Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Boring Stories

O.K. for those of you who don't know me, to keep my kids entertained, I tell them what I call "boring stories from when I was growing up". So if you want to hear a boring story, read on, but keep in mind, I've warned you. Here is a story I've told, just as I do for my kids (I feel like Arnold Fine):
My parents have a nice 3 bedroom house. They have a basement and an attic. The basement is where my parents have the "chametz room". Every year, my dad would start getting ready for pesach by driving to the local Pathmark, and we would collect boxes to put our chametz in. Why we had to pack up every cabinet, and every pot and pan to shlep to the basement was beyond me, but I was little, so I didn't ask. This packing was exceptionally strenuous because my mother wanted to throw out old items (see Lion of Zion) while my dad wanted to keep things. It was also difficult because my dad wanted us to put tons of packing tape on each box so they wouldn't fall apart. We also had to make balls of newspaper to put in the boxes with stuff so nothing, like half eaten boxes of cheerios, would get bruised. The chametz room was an old darkroom that the photographer my parents had bought the house from had sealed off. One door, a lock, no windows. This is where we put everything. Being one of 5 brothers (I have 2 sisters as well) we would make an assembly line to gently pass the boxes from the kitchen to the landing on the basement stairs, and gently pass the boxes one by one until they could be neatly stacked from heaviest to lightest. Well, I'm proud to say we didn't let our father down as boys. I don't think any box ever got to the bottom of the basement steps without being kicked, pushed, stomped on, or otherwise tossed down the steps. I guess that's why my dad had us tape up the boxes so well. I can still hear my dad yelling at us not to throw the boxes down the steps. Not that it helped, but we did apologize each time. After we got everything (yes everything) to the basement we went to the attic to take the "pesach stuff" down from the attic. If you think tossing stuff down a flight of steps to the basement sounds fun, the real joy would start when we would open the drop down wood steps from the attic, and drop stuff to the second floor, and topple it down the steps to the first floor. Truth be told, looking back, it's a real miracle no one was ever smushed. It's also a miracle my dad would have a voice left after so much yelling and screaming at us. (And the occasional smack on the bottom). As we got the boxes of pots, pans, haggadas, and other stuff, my mother would ask us not to open everything at the same time. She needed time to open and put away one box at a time. Fat chance! My younger brother were always on the hunt for who would be the first to find the "pesachdig eggbeater". This was a great toy. It could be a helicopter, a boat engine, a propeller, well, you get the idea. This became a serious contest to get the eggbeater because you could annoy my parents by opening boxes out of sequence (not that there was any sequence, we never labeled the boxes) but we couldbeat each other up at the same time! The eggbeater looks just like the one in the picture and it's one thing I haven't got for my kids yet. Also, as I got older, I became fascinated as to what the newspaper stories were from a year ago (we used newspaper packing up too). Life does have lots of boring stories!
For more Pesach, see G6...

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Everyone has One or Your Pesach or Mine?

This post is dedicated to Achdus. Maybe it's the books on Israel I've been reading, or the impending Birchas Hachamah, but what else but Yom Tovim really bring us together? Until... OK, you get married and your are sitting at the begining of the Seder. Now, it's not like Sukkos where you are outdoing someone else with your Lulav & Esrog. On Pesach every family has it's own mishagas. Here at the Seder all bets are off. Minhagim abound, and someones toes are going to get stepped on. How can you compromise? Obviously, your family minhagim go back many generations, (likely to Mt. Sinai) and it would be against G-d himself to change or abandon your sacred traditions. Let's face it, some of you would rather have bamboo shoved under your fingernails than eat Gebrochts. Well good luck to you. I am all about adopting and incorporating. For me, I always only had one issue with Mrs. LFD's Pesach family minhagim, and that is in her house, the parents hid the Afikomen, and in my house, the kids did. The compromise? Two seders, one minhag on each night. Each of us has a rational, but as I have other minhagim her family has adopted, I've become more tolerant, and hence have attained a greater degree of Achdus. The minhagim I do at my inlaws that are tolerated:
1. Having my own Seder plate rather than a communal one at the table.
2. Singing Kadesh Urchatz in the to the tune of Manamana.
3. Glaring at whever reads the "wicked son" as if they are evil incarnate.
4. Eating a potato for Karpas (they use celery, I sneak in a boiled potato. Mrs. LFD doesn't know this, but she will now).
5. Telling boring stories about my father having a "kosher for pesach" garbage can and vacuum cleaner.
6. My personal favorite- singin Adir Hu as the Mr. Potato Head song:
Adir Hu, you know it's true,
Mr. Potato Head I made you.
Eyes & ears & a button nose too,
Mr. Potato head I made you-
Kel Benai, Kel Benai, Beyamaynu Bikarov
Kel Benai, Kel Benai, Mr. Potato Head I love you!

Having a Mr. Potato Head as part of my in-laws seder, and knowing that it has spread to my sister in laws family gives me that warm Achdusy feeling. Ah, minhagim, would we be in Galus without them?

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Lost in Translation

Apparently, Artscroll is now worthy of it's own study. VIN posts this article about a study on how Artscroll has influenced the "frum" world. I have to agree with one of the comments that most of their translations are source based, even if you don't agree with them. They do not do well with accurately portraying Gedolim. The book "My Uncle the Netziv" is a great example, as does the omission of Rav Kook from most of their references. On the whole, I don't hate them, hating anything other than microwaved broccoli is stupid. But they do walk the walk, and that is why Lakewood continues Falling Down.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Artscroll word of the week (OK, last week)

Spurious- Encarta: different from what it is claimed to be, not authentic, or not valid or well-founded

The translators are warning us not to fall into a spurious trap.

Stone Chumash Page 513 note 26

Also, this weeks Gemarah talks about the offspring between a goat and a sheep. R’Scroll uses the term hybrid vs. what I would term a crossbreed.

Hybrid- Encarta: zoology an animal that results from the mating of parents from two distinct species or subspecies.

Crossbreed – Encarta: an animal or plant produced by crossbreeding.

To each their own. Last, an unusual looking animal that can’t be used a Korbon according to R’ Scroll is a Mutant. Wolverine, apparently is unfit for the Mizbayach!

Monday, March 16, 2009

"Clothes Make The Woman" or "Can I See That Again?"

This post is inspired by SuperRaisy!

Here is part of the story. Mrs. LFD made a shidduch between a very close friend and a girl we heard about through a friend of Mrs. LFD. They are very individualistic and wanted to have the wedding on a beach. OK, the finding of a place that had a beach in the time frame that was needed took some time. But now, Mrs. LFD is on the quest of a lifetime: To find the perfect gown to wear to a beach wedding that will make her happy. Now good for me, Mrs. LFD doesn’t love shopping, but thanks to the wonders of high speed internet, I get the “can you look at this and tell me if you like it?” over and over again. Now to me, Mr. Shiny Pants, what you wear as long as it’s nice it's fine with me. But with women, it’s a lot more serious. Mrs. LFD found a nice gown in our price range online at Chadwicks. I finally thought my days of looking at women’s catalogs online were over. No. No, of course, the zipper was not sewn in properly so the quest goes on. And lucky for me online companies selling dresses update frequently, so I’m often looking at the same things and being asked, “Was that here yesterday?”, or seeing if an item has gone on or off sale. I truly sympathize with you guys who get shlepped along, and I hope Mrs. LFD finds whatever she’s looking for soon, and suggestions are always appriciated. Whatever it is, I know people will be looking at her instead of the Kallah. At least I will be…

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Harry Potter Anyone? or Kill The Beast!

In this week's Parshas Zachor haforah, we learn about Shaul being given instructions to kill out all of Amalek, even the oxen and sheep. On that Passuk, Rashi seems to be saying that the Amalekim had the ability to be Animagi, or actually use magic to turn themselves into animals to hide, hence the need to kill the animals to complete the mitzvah. Huh, and I though Harry Potter was just a fun fantasy book...

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Triangle Man

Well, it's the classic and only shape on a hamentash, the triangle. Does anyone know the source for Haman having worn a triangle hat? And was his theme song Triangle Man? (yeah I know it's really particle man).