Tuesday, October 29, 2013

BBC Feature on Long Island Railroad Daf Yomi - Many Aish Kodesh/Far Rockaway People Interviewed!

I heard about this BBC feature about the daf yomi shiur on the Long Island Railroad (LIRR) many times before it came together. The film crew had a number of fits and starts and the chevra had to wear suits a number of days for filming this that didn't end up coming together! There are extensive interviews with a number of chevra from our shul and accountant Yossi Klein was particularly eloquent here. Enjoy and share. Big kiddush Hashem!!! Here is the BBC website link with a short article and here is one with a longer article they came out with at about the same time.

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Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Three-Part Interview with Shlomo Carlebach & Music - If the Establishment Doesn't Invite You, That's When You Do It the Best of the Best

The three videos below contain a fairly in-depth interview with Shlomo Carlebach which I hadn't seen before. Great questions and answers! HT The StollelClick here for another long multi-part interview which I posted earlier.

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Thursday, October 17, 2013

Video Shiur - Does Thinking About the Akeida Stop You from Sleeping? - Rabbi Joey Rosenfeld

Definitely worth seeing this shiur by deep young talmid chacham Rabbi Joey Rosenfeld, who it's always a pleasure to see at Rav Moshe Weinberger's shiurim. HT UofPurim. In it, Rabbi Rosenfeld quotes the Ishbitizer, Rav Kook, Dylan, Kierkegaard and Derrida
One interesting and central point in the shiur is that the point of the test was that that Avraham wasn't directly commanded to slaughter Yitzchak, but it was a "favor" or "request" asked from Hashem of Avraham. This is in contrast to the generally understood way of looking at the Akeida as Hashem's unequivocal command, as noted by Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein in Cross-Currents recently.

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Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Guest Post: The Secret Life of Gershon Burd Z'L - Please Read & DONATE

I personally knew R'Gershon while I learned at Bircas Hatorah. He was a hidden Tzaddik. Klal Yisrael and his family lost a special neshama. Please take time to read his story and more important, donate money to his fund.

Click here for story on Aish.com

Click here to donate directly now

Kol Tuv,


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Friday, October 11, 2013

Guest Post: How to easily add new built in internet filters on any iOS 7 Apple Device

As a follow up from a comment I left to DixieYids post here and a article DixieYid sent to me from Matzav.com here I wanted to post these simple steps for locking your iOS 7 device to block all adult content and even create a white list (I will explain). This will allow both your cellular data and WIFI connection to block adult content and still be able to use Safari. It's simple and unobtrusive that there is simply no excuse not to have some basic level of filtering on your iOS device now.

Step 1: Click on the settings icon and go into "General"

Step 2: Once in "General" click on "Restrictions". Note: If you have not set restrictions before it will be set to "Off" and will prompt you to assign a easy 4 digit passcode. Have this passcode set by another person to ensure you cannot unlock settings. In addition you should limit explicit content for things like movies as shown below. 

Step 3: Once in "Restrictions" scroll down until you see "Allowed Content". There is a new "Websites" option to click on. As noted earlier, in this screen you can limit other content like movie ratings.

Step 4: Now you can check the "Limit Adult Content" and you are DONE!

Optional Steps 5-6: If you wish you can add a blacklist/whitelist. Blacklist will ALWAYS block a certain website. Whitelist feature will only allow websites YOU list. It is a great feature and something I might try soon.

Step 5 Black list: Scroll to the bottom of the same "Websites" menu previously in when we selected the "Limit Adult Content" option in step 4. In the "Never Allow" option you can simply type in URLs you always want blocked!

Step 6 White list: Here instead of selecting "Limit Adult Content" select "Specific Websites Only". As a default Apple has pre-populated a list of kid friendly options. The last option at the bottom is "Add a Website" (not pictured below). Simply type in as many sites as you want to white list. Again once setup your Apple device will only allow the sites YOU choose.

I hope these steps were clear and help people protect their phones from basic adult content. If I can be of more help please leave a comment below.

Thank you,


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Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Know that G-d is Everywhere and Ask "Where is G-d?" - Shlomo Katz Kumzitz and Question to Lubavitcher Rebbe


Check out this beautiful audio (above) of a Kumzitz by Reb Shlomo Katz given at JLIC at Queens College back in March of this year. What he said from Rebbe Nachman about knowing that Hashem is everywhere, in everything, and always asking "Where are You G-d?" reminded me of this beautiful story below about a man's departure from the derech and how he found his way back after the Lubavitcher Rebbe, zy"a, gave him some time. I recommend seeing/listening to both! HT Menashe Fleischer for the second video! 


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Sunday, October 6, 2013

Chasidish Drush by the Rambam re Fallen Jews Who Try to "Steal" a Few Mitzvos

I saw the most amazing drush by the Rambam quoted by Devorah in her Voice After the Fire blog.
The piece she quoted is in the Rambam's Igeres Hashmad, which he wrote giving a community guidance on how to handle the forced conversion issue and how to deal with Jews who had converted out under duress.
A certain rav wrote the community that if a Jew had converted out, that they should be shunned and booed out of shul if they ever showed up and that any mitzvos they fulfilled in secret counted for nothing. This is understandable in the sense that it was important to them to send a message and set an example to prevent others from succumbing to the the pressure. They didn't want others to think they could convert out for the sake of expediency, thinking that there would be no consequences if they did so.
But the Rambam wrote the community, telling them that people who, r"l, converted out or broke Shabbos should not be shunned or chased out of shul, but should be welcomed and that all of the mitzvos they performed in secret were very precious. And he did so quoting a very chassidish sounding drush. I would not be surprised seeing something like that in the name of Reb Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev. Here's that key part from the Rambam: 
וגם כן אינו ראוי להרחיק מחללי שבתות ולמאוס אותם, אלא מקרבם ומזרזם לעשיית המצות. וכבר פירשו רז"ל, שהפושע אם פשע ברצונו כשיבוא לבית הכנסת להתפלל מקבלים אותו, ואין נוהגים בו מנהג בזיון. וסמכו על זה מדברי שלמה ע"ה משלי ו' ל' "אל יבוזו לגנב כי יגנוב למלא" וגו', אל יבוזו לפושעי ישראל שהן באין בסתר לגנוב מצות.
It is also not appropriate to distance oneself or show disgust at those who desecrate Shabbos. Rather, draw them close and encourage them to do the mitzvos. Chazal have already explained that [even] a sinner who sinned willfully, when he comes to shul to daven, we accept him and do not humiliate him. They relied on that which Shlomo Hamelech said in Mishlei (6:30), "They will not despise a thief if he steals to sate [his apetite because he is hungry." Do not despise Jewish sinners who come in secret to "steal" mitzvos.
So beautiful! The Rambam does not just explain the pasuk in Mishlei to mean that just like one should not be too harsh on a thief if he steals because he feels forced to do so by starvation, he should also not be too harsh on Jews who converted out under duress. Rather, he takes it further and says that when the pasuk discusses thieves, it's refering to Jews who have fallen out of the fold but are now coming back just a drop to "steal" a few mitzvos. Don't despise them but honor every little effort they make to come closer to holiness. 
Picture courtesy of The Destiny Foundation.
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Saturday, October 5, 2013

Two Stories: Shpoler Zeide/Rebbe Nachman and Bais Yisroel of Ger from Yom Kippur War

I saw a great story over Shabbos in the sefer Sippurei Chassidim by Rav Shlomo Yosef Zevin, zt"l and heard another story from Rav Weinberger at Shalosh Sheudos which share a lot in common so I wanted to share both.
Some chassidim heard about all of the negative things the Shpoler Zeide said about Rebbe Nachman and decided to go to Rebbe Nachman's town to do a little "self help" to prevent Rebbe Nachman from continuing his work.
The Shpoler Zeide heard about this and summoned the "activist" chassidim. When they came, he first told them not to touch Rebbe Nachman or harm him in any way. He then told them the following vort:

Rashi brings down that when the Torah says about Noach that he was a "tzadik in his generation" that some of chazal explain this positively that even in such a horrible generation, he was still a tzadik! And others explain it negatively, that by comparison to his low generation, he was considered a tzadik, but that if he had lived in Avraham's generation, he would have been considered like nothing.

The Shpoler Zeide asked the well-known question: If it's possible to explain the fact that the Torah calls Noach a tzadik positively, why on earth would any of the sages have explained it negatively?! Doesn't the mishna say in Pirkei Avos that one should judge every person favorably!

The Shpoler Zeide therefore explained that because Noach is the first person in the Torah who is called a tzadik, chazal were concerned. Although they wanted to explain Noach only positively, they were worried that if they did so, everyone would say that someone can only be considered a tzadik if he has no opposition among the other rabbonim and tzadikim. Chazal therefore made a point to find some basis for "opposition" to Noach so that from then on, everyone would know that opposition by tzadikim to someone does not mean that the person isn't a tzadik.

We see from this that even though the Shpoler Zeide was stridently opposed to much of what Rebbe Nachman was doing, that as a person, he considered him a tzadik.

I heard the second story from Rav Moshe Weinberger at Shalosh Sheudos. He said that during the Yom Kippur War, many parents were coming to the Bais Yisroel of Ger for help because of their children who were fighting in the war. He was completely immersed in talking with, crying with, and davening with these families.

The Bais Yisroel davened every day at the Kosel, begging Hashem for mercy on these young men. At one point he told a number of people the following thought: He started off by asking the same question asked by the Shpoler Zeide above; why chazal would explain the way the Torah refers to Noach as a tzadik pejoratively if there other, more positive, ways of explaining it. After all, it was in Noach's zechus that the whole world was saved!

He answered that it must be chazal were concerned that if everyone saw Noach was such a big tzadik and he succeeded in saving the world, that they would think that only a big tzadik can save the world. Chazal minimized Noach's tzidkus in order to teach us that even a "little tzadik" can save the world. The Rebbe continued with a tefila that maybe even a "little tzadik" like him could accomplish something in saving some of the boys fighting in the war.

Rav Weinberger concluded that we each have to believe that we too can save the world and do not have to be the biggest tzadikim to do so.

May we all be zoche!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

New Ramat Beit Shemesh Housing Update and Meetings with Builders/R. Judah Mischel in NY Area!

I got the email below from Rabbi Judah Mischel giving an update on the new building projects in Ramat Beit Shemesh Alef. See above for a video he, Rav Boaz Mori, and the realtors made. Very exciting. He also has events coming up for more information, including a chance to meet with the builder, in Forest Hills, Bergenfield, NJ, YU, Kew Gardens Hills, and Manhattan. Very exciting! See below for the details!
Lev HaRama" is an exciting community initiative and building project in Ramat Beit Shemesh Alef. A partnership and joint venture between Yigal Realty & Yeshivat Lev HaTorah, our goal is to build on the successful model of Ramat Shilo (Shechunat Yeshivat Lev Hatorah), of creating a neighborhood model based around a Torah institution and community center.
We are developing a vibrant, growth oriented Kehillah in two adjacent communities- Ramat HaRo'eh (named in honor of The Ro'eh, Rav Avraham Yitzchak HaKohen Kook zt’l) as well as parallel project in Givat Shilo.
We are thrilled that over 40 inspired families have already purchased homes and are committed to joining us in developing our vision for creating an open and comfortable, warm Torah community in Ramat HaRo'eh.
BE"H residents will enjoy all the advantages of living in a new area of an established city – with an array of excellent schools, stores and the convenience of the location between Yerushalayim and Tel Aviv, as well as the unique opportunity to help build and shape a Kehillah from the ground up.
We are working with experienced realtors, Kablanim, architects and builders, and have obtained exclusive rights to develop and market a limited number of attractive, high quality and competitively priced homes, apartments, duplexes, and townhouses.
Specifically, we are excited to announce our partnership with Reb Mordechai Chazon of Chazon & Galili Ltd., one of Israel’s most prolific and experienced real estate developers. Over the past 30 years, Chazon & Galili have built thousands of residential units, and are renown for their reliability, stellar reputation and high quality construction.
R' Mordechai Chazon will be joining us in New York area next week for a series of presentations about the new communities, and will be reviewing floor plans and exciting opportunities that are especially relevant for young couples and growing families.
Meir Dombey, representing the real estate company of Yigal Nechasim - one of the area's most respected firms- will be at the meetings as well.
We look forward to seeing you and sharing the vision and plans for this project, and invite you to take advantage of this exciting opportunity by joining us at one of the the information session / open houses next week:

  • Tuesday, October 8th @ Home of Justin & Shaindy Diller,
    69-11 Yellowstone Blvd, Apt. #B25, Forest Hills, Queens, NY 11375, 8pm
  • Wednesday October 9th @ Home of Rav Moshe Zvi & Alisa Weinberg, 19 Sunrise Terr., Bergenfield NJ, 07621, 8:15pm
  • Thursday Oct 10 @ Yeshiva University / Amsterdam Ave., Glueck Building, Rm 418, 7:45pm
  • Motzai Shabbos, October 12 @ Home of Michael & Lauren Mandelstam, 144-49 70th Road, Kew Garden Hills, NY 11367, 8:30pm
  • Sunday-Monday October 13-14 @ Israel Real Estate Exhibition,Grand Hyatt, Park Avenue at Grand Central Terminal
Chevreh, every effort we make toward holiness- and building & settling The Land of Israel is meaningful... May this effort bring Nachas Ruach to Hashem, and BE"H maybe even help some of you (or someone you know...) find your place in Eretz Yisrael!
If you're able to help spread the word to any family or friends who may be interested, I'd really appreciate it...
Thank you very much ~ Tizku L'mitzvos!
Looking forward to seeing you,

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No Jew Should Use Unfiltered Internet - The Filter I Use & Recommend is Web Chaver

Enjoy the video above recently created by Web Chaver, an Internet accountability and filtering company. It's cute and definitely a lot more useful than some recent filter advertisements.
It's been a while since I wrote about the self-evident fact that no Jew should use or permit his or her children to use unfiltered Internet here and here. While Internet did not exist in the time of chazal so there is no halachic prohibition of yichud (seclusion) with a computer/Internet-capable device, it is clear that using the Internet without people seeing, accountability software, or a filter is significantly more spiritually dangerous than being alone with a woman other than one's wife. That being said, no system is perfect, even the one I use, and there will always be ways to bypass an Internet filter so the real issue and real solution is to install the Yiras Shomayim Filter.

As an update on what I recommend in terms of an Internet filter, I have been using Web Chaver since January 2010. They offer a buddy system and a filter; and I definitely believe it's best to use both. They also offer filters which you can install on your Apple or Android devices. As part of the "buddy system," my buddy gets a weekly email of any questionable sites I may have visited on any of my computers that week so this "accountability" aspect helps in terms of self-control, recognizing that if I look at something I shouldn't, my friend, who I greatly respect and in front of whom I want to look good, will know about it and ask me about it. If it's totally innocent, I can just explain it to him. We work very well together in this regard. :-) See also the right sidebar where I've placed a permanent logo for Web Chaver so even if you forget the name of the company I'm writing about, you can click on that logo at any time to find their site. 

Web Chaver also has a filter, so I use that too both for my own benefit and as an added protection for my kids if they end up using the computer without mine or my wife's knowledge or supervision. There are also free filters available, like K-9, but I stopped using these for reasons that I no longer remember for certain. Perhaps it was the ability to have real customer service. I don't want to end up in a situation where I'm frustrated with my inability to access the Internet normally because of the filter and then I'm motivated to just uninstall it, which would leave me without protection.

The best way to do the accountability software and filter is to have your "buddy" choose the password and have exclusive control over it so one doesn't have access to that in a weak moment. I personally don't do that yet though because if one uninstalls the filter/accountability software from any computer, it sends an immediate message to my "buddy" so one still has some accountability in that situation.

I mentioned kids before. My wife and my first focus is trying to teach about and model positive, thoughtful, and responsible use of technology and Internet.  That goes along with modeling, encouraging, and facilitating a life in which we and they look forward to and find our enjoyment and pleasure in Torah, mitzvos, and all sorts of wholesome activities. The kids will have to choose how they use technology/the Internet on their own at some point in their lives so it would be completely negligent if we simply banned it without doing our best to give them the tools, knowledge, and inclination that will set them up for success when that time comes.  
With all of that said, none of our kids have yet reached an age where independent use of technology or the Internet is necessary or advisable. Therefore, our personal policy for all of our kids, since our  home computer does have Internet on it, is four-fold: (i) all computers/Internet-capable devices are password protected and they all lock up after a couple of minutes of inactivity; (ii) we do not let any of our children (even/especially our 9th grade daughter) use the computer or an Internet-capable device (even just the word processor) unsupervised or without one of us around; (iii) even if they do get on the computer somehow without us knowing, it's filtered; and (iv) even if somehow they do view something inappropriate, both my buddy and I will get the regular weekly report email showing any questionable sites visited on my computer. It's not a perfect system but B"H it's working so far.
The purpose of sharing all of this advice and information about what we're doing is to hopefully give over something that may be helpful to you or remind/encourage you to either get a filter and/or buddy system software for your computers/devices or to close up any gaps if you have any computers or devices which are not yet protected.
Hatzlacha raba to everyone in this nisayon of the generation and may we merit first and foremost to install the Yiras Shomayim Filter!

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