Friday, December 29, 2006

The Rebbe is on the Plane

No Stopping

Here is a splash of my feelings written from thousands of feet in the air:

I am weightless.

The cabin pressure cannot leave its mark.

Questions of my existence are flowing through the clouds as American Airlines flight 1016 makes its way to Miami.

They have no idea the Rebbe is on the plane.


Traveling for the Rebbe's mission is in a category of its own.

Everything joins the mission. The people you sit next to. The sun setting from the window of 21E. The Diet Coke.

The weightless feeling is there mocking my existence.

It's so clear who's traveling here.

When you're on the Rebbe's mission, you go places.

But it just doesn't feel like me. It doesn't feel like it is me that is going.

If it were me, I'd be a little nervous, a little anxious.

If it were me, I'd have gone to the bathroom a million times before leaving.

If it was me, I'd be checking my watch every five seconds at the gate.

If it was me, I'd be trying to sleep right now - I wouldn't be as alive and alert.

If it was me, I wouldn't have one hundred Pushkas (charity boxes) in my suitcase.

The calm inside.
The fresh mind and spirit.
The confidence and trust.

The feeling of flying - way before boarding the plane.

It's all the Rebbe.

The Rebbe's involvement in the mission he gave us extends beyond the orders.
The Rebbe's investment in his soldiers is intimate, and extends into all the details.

It's not a nice thought.

It's real.



Bubbling and pumping and flowing.

All around me.

It's beyond humbling.

I'll be the first person to touchdown in Miami. There's stuff to do, and I was entrusted with the tasks, the seemingly small details that make the bigger picture. Like coffee.

It's unbelievable really.

Over the course of the next two and a half weeks, souls will jump, truths will explode, and many Jewish women will leave with a recharged connection with their maker, a burning passion to do good and not settle for anything less than sacred.

To be a part of such an experience is a magnificent blessing.

The Rebbe's vision is forever spiraling. From hilltops to the oceans depth, the daily transformation of our people in the direction of redemption is very alive.

On the outset of this journey, feeling the Rebbe's strength and partnership is more than meaningful.

It makes my world shine.

It gives me everything I have.


At any given moment, the Rebbe is on planes coming from and going everywhere. To feel him uniquely invested in this particular mission is extraordinary - a strong testimony to the truth and unity in the Rebbe's detailed vision for this world.

When you're with the Rebbe, you're elevated beyond your natural human tendencies.

You just flow.

The Rebbe doesn't mind flight delays, nor does he complain about his middle seat.

So, naturally, I didn’t.

Attention American Airlines.

The Rebbe is on the plane.


With G-dliness so firmly united in the cause, it's impossible not to feel this weightlessness right now.

I am going somewhere.

Sent from above.

I am blessed.

I am a running river.

I am an ascending flame.

I am a speeding train.

I am a rain drop.

Reporting live.

- M

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Into the deep with Bais Chana

There's no place like home (Rabbi Friedman during
a recent question-and-answer session with teens).

I leave to Florida tomorrow to prepare for the Bais Chana learning retreat for college students, women, and couples (3 sessions, Jan 1st-15th).

There's nothing like livin' and learnin' (and divin') with other beautiful Jewish women from around the globe.

Key Largo is famous for it's snorkeling and sunsets.

Soon to be famous for a white bearded Rabbi and some mind-blowing learning.

Stay in touch with the Hilltop.

There will be much to share.

- M

Diving deeper

Warming souls

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Oh, Aish.

Some Rabbis just seem bored. Like, scary bored.

Follow the link above to watch a video of an Aish Rabbi in real confusion about the purpose of Chanukah.

I had no idea that someone can make a case against public Menorah lightings, and try and show 9through Torah's lense!) that it's actually "counter intuitive to Chanukah itself."

Two words, buddy:

Persumei Nissah.

Publisizing the miracle.

So, we take it seriously.

You don't.


It's funny how some people - supposed educators - can spend time knocking the efforts of others. I mean, this guy actually posts a video.


How come I've never seen a Chabadnik put so much effort into questioning and putting down the efforts of another "sect" of Jews?

The answer is simple.

Chabad is too busy spreading good and paving the way for redemption.

Yea, I hear them outside my window right now.

They're driving out of Crown Heights in Menorah-topped cars, with music blaring.

I would like to hear this guy on the video ask his pathetic ego-toned questions to the thousands that have transformed their lives because of a public Menorah lighting. Underlying his message is a total disregard for other Jews. It's grotesque.

When he says that instead of public menorah lightings, "we should look within" and "make sure we're as strong as we can be" - what does he propose?

Besides, how do we do that without all the other Jews in on it with us? Do you believe in the Jewish people or not?

And since when does "looking within" mean the exclusion of care for the "outside"?

It's shocking.

Again, some people just seem a little bored.

It's almost like they got Rabbinical ordination just so they can make lame preachy home videos.

Things like this make me incredibly grateful for the Rebbe, who's eternal guidance and vision always gets to the core of the issue. When you have the Rebbe to look to as an example for real action, there's no time to waste with such silliness.There's no time to be bored.

This Rabbi really should go catch a Menorah lighting somewhere.

You know, step outside. Get some fresh air.

Might do him some good this holiday season.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Thank you, Zalman.

So I was at Empire Grill yesterday.

I have this strange order, where I basically get a baguette with a bunch of salad in it. It’s not on the actual menu, but they just charge me 5 bucks for it.

I ordered and was ready to pay. I only had a few dollars on me, and asked if I could pay with my card.

My arms holding my card went limp when the sweet woman who works there nodded a “no.”

I only had three dollars on me.

The friend I was with couldn’t lend me cash.

So I am standing there in line, searching through my wallet, as if cash will suddenly appear.

Before I knew it, an arm with a few dollars came jutting into the scene.

I turned around to face a Bachur with a brown yarmulke and the most sincere expression on his face.

“Here, take it.”

I froze.

No, that’s okay. I can’t take your money, really…thank you…”

I’m still hurriedly pacing through my receipts and cards.

But the Bachur insisted.

“Here. Really. It’s just a few dollars. Take it, and give the change to Tzedakah.”

“No, no, really.”

I tried to be very firm about my refusal to take his money.

But nothing would stop him.

“Please, just take it. Don’t worry about it. Just do the same for someone else someday.”

I almost melted, but still couldn’t bare the thought of taking a strangers money.

I said, “but I will worry about it. I just….can’t.”

The lady at the desk was sweet: “No problem, just pay the difference another time.”

But I didn’t want to do that either!

So, while I pretended to have hidden money in the recesses of my wallet, the Bachur kept on insisting.

He was so natural about it, like he does this for people everyday or something.

He wasn’t going to put the money back in his wallet.

His kindness was so obviously coming from the truest place.

I finally submitted.

With my cheeks probably totally flushed, I accepted the young man’s money.

I felt like a total flake.

I sat down next to my friend, totally flustered and slightly awkward.

Across the room, the Bachur sat down to eat his food.

The whole time I’m thinking, “He paid for almost half of my meal, and he’s just sitting across the room.”

It just felt funny.

But I was very moved by the whole thing.

When he was done with his food, he got up to leave.

Before I knew it, I was out of my seat chasing after him.

“Wait! Can I at least have your name?”

He gave me his name, and I thanked him again.

With one of those “no problem” waves and a cool “yea, sure, you’re welcome, don’t worry ‘bout it" - he was off.

When I was ready to leave, the woman at the cashier smiled at me and said, “That was so sweet, that boy paying for your meal…”

Clearly, she too was moved.

I’m not amazed that he offered. But what did make an impression on me was how sincere he was about it – so sincere that I felt like I was making him happy by taking his money!

It was probably the first time in my life that I felt like a stranger really wanted me to take something from them, and felt that they were genuine and serious about doing something for me. It just doesn’t happen everyday.

Something felt very good about being able to accept kindness from a so-called stranger. Deep inside, I had to find a very humble place to be able to accept the money.

Also, with this little happening came the realization that the world really goes round because of the kindness of others, no matter how seemingly small it may be.

Either way, maybe he reads this. I was so totally flustered, and – despite him so obviously not wanting my thanks – I didn’t get a chance to really tell him how thoughtful I thought it was.

It’s very possible that I will never see him again, let alone be given the opportunity to repay him.

But I am definitely more inspired to do more of what they call "random acts of kindness."

Thank you, Zalman.

Some Matis Clips

At 04:21 - Matis slips in the tune to "Rebbe Shlita, Ein Kamocha BaOlam."

Matis jumps into the Balcony, dances through the audience, riles up the crowd:

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Matisyahu - Festival of Lights show

Matisyahu played a great show at Hammerstein Ballroom last night.

Here's a brief outline and pictures, an attempt at capturing a little bit of what went on.



8: 30 - Meeting up with the fam, waiting outside. Crowd is arriving.

9:15 - We go in, find ourselves in the center, halfway between the front and the back. We're in a lively bunch. My brother starts singing "Oh Dreidel, Dreidel, Dreidel..." with some young boys, jumping around excitedly. Channukah is in the air.

9:22 - Everyone sees all the excitement in the crowd, the jumping with the tall bearded guy. Before we know it, people are flashing pictures and going nuts. Everyone thinks Matisyahu is in the crowd. But nope, it's my brother (Now dubbed "Matis Jr." - even Matisyahu's mother thinks they look alike).

9:32 - Matis takes the stage, in "full Chassidic garb." He opens with "Lord, raise me up" to a charged crowd.

9: 56 - Matis notices Saadya in the crowd, and points to him, smiling (Matis loves his homeboys). Now everyone is doubly confused. That bearded guy is still in the crowd? Apparently, he was just a look-alike. So much for all the screaming and pictures.

10:07 - "We want Moshiach NOW, and it's time it starts revealing..." Thousands of New York yidden go nuts.

10:24 - It's in between songs. The bachurim and boys are singing, "We want Moshiach now!" and it's catching on...."We don't wanna waaaait!"

10: 39 - Matisyahu is beat boxing, and slips in the tune to "Rebbe Shlita, Ein Kamocha B'olam" - the bachrurim pick up on it, and start singing.

10:54 - Matisyahu jumps over the balcony, into the mezzanine. People are going nuts, the music is drilling, and Matisyahu is jumping over speakers, hanging in the air - showing that there are no hurdles for a Jew, nothing can get in his way. Another bit of Channukah symbolism. He claps from the audience, and we all clap with him.

11: 01 - Matis asks for everyone to light up the world. Lighters and cellphones make the room a bit brighter.

11: 07 - Matis is on the side of the stage jumping. He stops and lifts his hand, with one finger up, pointing to one G-d above. The crowd follows. G-d is on the mind of thousands - very powerful.

11:15 - Matisyahu stands by the Menorah singing "Indestructable" : "Release me from their schemes....Shield me on the path thats dark and slippery... I stand with integrity....won't you utterly remove the cloud hangin' over me, wave you wave that decree in the shade of your wings, shelter me from the wicked who have pundered me, from my mortal enemies won't ya shield me..." The Channukah message is alive.

11:22 - Matis wishes the crowd a Happy Channukah. The show is over. The crowd of thousands, from every walk of life (including a couple that looked straight out of Mea Shearim), get ready to brace the cold outside.

11:30 - I'm in the line to get my jacket back. Two girls behind me are discussing Matisyahu's background. One girl says to the other, "Yea, he's either Chabad or like those Nanach guys. But, totally Chabad. Chabad is all about dancing around and being happy. Did you see how he was jumping around in the crowd and stuff? Yea, that's Chabad."

11:50 - I hear a girl say to her friend, "I touched Matisyahu when he was passing me by! I totally forgot that he's Shomer Negiiah! He doesn't touch any other woman but his wife, isn't that sweeeeeeet?"

11:55 - To a small group waiting to meet Matis, my brother explains how this past weeks Sicha relates to Matis's lyrics, "Keep my feet on the ground, and my head in the clouds." Later, I hear a girl repeating it to her friends saying, "isn't that coooool?"

12:15 - Outside, feeling pumped. Ready to leave. Discussing the show, a great Channukah kick-off.

12:30 - On the Subway back to Crown Heights. Someone asks my brother, "are you Matisyahu?" One more person in New York is let down that night.

1:43 - After long subway waits, I'm home now. Tired, but pumped. Many thoughts about Channukah, the Rebbe, Matisyahu, music, we all have our own mission...

Feeling inspired.

Channukah has been beautiful so far.

May the light and joy continue to reign.

- M

Friday, December 15, 2006

Light in the Dark

My hometown of Seattle.

After the aiport rejecting Shliach's request to put up a Menorah, they're all sitting powerless.

Really. A storm knocked all the power out.

They're, literally, in the dark.

Oh, Channukah.

So much happening in the air.

The Greeks attacked the soul of it all, waging war on spirituality.

They didn't win, and they never will.

While Seattle sits in the dark and lights their Menorahs, the message is alive.

It's interesting, that through the rejection of a Menorah, Channukah got the most publicity. After all the publicity, more Jews in Seattle, and in the world, have Channukah on their mind this year.


Right there.

Light in the dark.

This Channukah, may we all increase in light, give power to our souls, to spirituality, and feel the wamrth of Yiddishkeit all around, inside and out.

- M

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Yigee-yo! An interview with Matisyahu.

Listen to Matis talk, get thrown off by questions, and sing.

Matis talks about being Mathew Miller (yes, still), being Chassidic (or not), music, G-d, connecting, prayer, family, faith, his reggae tongue, and finding a minyan.

Also, cool version of Jerusalem (with beatbox).


Sunday, December 10, 2006

For The Breathing - Yud Tes Kislev

yud tes kislev running through my mind

for you

for me

for this family

for Jews

for the clean shaven

for the bearded

for the anti

for the pro

for the knowing

for the not

for the yes

for the no

and so lubavitchers everywhere

will inspire

will bless

will drink

will sing

and why?

because the Alter Rebbe

the protester

the revolutionary

the mind and heart of

the past

the present

the future

of you
of me
of us all

released from prison

and it all woke up


the jewish soul

the dancing

released for good

still spiraling


from today

into tomorow

so lubavitchers

are alive

soaking it up

happy and proud

but you over there

the alter rebbe did this for you

come on in

you don't have to stop and tuck your shirt in

it's okay

get over here and say

a l'chaim

to life

take this blessing

hear the story

we will sing and dance

and everyone will catch on

here's to chassidus

and the sweetness in it's path

to bringing it inside


to bringing it outside

all over

yud tes kislev

it's a holy day

for who?

for me

for you

for the breathing

A Gut Yom Tov to all!

- M fom the Hilltop

Yud Tes Kislev Anthology:

Twenty Eight Teachings from Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi:

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Color me true

It's very exciting for me to be in New York, a place where having many nail salons lowers the price of a manicure to $6, half as much as it costs in Seattle.

The nail salon on Kingston was quiet when I walked in with two friends the other day.

The arduous mental task of picking a color was all that stood between me and my seat in front of a sweet, middle aged, non-English speaking Asian.

I looked at the wall of colors.

Does anybody actually wear lime green nail polish?

Probably not, but they have it anyways.

It’s all there, to create a beautiful rainbow on the wall of potential colors that can have you standing for hours trying to decide.

My eyes go directly to the row of reds.

Red nail polish is so fun.

Red is boldly feminine.

Red is eye catching.

Red is dramatic.

Red is alluring.

Red is…

Gosh, you know the word I'm trying to get at.

I pick up the red.

I’m excited about this.

But something keeps me looking.

I am being held back from committing to the color.

The voice within is talking.

It’s saying, “Red is just too hot.”

It’s saying, “Red is a statement.”

It’s saying, “Be attractive, not attracting.”

In contrast, the friend I was with decided on red rather easily.

The pressure kicked in, and I told her about my inner struggle.

She said, “Yea, who cares? Do what you want.”

I say, “I should go with my intuition, right?”

She agrees.

But what is my intuition?

One part of me is saying, “Do what makes you feel good.”

The other is saying, “Don’t be so loud.”

I decided to end the inner battle by going with my initial attraction to the red.

I fell for its flames, and, with an excited smile, went to get the show on the road.

I sat down, and started chatting idly with the lady who was now dipping my hands in blue liquid and filing my nails to a square.

The whole time, I’m looking at the red positioned next to her hands, and glancing back at the color well.

The thoughts are still like waves in my head.

Would I wear red nail polish on a date?

Would I feel comfortable wearing it in front of the people I admire?

Does it give off a false impression? Portray a boldness that I just don’t relate to?

My hands are now ready for the polish.

The lady is shaking the bottle.

She is twisting the cap.

My hands are limp at her whim.

No joke – a second before the brush is about to hit my nails, I pull my hands away.

“Wait, I’m so sorry, but I am going to go get a different color!”

The color of nail polish should not bring forth such a mind battle.

Either it fits, or it doesn’t.

I took it as a sign that I really am uncomfortable with the red.

Right then and there, I decided - I am going to show my true colors.

I quickly ran back to the color wall and picked out something lighter, a warm peachy color.

For me, no matter how attracted I was to going for the bold red, it didn’t sit well with me.

I had to question my motives. I had to hear the stronger voice. I had to be honest.

When it came down to it, something overrode my attraction to the red.

I have not formulated a strong opinion about red nail polish.

I am not making broad claims about the nature of those who wear it.

This was just me being forced to make a personal decision, and trying to be true to myself, and where I’m holding.

I don’t want to be a person who doesn’t care.

If I had to tell myself “I don’t care” to go with it, then I couldn’t do it.

With my decision against red that day, I decided to have a conscious about even the seemingly insignificant choices I make all the time.

Everything about my outer appearance, yes – down to the color of my nail polish – is meant to blend and jive with who I am beneath it all.

So, I spent that Shabbos with a polish color that was more “blah” than “wow.”

And the funny part is that, deep down, what nobody sees is that I am very attracted to hot red nail polish.

I am wearing lighter shades, but little do you know, I hurt my head deciding against red.

“Mimi doesn’t wear red nail polish.”

Yea, so what? I don’t wear it. But I am attracted to it.

In the end, does my choice of color point to my modesty?

Modesty starts from within, but within - I want red!

There, the truth is out there.

Don’t be deceived.

Yes, in the end, though – I didn’t go for the red.

And what does that say about me?

It’s not so clear.

But one thing is for sure.

While my nails may not be painted a bold red, the decision I made left me feeling pretty brave.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

The Hilltop needs you :)

You're asking for more.

What do you want?

Myth # 7?

A piece I was asked to write about being single?

My battle over color at the nail salon?

I'm taking requests, suggestions, questions.

What interests you?

What energizes you?

- M from the Hilltop