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Rabbosai It’s Ellul

yom kippurI used to like mussar, the self improvement stuff that gets you off your feet and makes you realize you’ve been a real shitty person your entire life. Great, make me feel like crap for having a short temper, not cleaving to the Lord, and thinking about the skatepark during krias hatorah. Mussar takes two of the most important things in Judaism, guilt and character development, and allows Rabbis to project their misgivings upon you. I used to love it, until it started getting a bit ridiculous.

I like learning about the dangers of slander, gossip, anger, and not being a cheerful dude. I really like smiling, it helps me change from that guy giving you the finger for going 70 in the carpool lane to a simple wave as I pass you on the right. What I don’t like are the moshels from the days of yore that basically prove that whole thing about the Jewish people spiraling down from the generations since sinai.

A nice fellow with a very large brimmed hat spoke during shalosh seudos this week. With reshus from the Rav he spoke about Ellul and how far our spiritual market value has been lowered since Mir in 1920. Apparently when the chazon would announce Ellul during birchas hachodesh in 1920, one would hear screaming from the Ezras Nushim and the women would faint. Obviously, my first thoughts went to nether world where all the women of Mir were having extra marital relationships with the local water carrier while their husbands shteiged away – hence the fainting – but this was not the case. “How could it be that just 90 years ago, women were fainting at the mere announcement of Ellul, and today we have no reaction?” Damned good question. Follow it up with a fairy tale about the son trading some of the kings jewels for some rice in some far off land or being able to ask the richest man in all the land for anything you want and that about sums up every Ellul shmuess I’ve ever heard.

I can tell you that the vecker in my yeshiva one year was genuinely concerned that we were sleeping in during slichos. After all, it was the best time to sleep in, who could pass up the chance to avoid those pesky Rabbis pulling off your covers because they wanted to do slichos? I never thought I’d have to hear the crying voice of “Rabbosai It’s Ellul” again, yet here I am in San Jose, California and it continues to haunt me whenever I wake up on time for shul.

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{ 25 comments… add one }
  • Welcome Back Heshy September 8, 2014, 10:54 AM

    I laughes numerous times while reading this.
    You’ve been sorely missed.

  • Shragi September 8, 2014, 11:14 AM

    Yidden went all the way from New York to Mir in the 30s to get their mussar fix and you’re trying to run away from it? You should be ashamed of yourself.

  • sh September 8, 2014, 12:04 PM
  • Perplexed September 9, 2014, 9:33 AM

    It doesn’t seem like Judaism cares about you being a good person. What it cares about is doing what it says in the Torah. In the Torah it happens to talk about doing things which we perceive as good acts, such as giving to charity, but the end goal is not being a good person, it’s doing what the Torah says to do. Being a good person is a side product. Any thoughts on this topic? It has been bothering me for a while.

    • Questioner September 9, 2014, 7:25 PM

      You should ask this question on http://judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/ask

      • Perplexed September 9, 2014, 7:40 PM

        Cool, Just did, Thanks

    • Abe September 11, 2014, 6:35 AM

      You have hit the nail on the head. Rabbis don’t care about you as a person they care about a book.

      • Rebecca November 27, 2014, 7:20 PM

        I don’t know what kind of rabbis you’re speaking to, my rabbis care about me deeply. “Kadsha Barich Hu Oiraysa Yisrael Chad Hu” –that means G-d, the Torah and we as a people are all one. You cannot truly, essentially care about one and not the other, or your care for one is not real.

        Someone who only “cares about the book” is not acting as selflessly as they’d like to imagine.
        For ourselves, it’s a lot to work on ūüôā

    • Still Figuring It Out September 13, 2014, 7:39 PM

      Being a “good person” is completely meaningless without a legal framework.

    • Still Figuring It Out September 13, 2014, 7:48 PM

      Being a “good person” is completely meaningless without a legal framework. People are biased by nature in favor of their own self-interest, and will always gravitate in that direction regardless of how much they sincerely believe in being a good person. The fact is that it is completely obvious how to be a good person- as long as you are outside of the situation looking in. When you are inside of the situation, being a biased human being who is likely in the throes of strong selfish motivations, it is impossible to clearly see right from wrong. Your only hope for being a “good person” in practice rather than theory is to have a set of concrete rules to remind you when you have crossed a line- even though you are not always going to feel like following those rules. I mean, my landlady is a 70-something year old bleeding heart liberal who is always preaching about Christian kindness. You know what? She just told us to pay an extra 500/month or move out at the end of our lease! This after we just paid for a new oven since her highness refused to reimburse us for the one that went bust on us. This old lady has been preaching one message her entire life, but when the opportunity beckons, she is every bit as greedy and selfish as all of the people she judges.

      • Perplexed September 13, 2014, 8:09 PM

        Hmm. I definitely understand what you’re saying I just can’t say I agree with it. In the case of your landlady, she simply wasn’t being a good person in that situation no matter how often she talks about. I do agree that it is one thing to have an ideal of being a good person, and something completely different to practice it in daily life. One can talk about being good all the time and it can mean nothing if its not practiced, as is obvious from your situation. And even with a legal framework, one can simply choose not to follow it. What I am troubled by is that there doesn’t seem be a virtue of being good and nice to the people around you, in whatever form it can come in. Much more emphasis is placed on doing mitzvos. That’s not to say that there isn’t good being done by Jews, there’s actually lots of it, but those forms of service seem to come in 2nd ranking to learning Torah and doing mitzvos. In my mind, goodness and harmony with the people one interacts with seem much more important.

        • Mitchell Glass September 30, 2014, 12:09 PM

          It is important to note that when rabbi Hillel was asked to summarize the torah he said “love your fellow as yourself the rest is commentary now go learn”. Also, there are problems with the jewish community, not judaism.

          • Rebbizzel November 11, 2014, 8:44 AM

            That’s not what he said. He said “What is hated upon you don’t do onto you’re friend”. Vastly different from R Akivas “Love you’re fellow as yourself is a great rule in Torah”. Hillel isn’t talking about being kind, he is talking about not being a jerk. This is not the forum to discuss the difference.

      • Abe September 15, 2014, 2:06 AM

        Wasn’t the 2nd Temple destroyed for sticking to the exact letter of a legal framework? A legal framework can take away from humanity. And who’s legal framework? All if them, including our own, change overtime and what’s changing them? Our inner sense of humanity. And I can tell you a thousands stories if from Jews who screwed someone over.

        • Rebecca November 27, 2014, 7:26 PM

          Oh, c’mon, those Jews who screwed someone over were not doing it within the framework of the Torah. They were lying, cheating, didn’t have bitachon, etc.
          And yeah it is interesting that G-d created the Torah with Torah shebaal peh. He gave us this kind of flexibility. Torah was created for man, right? But we have to interpret it according to the laws of Torah SheBaal Peh and tradition of course.
          One of the ways Hashem relates to us, i.e. husband-wife, father-son etc, is called I think “mishtatfim”–we’re partners. Hashem wants us to have a giant massive part in building His world. I think it is so beautiful.

    • Rebbizzel November 11, 2014, 8:38 AM

      Hence the concep of “Naval Birshus HaTorah” an awful person who fulfils the Torah’s commandments. He is in violation of Kedoshim TiHiyu according to Nachmanades.

  • ahg September 9, 2014, 1:43 PM

    Women in Mir went to shul?

  • moishela September 10, 2014, 2:50 AM

    BS”D

    Discussion with Moishela (with his family)

    A
    Handicapped child

    3Av 5774
    (July 29, ’14)

    We Must Prepare Ourselves To Be Unblemished Sacrifices

    Since the last time that I wrote, much has happened.
    The world has almost turned up-side-down. Besides the war that we are having
    here in Eretz Yisroel, many other wars have begun and the world has become a
    much more dangerous and frightening place. One of the reasons that it is so
    frightening, besides the fact that these wars are cruel, shooting, killing wars,
    with blood flowing freely, besides that fact, what frightens us the most is
    that much of what is happening today simply doesnít work according to a logical
    mind, a normal logical mind. Pieces are missing from the puzzle that should be
    evident. We donít know who the good guy is. We donít know who the bad guy is. We
    donít know from one minute to the other who is on whose side. Suddenly there
    are certain things that are uncovered that we had no inkling had ever been in
    existence, and they tell us in the highest places with the most knowledgeable
    of people so-to-speak that it has been there for the last ten, twenty, fifty
    years festering and growing and becoming monstrosities, and we scratch our
    heads and say how in the world did that happen. How did it become so bad? How
    come it came upon us in such a sudden way? How come no one knew, and if they
    knew, how come no one did anything?

    We trust the governments to make sure that all our
    medications are not dangerous to us. We trust the courts that they will give
    everybody a fair shake so-to-speak. We trust the doctors that they will give us
    the right diagnosis. We trust the economists that tell us that things are
    looking up financially, or they give us advice how to invest. We trust all the
    different aspects of the Egel Hazahav, but we donít trust the Truth. The Truth
    is Hakodosh Boruch Hu, and we trust man more than the Truth with a capital T. I
    know that we are coming very close to Moshiach. I know that weíre soon going to
    throw off the bonds of this terrible Golus. I know that only those who recognize
    Truth, with a capital T will ever be able to live in a world of the Truth with
    a capital T, and therefore I want to explain to you that things look jumbled
    and not logical because itís not the Truth. Itís not the way the world was
    created.

    What is happening today, itís going against the Truth.
    Its degenerate, and its pulling us into a degenerate mode, and its taking over
    the whole world, and we have to resist. The only way to stop it is to recognize
    that something is very wrong here and weíre hanging on to the wrong lifesaver
    for dear life. We think we have a rubber tube to float on the water and be
    saved, but we donít. Itís full of lead and itís going to bring us down to the
    bottom of the sea, Chas Vesholom. What does Hashem want from us? How can we
    survive this terrible calamity, this evilness that has oozed out from every
    corner of the world that nobody realized existed in such a tremendous force?
    How can we survive all this? Who are we, only puny people without any strength.
    How can we survive this terrible, terrible flood of degeneracy? There is only
    one way. We have to prepare ourselves.

    We have to prepare ourselves now to greet Moshiach. We
    have to prepare ourselves to be perfect sacrifices, and yes I did say Korbanos
    Shleimos, and we have to be Shaleim, Shaleim or at least try very hard to be
    Shalem. If we donít get to Shleimus, Hashem will make the Shleimus, but it will
    be so difficult and so hard, and cause us much pain, no less pain than an
    operation, only it will be a spiritual operation which can be much more painful
    than a physical operation. Thereís no anesthetic for this kind of operation,
    and weíll feel every single pain, so we must prepare ourselves to be Korbanos
    to be as pure as possible. Donít get too frightened. I donít mean that weíre
    all going to die Al Kiddush Hashem. I mean that Hashem wants us to live Al
    Kiddush Hashem, and He wants us to be as perfect as possible, and the way to
    become as perfect as possible is to trust Hashem completely. Trust everything
    He demands from us. Do not question one thing that He demands from us. We want
    to do His complete Ratzon. Iím not saying that we will be able to get to that
    high level, but we have to make a really, really good try for it. We have to
    really, really put our minds, hearts, and soul, and our bodies into this great
    endeavor, probably the greatest endeavor ever.

    Yitzchok Avinu was a perfect Korbon. He was a Korbon
    Shaleim. His father was ready to listen to Hakodosh Boruch Hu and sacrifice his
    only son. The only son that could continue and become the father of Am Yisroel,
    one of the fathers. Only Yitzchok could do that. He was willing to die because
    Hashem said so. That is the kind of Bitachon we have to have. In the end it was
    enough that Yitzchok allowed himself to be tied onto the Mizbayach so that he wouldnít
    squirm when the knife came to his throat. He put his throat out so it would be easier
    for his father when he had to do the Shechting, and he was happy to do Hashemís
    will, and Avraham Avinu didnít hesitate once to Shecht his only son, because
    Hakodosh Boruch Hu wanted it, and he knew that everything that Hakodosh Boruch
    Hu does is for our good. He also knew that nothing that we have, nothing that
    we think we own, no child of ours is really ours. Nothing is ours. Everything
    is His, and we too are His, and thatís the way you achieve Shleimus.

    You have to be sure in every way that Hashem is Hakol
    Yachol and whatever He does is absolutely perfect for us, and will be the best
    thing for us no matter how much it makes us suffer, because our suffering is
    only an illusion. Itís from our twisted desires and we have to realize that
    this world is only a very short visit for us, and then we go to the next world.
    But now we wonít go to the next world. Im Yirtzeh Hashem, weíll go straight to
    Olam Habah of Moshiach.

    So now my dear Yidden, be strong. Itís time to change.
    Itís time to take account of our lives, each part of our lives, and try to be
    much better because if we donít do this weíre going to be in big trouble. I beg
    you, make an accounting. Balance your checkbook with Hashem. Find what you owe
    Him, and find what you think He owes you, and IĎm sure that we all will find
    that we are deeply, deeply in debt, and
    that we need to show Hashem how we love and trust Him, how we will do anything
    in the world that He asks us, even if it means our lives. Thatís what we have
    to show Him. We are going to be called upon as Jews to be tested in the most
    difficult ways, and we must be close to Him. We must take out of ourselves all
    the superficial nonsense of this world of lies, of this world of Egel Hazahav,
    of this world of illusions and come to the truth. Its very frightening because
    all of your, what you call regular lives, is going to be totally, totally
    different. Youíre going to have to give up things that have become out of disproportionately
    important to you, and youíre going to have to take from your heart all the petty
    nonsense that you so come to depend on to help you pass time in a superficial
    way. You are going to have to deal with the truth. Itís very frightening, and our
    lives will change. The great wealth that this so-called western world has known
    is going to vanish. Itís going to be gone. We are going to have to learn to
    live in a much more simple way, and that will help us become closer to Hashem. It
    is happening now already, and World War Three has begun already, and I think we
    can all see it, and it is going to spread. Itís going to become a great, great war,
    a great and frightening war, and I know that all true Jews will know that what
    I am saying now is true. Prepare yourselves my dear Jews, my dear Yidden.
    Hashem loves you and wants you back wants you back with Him. This is a lowly generation
    but the Jewish heart and soul is still here and on that Jewish heart and soul
    of every single Yid will be built Olam Habah of Moshiach.

    Q: Why donít you sleep at
    night?

    A: I donít sleep at night
    because I know that in the not so far future weíre really going to have to
    trust Hashem. We are going to realize that food and clothing and shelter will
    not be forthcoming so easily at all, and we will have to trust Hashem. When I
    say we Iím talking about the whole world. Iím talking about every single person
    in the world except those few who think that they can rule instead of Hashem,
    Chas Veshololm, but we will be the winners because in the end Hashem will
    banish them into nonexistence and we will get all the benefits. We will not
    starve to death and we will not be out in the cold if we trust in Hashem, if we
    trust the fact that He is Hakol Yachol.

    Thatís why I cry, because I
    know itís going to be very hard for many Yidden, and by the way do you realize
    how much of the world is going to be destroyed, Hashem Yishmor? It is said so
    clearly in the Nevuas. Do you realize what a shock that is? I donít think there
    will be any CNN around to be able to photograph it, but what can I tell you?
    Just thinking about the shock of it is enough to make me cry, cry for Am Yisroel,
    cry for the whole world. The Reshaim are playing their sinister games of murder
    and bloodshed. They are such foolish
    people especially the Goyim the Jews are also being foolish because we are not
    coming close to the Truth, to Hakodosh Boruch Hu. We have made our whole lives
    superficial Yiddishkeit and all I can do is cry over it. We have split up into
    millions of factions instead of being one with Hashem, but Hashem will teach us.
    He loves us. He wants to save us, but weíre making it very hard on ourselves.

    Just remember that
    according to many great Torah sources most of the Jews of this generation, the
    generation just before the Geula Sheleima, will be Erev Rav. They can be Frum or
    secular but not true Jews and they will try to pull us away from the Truth.

    Yes my crying has to do
    with Am Yisroel. Iím so worried. Itís not so simple. We have to be strong and
    we have to be without blemish.

    • Shut up September 11, 2014, 1:17 AM

      Go away and shut up

      • Victor September 11, 2014, 3:47 PM

        great post moishela! thanks a million

  • Abe September 11, 2014, 6:32 AM

    My favourite month is mar Cheshvan

    • BlueJew September 18, 2014, 1:28 AM

      Don’t you mean menachem Cheshvan?

      • Perplexed September 18, 2014, 6:18 AM

        Haha true say, that’s where the real peace is.

  • Joseph September 11, 2014, 9:14 PM

    For anyone who doesn’t know, facilitated communication, the method of extracting these messages from autistic children, has been clearly proven false back in the 90’s already. There has been whole documentaries about it. The transcript for the documentary can be found here http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/programs/transcripts/1202.html, and the film can be found on youtube in segments, the first is here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HXw8Ksvyt5Y.

  • Rebbizzel November 11, 2014, 8:36 AM

    You’d love Rav Kook who believes the world is getting better. And Gush since they love to talk about more people today than ever before learn and the amount of Torah being learned is the greatest since the exile. It gets my blood pumping more than all the crap how we are the worst ever. If we expect to be worse we will be worse. People need to stop thinking everything was better back when the world was awful.

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