives in olam habah even in this world. What does this mean? In olam habah, "kol ha'aretz deiah es Hashem," the whole world and all aspects of physicality ("artzius") will know Hashem. Someone who lives in olam habah now knows that connecting to Hashem and doing the ratzon Hashem is the purpose of life in the world, and they don't get confused by the upside down priorities of the physical world ("olam hafuch ra'isi"), although he is indeed living in this world.

That's why a talmid chochom is called "Shabbos." Shabbos is "me'ein olam habah," an aspect of the world to come, and the Tzadik is called Shabbos because he lives with the knowlwdge of Hashem that will exist in the world to come, even in this world. Such people are indeed in the category of a "ben olam habah."

That's why so few people in the marketplace were bnei olam habah. Most of us get lost in the details of olam hazeh. We may have a share in olam hazeh and may, IY"H, be fulfilling basic halacha, but we are not mentally living with olam habah while we go about our business. We're living in the world of bechira and not yediah.

IY"H we should be zocheh to be bnei olam habah, living with olam habah even as we live, for the moment, in olam hazeh.

(Full disclosure: It could be I heard or learned this idea somewhere before, but I don't remember.)

Picture courtesy of

Avodas Ha'Avodah - Introduction and a Brief Background

I have to thank Dixie Yid for introducing me and the blog's new focus, as well as for inviting me to be a co-author on the blog.

Many of you might have noticed the blog's new focus: Avodas Ha'Avoda. This refers to how a person is oved Hashem, serves Hashem, through his avodah, working for his livelihood.

The idea came out of a "chance" meeting between myself and Dixie Yid on the way into work recently. For certain reasons, I have been recently struggling with the whole experience of working. I just couldn't mentally deal with the fact that I was working very hard to provide for my family, but at the end of the day, I was still just yearning to be able to sit and learn. I sat in the office crying out to Hashem, asking him to let me sit in the Beis Medrash. Why couldn't it be me? I love Torah, I love learning, and I love being an eved Hashem. Simply speaking, work was bringing me down.

I ebbed and flowed. I would find sources of inspiration in my learning, but nothing stuck with me.

About a month ago, I started to read The Dimension Beyond by Rabbi Yisrael Lorberbaum. It started to fundamentally change me in ways no other sefer has. I hope some day I have the opportunity to meet R' Lorberbaum. In the middle of learning this sefer, I spoke with an old friend from up north about my work challenges. The next day he forwarded me an article, which I shared with Dixie Yid which is posted here. This article truly changed me... It just connected to it in away nothing else I have read has. One line which particularly struck me were these simple words "In truth, if there exists a profession in the world, since it was created with God's will, it must be used as a tool to accomplish God's will." Those words made the connection in my neshama. I felt as if Hashem sent me a gift...

Fast forward to this past Erev Shabbos... I was sitting in my home office and thinking about the fact that there is so much Torah relating to work. There is so much available which can provide chizuk. There is a lot of Torah which can truly inspire and change so many of us who are struggling to find meaning and inspiration in our "9-5".

I emailed my friend, Dixie Yid, asking his thoughts on working towards the following lofty goal with me: I want to set out to collect as many non-halachic Torah sources which provide inspiration and mussar for Avodas Ha'Avodah. I told him that I wanted to collate all of this and publish a sefer, donating all the proceeds to tzedakah. Even just in my small world, there are so many men grappling with Avodas Ha'Avodah. Think of the change we could make in this work, in Klal Yisrael, in Families....

Dixie Yid thought it was a great idea and graciously decided to change the focus of his blog. But why? Simple, we NEED YOUR HELP! With my help, we will find and post relevant articles based on mussar, early meforshim, machshavah, and chassidus, but we need all of you to send us sources! Please leave them as comments or send them by e-mail to either myself or Dixie Yid. Our e-mail addresses are on the right sidebar. As we receive them, we post and catalogue them for the blog With Hashem's help, we will publish them in a sefer and im yirtzeh Hashem, it will help bring Moshiach one step closer!

With sincere feelings of hakoras hatov to Dixie Yid and the current readers, I hope you are inspired as much as I am to what I deem as a truly worthy endevour to help be michazik Klal Yisrael to be mikadish their Avodas Ha'Avodah.

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Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Poll on New Template/Layout - Please Respond

As mentioned, the Dixie Yid blog has a new focus and a new style. I don't want the new style/layout to be distracting or less user friendly. Therefore, I ask you to please answer the poll over on the right sidebar. Please leave any other suggestions as a comment. Thank you!!

Update (3/2/11): Thanks to Neil Harris's suggestion, the blog is now optimized for mobile viewing.

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The Dixie Yid Blog's New Focus

This blog is going through an inner change. The new template and layout are meant to be an outer expression of that change. If you have visited the blog off of an RSS reader recently, you will have also noticed the new byline, "Avodas Ha'avodah." I use that phrase to refer to the particular form of avodas Hashem through one's hishtadlus for his livelihood.

As readers know, I have been posting much much less in the last year or so. My final semester of law school, the Bar Exam, a sefer I have been working on translating, and the job that I started in September, as well as my obligations to my family, have made me very busy.

Many of the very few substantive posts that I have put up recently related to my struggle to grow spiritually in an intense work environment. This is a big challenge, but the attempt to balance the requirements of olam hazeh with those of olam haboh is nothing new. It tracks the general war and balancing act we all face while living in this world (which struggle is the very purpose of the world). Because this is such a universal subject, there is a lot of Torah out there on, or relating to, this topic. (Check out this story, if you started reading Dixie Yid after 2007; a very yesodosdik story.)

My friend Marc Rossen, who shared this article with me, is also wrestling with this inyan, and in talking with him, we decided that it would benefit us and the rest of the Jewish people to focus this blog's attention on Torah and stories which would help us and others learn how to navigate this difficult balance.

I therefore asked Marc to join me as an author on this blog, so welcome Marc! Hopefully he and y'all can get the chance to know each other over the coming months. :-)

The truth is that this topic is needed for many people, even those in klei kodesh. Unless one can truthfully say about himself that "Toraso umanuso," he needs to work on this area as well.

Therefore, please stay tuned to the new focus. We will still have other interesting, funning, or share-worthy things to put up, but the main focus will be "Avodas Ha'Avodah."

IY"H, may we be zoche to connect to Hashem through whatever our chelek in life is! Stay tuned for an introductory post by Marc. Kol tuv!

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