Monday, October 30, 2006

Packing My Bags

Speeding forth, glancing back - a picture I took two months ago.

[Wednesday, November 1st - Yud Cheshvan]

So I am leaving Philadelphia.

My roommate got engaged and a spiral of emotions and events have led to my decision to leave Philadelphia and journey forth.

Over the past two months, behind the scenes of this blog, much has been going on.

A lot has changed within, in terms of knowing my capabilities, planning my future, and getting closer to my real Shlichus, my true mission in life.

G-d has been very close throughout this decision. So many signs and opportunities and people made it clear to me exactly where I need to be. I feel unbelievably blessed.

Tonight, I opened to a letter from the Rebbe that said, "When a Jew resolves to do good, the One Above immediately opens for him additional channels if necessary, to accomplish it even better than expected."

I am ready.

Ending this chapter comes with much introspection, new resolutions, a fresh sort of faith, and a healthy dose of fear.

I make my move to Crown Heights tomorrow, where a Madricha position and amazing part time job await me. I am thrilled, and constantly smiling and marveling at how this is all shaping.

"Aint no one gonna break my stride, aint no one that could hold me down - oh no..."

I will not stop moving.


Everything in the universe works in a chain of cause and effect. At the beginning of every chain lies a decision, a free choice for which there is no cause, nothing that forced it to be that way.

Whatever comes out of that chain will come back to the one who initiated it.

At the beginning of each chain and at the end, there lies purpose.

- Attributed to the Previous Rebbe

[ From Tzvi Freeman's "Book of Purpose"]

Saturday, October 28, 2006

A Yid

In front of thousands - before one G-d.

The following clip makes me, ahhh, happy. Just happy.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Conversation #4: Only one path

We’re somewhere in Crown Heights, just talking.

My friend is experiencing some qualms about her living situation.

She says: I need to be around people who are on the same derech (path) as me.

Her wording caught me offgaurd and I say: Same derech? All Jews are on the same derech.

She thinks I'm just being poetic and replied: Eh…not really.

For me, this is an essential and practical thing.

I say: Yea, that’s what being a Jew is. Our whole nation, we’re all on the same derech.

She sees what I mean underneath, but her experiences keep her from being convinced.

I say: We’ve just all been given different cars. But we’re all going to the same place, driving on the same road. Really.

She says: I guess so.


The conversation was quick, fleeting. But it left me thinking.

I don’t sit well with the idea of Jews being on different paths.

When I think of the essence, sparks, redemption, G-dliness, our often unrevealed wants - I really do feel we’re all on the same road.

But then we look outside, see differences, an array of styles and habits, struggles and hopes and dreams.

But so what?

Why can’t we all just be around each other and not care about the car we’re driving?

Maimonides says that friends are two people headed in the same direction. So, sure, it’s hard to be around people who are going somewhere else. How can you be one if you’re not going in the same place? Yea, I get that. And so, the thing with Jews is that we’re all headed in the same place. Buried underneath every Jew is the same map. I strongly believe that. I’ve seen it. I can’t think otherwise, for it just doesn’t make sense.

Even those Jews who want to be on a different path are still on the same path as every other Jew. It’s unavoidable. If two Jews can be “on different derechs,” then how can we call ourselves a nation?

I believe that Jews are a nation, a family – we have oneness.

This world owns one real path.

I don’t’ care what my friends are driving.

Ultimately, we’re all in the same traffic.


I guess I’ve just never thought about other Jews being on any other path but, you know, the Jewish one.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Vus Machs Du, Eric Cosby?

Whaddup, yo?

Eric Cosby is a 6"4, humorous African American with dreadlocks and
very smooth skills in the sales department.

A transaction the other day led to our meeting.

He reached out to shake my hand, and I gently refused and told him,
"I'm Jewish, and very careful with touch."

Eric was like, "yo, that's cool, that's cool."

I jokingly responded, "I know, isn't it? You should try it."

He laughed and said, "Nah, I don't touch a lot of people anyways. I
use a lot of hand sanitizer."

It was my turn to laugh, but wanted to make sure he didn't get the wrong idea.

"Judaism believes that touch is a very sacred thing."

"Aha, yeeeea," He nodded his head slowly, " I dig that, I dig that."

And then, of course, Eric makes the association and asks, "So, do you
like Matisyahu?"

"Of course, are you a fan?"

"Oh yea, I love Reggae as you can see (he points to his dreadlocks). I
love that does it go...Jerusalem, if I fogeeet yoooou...."

And before I know it, I am being serenaded.

"Jerusalem, if I forget yoooouuuuu, fire's just not going to come..."

Okay, so he didn't have the exact lyrics down, but the enthusiastic
hand motions made up for it.

"Oh, and that other one, how does it, something like, young guy..."

After deciding to help him out a little, he starts singing again.

"Yooooung maaan, control it in your hands, slam your fist on the table..."

And he is, well, slamming his fist on the table.

"Yea, man" he tells me shaking his head, "I'm all about that."

I'm grinning from ear to ear. This guy is my new favorite 6"4 African
American with dreadlocks.

And he's not over.

"So, like, I'm trying to think of something Jewish to say to
you...what's that word? Loochem?"

"Hmm, Loochem?" I'm racking my mind, but, as Jewish as the word
sounds, it's not actually a hebrew word.

After Mr. Cosby demands to know a good Jewish greeting, "Shalom" slips
out quickly but then I tell him, if he wants to be extra cool, he can
use Yiddish and say "Vus machs du?"

After a couple of tries, he's competition for anybody walking down
Eastern Parkway.

I'm racking my brain as to where he got this "loochem" word, which
very closely resembles "Lechem - bread", but why would he know that
specific word?

I mention it to him and he starts laughing.

"Yeeea, in Austin Powers, when that guy says it, he's slicing bread!"

So, there ya go.


As I'm leaving, I see him and flash a peace sign.

He waves a hand and yells across the room: "Mazel Tov! Jerusaleeem, if
I forgeeet yoooou...!"


Nothing major came out of this little happening - there's no
punchline. It's just, sometimes I feel like something very powerful
is happening during these little interactions between Jews and
non-Jews. A casual, almost silly, interaction gave me a little glimpse
into the era of redemption, and how the whole world is ready to
embrace the truth and pride in every Jew.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Crown Heights Ramble

Crown heights gets you high passing by here’s how it goes a shriek because I haven’t seen you in forever and wow isn’t it cool to see you so out of context I am just coming from nosh world and I knoooow I would also think it would be bigger since it’s called a world but I guess some really small things really are a whole world like eastern parkway here’s the way show me how do we walk through the bachurim on the corner or go up the stairs and around I don’t know show me how its done because clearly theres a way and I feel like a tourist when really we all just come here because of the Rebbe and there’s no such thing as a tourist when it comes to that its all straight to the heart for real that’s how I feel and its hard to see 770 looking a little trashed and acting like a homeless shelter and you gotta struggle to see whats behind all the business the smell the pushing and the shoving and I couldn’t even find one siddur to daven with and succos was simply amazing you go behind these brick walls to discover loving families and opinions and hopes and dreams and when it comes down to it there’s a G-dly soul and of that I am sure but is there a tall bachur for me to marry of that I do not know so I just go with the flow dressing to impress while we roam the street because it has such a beat and our feet go shuffling along and this strong wind comes and all of a sudden there’s a bunch of people holding onto their hats for dear life and life really is funny so I am looking around at these women wondering if I could raise my many children in this place when I don’t feel safe but there’s certainly something special going on in the air so I don’t care about the so-called politics they don’t really exist and her sheital wow you couldn’t get it anywhere else and running into people who are learning and I am thinking man I know I am on shlichus and doing good things but what I would give to be going from class to class being consumed with the Rebbe’s thoughts and how I miss the Rebbe oh Rebbe oh Rebbe we need you and the many cops that protect this town nod their head and badaboom I am in Judaica world which really is a world and I have the headphones bumping to ta shma a new group with a sound a bit too much like rap for me but the rachamana with matisyahu is great and I know the boy bumping to it behind me agrees and we all just move on and move on shuffling through the crowd and I ended up buying the cd because its important to support people who are on fire about Chassidus and you know how it is it seems like everyone here reads my blog and it’s pretty cool he had a grey beard and asked me if I am looking to get married and I blushed and we talked abut Tzfat and then he said goodnight an it really was a goodnight indeed laughing and staying up late and watching them all dance and dance and dance and simcha is a great thing and yiddishkeit is for real everywhere you go went into the city and saw the sukka in washington square park and it’s just the coolest thing met a woman and I told her about what the rebbe has to say about this four walled hut thing with branches on top and she thought it was so cool unlike the Jewish missionizing man I met an hour later who told me I am going to hell and I was like actually I’m just going to the Chabad house right now and wow we need moshiach but life sure is good and so is avi piamenta and his brother rocking it out on kingston and we all want moshiach so our differences disappear no matter how many moshiach pins go flashing through the air and ahhh the sight of yidden dancing feet up off the ground its just beautiful art to me and there’s so many people I didn’t get to see but I’ll back I just love how all these people are rushing around and there are mad swarms of people all because the rebbe and chabad and chassidus and we all love life and our families and each other and it’s nice to bring my laptop and have wireless on the steps of an eastern parkway apartment and also the museum is pretty nifty went to visit someone didn’t have paid entry but in the right time got to rewind and go over it all in my head many conversations come rushing to my mind and I just can’t find my vitamin water that I left outside of 770 and oh well maybe one of the Israelis will enjoy it they’re so cool saving up money for months and months to be by the rebbe wow its just the coolest unlike how all the men and boys light up their cigarettes as soon as Shabbos turns to the festival and I’m pretty tired and content and back in philly crown heights was a whirlwind of the wonderful type of chaos and lets see each other soon badabadoom yea basically that’s pretty much it just can’t sit still its bubbling underneath and it just feels right this warm sort of glow after kicking it with the flow in the heights

Some pictures I took:

Succah by 770

NYPD in action by the dancing

Boy dancing with heart

A forever swirling yellow flag

Boro Park visitors

My boot and friend's shoe against the plastered pavement

Too cool to dance

The Clouds of Glory in the park

Two Jews and G-d

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Steppin' out

A bachur steps out in New York

I have yet to hear the details.

I was Gmail chatting with my brother online today when he had to interrupt to go do something.

"Stepping out..." he said.

I asked, "“to where?"” but he was already gone. I resumed my work at the desk, typing up flyers, calling people...

My brother returned a half hour later to answer me.

"Well, turns out...I was stepping make a Bar Mitzvah. First time Teffilin for a guy I just met in the store."

So this is what happens when the Rebbe's soldiers step away from their computers.

Just like that.

A Jew steps out.

A Bar Mitzva takes place.

A Jew steps out.

A man is reconnected.

A Jew steps out.

And our nation is a little more whole.


Imagine if we all just stepped out a little more.

The Rebbe'’s lasting vision lives through us almost effortlessly sometimes.

It was just one small step for a Bachur, one giant leap for mankind.

Monday, October 02, 2006

His Smile. And I'm back.

(Due to many inquiries, and some good inspiration, I'm back to blogland)

This is not how it was supposed to be, the girl told herself.

The images, all led up this?

Her idealistic self came crashing against her reality

And for a while, she couldn't find herself

Her drive to be on fire set off alarms

Why can't I love everything I'm doing?

Why am I looking for more?

Was I real about being G-d's messenger?

But deep down the girl knows what all descents are for...

The girl went to visit the Ohel, the Rebbe's resting place

Where the Rebbe is anything but resting

On the video, the Rebbe spoke to the girl

He said, "Sometimes, it may happen, specifically when you're on G-ds
mission, you have hardships..."

He looked directly at the girl.

With deep urgency in his voice, he concluded that "the only proper
response is to do what you're doing and do it with three times more
the amount, with three times more energy!"

The rebbe reminded the girl that, "Oh, yes...this is G-d's mission."

So the girl is discovering a newfound inner strength

She's finding the happiness and energy that exists no matter what you're doing

That everyday is a gift
That G-d is everywhere

That there are sparks to lift

And there's not time to waste

She's starting to grasp the reality that you make the mission

You define your reality

You make the choice

But most of all

She's discovering tha sometimes the mission has more to do with

What you're needed for

And not what you need

So, with all this, she's coming to terms with a fear

That her deep down burning

Her true inner mission


And will not


So she's starting to run again

She's starting to write again

She's starting to feel G-d's hug

Avinu Malkenu

He is our father

And second, he is our king

But, he is our father first

The girl found that, no matter where your soul lies...

No matter how down, vulnerable, and empty...

If you still look for Him...

He responds with the greatest smile

This year's Tashlich site (e-mail me for more Tishrei pictures).