Thursday, September 28, 2006

Old Skeletons

Here it is, Yom Kippur eve (almost), and I find myself unrepentant. It's strange - I've had relatively a great year - I had a daily chavrusa, good kavana in davening, and fought my worst Yetzer Hora aggressively with a lot of success. So I should feel accomplished and confident as I approach the day of judgment, no?

So why do I feel so empty? Why did Rosh Hashana davening feel nearly useless? I don't know when the last time was that I felt like merely a spectator in shul. I actually felt like just sitting in shul, ignoring the Tefilos. But sucker me stood the entire time in place anyway. And yes, "fake it 'till you make it" did work to some extent. A mussar shmooze later, and I was slightly restored.

But there is still a lot missing. Will this anti-spiritual beginning bode poorly for the upcoming year? Will I make it through Yom Kippur? Will the growth of this past year be reversed?

When will I be back in Eretz Yisroel?

Thursday, September 21, 2006

A Pickle

I'm in a tough spot. I finally have some time to write, and a list of topics. But it's Erev Rosh Hashanah. I don't feel like it's the right time for a little rant; I'd rather be more introspective. I apologize for withdrawing a bit over the last few months. Hopefully, you forgive me.

As we begin a new year, I'd like to think that I really am facing a new beginning. I'm starting fresh, in a new city. And contrary to my harsh condemnations to date, I really think I might have judged too quickly. (I have a full plate of Yom Tov invitations here!) In that same spirit, I'd like to ask you if there is anything I require forgiveness for. Even better, if you have any suggestions for how I could improve in this coming year, leave those in the comments. I'm curious as to what you think.

I want to wish each and every one of you, both old friends and new, those that I see frequently and those readers I don't even know about, a year filled with the pure sweetness that comes from making the most of our potential, a year of seeing the Answer to our prayers. Next year in Jerusalem. I'll keep blogging from there.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

What is Frum?

People have asked me how I ended up in West Orange. What is a a bearded guy doing in such a modern community...Shouldn't I be in a frummer environment...

Does frum mean homogeneous?

Does frum mean hours of people learning...number of people in davening...signs in and white on the streets...

Or does frum mean that I am building the best relationship with Gd for me at this time?

Sure, we have a concept of not living in a wicked society, but do we fear that our neighbors that wear t-shirts and have secular newspapers delivered are intrinsically evil? We may think that it isn't the best path for our growth, but isn't their place in the world up to them? Are we only frum if we are surrounded by like minded ideologies? It may be for some, and those that it appeals to should choose it. (Like the Amish - right, BlogBlond?) But do I have to commute from Monsey or Brooklyn to be frum?

Honestly, I'm not a major fan of West Orange...only yesterday (after 5 weeks) did somebody actually come over and introduce themself. But at least here I don't have to pretend to be somebody I'm not.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Free Tickets to the Gun Show

I like to think I'm a pretty Tznius guy. I don't wear skirts, but that's probably a good thing. I think the concept of recognizing our modest place in the world is prominent to a Jewish lifestyle. I'm the kind of guy who doesn't leave my house without a jacket on. I also feel bad about driving a "flashy" car. OK, so I may not be so modest on this blog, but in general I try and walk humbly before Gd.

So it was with embarassing irony that I got nailed this Shabbos in a moment of laziness. I was staying in an apartment in Washington Heights, but I slept with another friend one floor directly above. After getting ready for bed, I decided that I wanted to grab an extra blanket from my suitcase in the apartment below. I was already in my pajamas, but it was after 1 am, so I figured I wouldn't run into anybody on the way down. Both apartments were right on the staircase, so I figured even if anyone went inot the hall, I could duck back into the apartment before anyone saw me.

But Tznius isn't about being seen by people, but living in front of Gd. So the time of night really had nothing to do with it. But I was lazy. I slid down the stairs, and all was quiet. I slipped into the other apartment, secure in arriving at my halfway point unseen. I closed the door to the apartment, and turned to get my suitcase, only to find myself face-to-face with with two girls and a guy, who were sitting in the living room talking.

They weren't there when I left the apartment half-an-hour ago. But I knew two of the three, and hadn't spoken to them in awhile. So I found myself catching up with old (fully dressed) friends while I tried to look casual in my underdressed atire. I was hardly naked by most standards, but for a guy who always has his belt lined up with his shirt buttons, I certainly felt exposed.

Today's lesson - always remember that there is an Eye watching.

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