Starting school is always an interesting time for students and even teachers. This is one of my all-time favorite back to school commercials:
Notice the looks of the kids, it’s priceless.
This Monday was the second of Elul and it was the first anniversary of my father in law’s passing. Here are a few words I said at the meal Sunday night. Additionally I have uploaded an audio file in case anyone wants to hear my voice made for silent films.
In the past week’s parsha the phrase במקום אשר יבחר הי is repeated 16 times. As we all know the place hashem chose was ירושלים and more specifically the בית המקדש. As an aside I heard in the name of הרב יוסף דוב Soloveitchik something interesting about this. Say you were living in ירושלים while the בית המקדש was standing, what was the atmosphere like because you had the שכינה as your neighbor? Rav Soloveitchik explains that although you would think there would be awe and fear it was more a calming experience. It was like having a neighbor that could always rely upon and to borrow a cup of sugar when needed. What is interesting about this is the word שכינה and the Hebrew word for neighbor שכן have the same root letters.
As we are sadly aware, we no longer have the בית המקדש (may we see it speedily rebuilt in our days) there are several places we can make a mini-בית המקדש. Of course one place is a shul like the one we are in now. The other one is the home and there are reminders everywhere. The fact we use salt on our bread after making a hamotzie and the how we consider the table a mizbaech are just two examples of this. I think this is something the shver, הניך משה זאב בן לייב, excelled at. The fact he was able to teach his children Torah and to see them grown and now to transmitting those lessons to their children is a testament of his success in raising his children.
I remember a conversation I had with the shver and he mentioned a story to me where a child was in his house and the child asked him if his house was the בית המקדש. I can’t remember the context of this statement but the statement always stood out to me.
Additionally just like the בית המקדש where there was music played by the levim the shver always had a song on his mind and loved to sing with his children and grandchildren.
Finally, this coming week is parshas Shoftim and that always reminds me of a conversation the shver and I had. I have a question which I have not been able to resolve. In the parsha it mentioned that a judge is not allowed to take a bribe. However this is mentioned earlier is Sefer Shemos. Why is it necessary for the Torah to repeat this? We discussed this for at least an hour and were not able to come up with an answer.
As with the first book of the series, Bloodrush, I received a review copy of Ben Galley’s new novel Bloodmoon. Writing the middle book of a trilogy that is interesting is not an easy feat. With Bloodmoon Galley has accomplished that feat and accomplished it well.
Galley kept the characters from the first book fresh and in circumstances which made me want to continue reading. Additionally, the plot moved along at a good pace and there were more scenes in England, which was something I was looking for in the first book.
Bloodmoon is a fitting successor to the first book and I am looking forward to its conclusion whenever that may be published. Like with the first book I have purchased a copy from Amazon to go along with my review copy because I believe that indie authors need to be paid for their work.
I would highly recommend this book to anyone who likes fantasy.
Last week the organization YAFFED (Young Advocates for Fair Education) asked the New York City Board of Education to investigate 39 yeshivas to determine if they are providing an adequate English education. This has caused a debate in the areas like Boro Park and Flatbush about English education. One Orthodox mother even wrote an opinion piece about why she wants the yeshivas to be probed.
I think there are some important points to make without the use of hyperbole.
As a English Language Arts and History teacher in a yeshiva I can tell you that things are not good. There are several reasons why this is the case. First off the students do not seem to care about the classes. I am not sure why this is the case. The parents I speak with seem to care about their children’s education. I don’t think the kids get it from the parents. Maybe, you ask, their rebbaim are fostering this attitude? I like to think I work hand in hand with the rebbaim and from what I have heard from them, they impress the importance of English subjects.
Then there is the time issue. The students have a long day. They arrive at 8:00am and are there until 5:15pm. Of that time the students have 2 hours of English. I have the students for an hour a day, Monday – Thursday. I’m teaching two subjects per day for roughly 30 minutes per subject. That does not include time taken for housekeeping, principal visits, stopping for disturbances, and the like. A period in a usual school is 45 minutes; I’m losing two hours per week of teaching time. This is a large amount of time for them not to be learning English subjects.
How can we get our students a better secular education? Extending the day isn’t going to work because the students are there long enough as it is and trying to keep them under control at the end of the day is hard enough already. The only other option, unpopular as it may be, is to extend the amount of time spent of secular studies. I would propose having the secular part of the day at about 2:00pm this would give 3 hours of teaching time for the subjects. I know it’s not a lot but it’s making the best of a bad situation.
The number of potential Republican Party candidates up to 16. There are some people and publications that have called having so many candidates as a “clown car“. However I feel that just like in 2008 when there were 10 Democratic candidates before the primaries started that this really much ado do about nothing.
The last time I checked the Constitution of the United States1 there is nothing there stating you are not allowed to have more than a specific number of candidates. All is says it the person who is President of the United States needs to be certain age and a U.S. citizen. Therefore, anyone who meets those two requirements is allowed to be considered for the position of President of the United States.
Something else we need to consider is that these are the candidates who have declared before the primaries and caucuses have started. A good number of these candidates will not be able to make it to the primaries because of the lack of fundraising. I can guarantee you that the whole group won’t be around by the time the Iowa Caucus happens in February. In essence they are not running for the presidency but they are running to get a cabinet position.
Moreover, I think a good number of people and publications who are doing this are letting their bias show2. Personally, I don’t think there is anything wrong with being biased. We all have our biases3 an if we just admit where our biases are people can then judge the information they presented in a fair manner. Just trying to act neutral as the press does is really the wrong way to do get it done.
Once upon a time there was a highly regarded Third Base prospect by the name of Aramis Ramirez. He was in the Pittsburgh Pirate organization. He was called up and started his career going 0 for 22. He broke that streak with a double against the Mets and the fans gave him a standing ovation. He had a decent career for the Pirates until one day (7/23/03) he was traded for financial reasons.
Well after an exile in Chicago and then Milwaukee he is back with the Pirates. He is going to retire at the end of the season and it’s good to see him come full circle. I’m not usually one to toot my own horn but I think I called this one on Sunday:
As you can see from my tweet, I think he would be a decent replacement at First Base but it sounds like he’ll be playing third replacing the injured Josh Harrison. Hopefully he will continue his hot hitting for the Pirates.
Around October of this year there will be a new version of Apple’s iOS, the ninth version. However will all the innovation Apple has put in the app, there is one basic function missing the ability to attach files.
I don’t know about anyone else out there but sending emails with attachments is important, especially when you are mobile. There are plenty of scenarios where attaching a file is necessary. I have a real life example that happened to me this past month. One of my day jobs is teaching 7th and 8th grades American History and English language subjects. One of my classes failed a history test. I mean the entire class, not one student got close to passing the test. To help the students study for the retest I had to email the principal the sheets the test was based on. This was easy with my current email client of choice (Outlook). I just selected the file from Dropbox and sent it off to the principal.
It would be wonderful if everyone would understand how the cloud works and just be able to send a link from the Dropbox app. However this isn’t the cast and there are may people out there who don’t understand the concept of the cloud. It is examples like this that explain why attaching files is still important.
Attaching files in an email is important even in this day and age. It’s not killing Apple by not having the feature included, but I’m having a hard time understanding why Apple still does not have a basic feature included.
I have spoken previously about my personal experiences with Amazon’s customer support and how I feel they make every effort to make the customer happy . In the almost two years since my post, I can say I have never been let down any time I have called.
Here is another example of how one customer service rep was really cool and made the customer happy.
A few observations about this exchange:
1) Any comic book or mythology geek is now dying to talk with this representative.
2) It would not surprise me if Thor has been hearing this for a while, maybe since he was a teenager.
Over the last two days of Passover, Apple starting allowing people to come into their stores and trying on the AppleWatch. People are also able to pre-order the watch from Apple’s web site. Back in January I posted why I think the AppleWatch will be popular but it’s not for me. There are already reviews out about the watch and lots of people are posting their experiences about trying on the watch. Most of theses have been positive experiences.
It’s good to have differing opinions, this way you know what to look for. In the end, I agree with what Dave Mark said at The Loop. If you are interested schedule some time and see it for yourself. At that point make the decision which is right for you.
The technology we have at our disposal these days is truly amazing. We are able to recover ancient Jewish manuscripts which were once long forgotten or heavily censored. We are also living in an age where Torah is more accessible to everyone and there are many people studying Torah, Orthodox and non-Orthodox Jews alike. As an example of this there I know of many non-Orthodox Jews who are studying Daf Yomi on a daily basis.
What happens when a modern publisher decides something isn’t up to today’s standards and considers them a forgery and edits these commentaries? This is something we are starting to see in the Jewish community. Recently there have been two examples of publishers making changes to texts without any notice.
The first example of this started late last year when Artscroll released its new Mikros Gadolos Chumash (5 books of Moses). In this new edition, Artscroll edited the commentary of Rabbi Shmuel Ben (son of) Mier (aka RASHBAM). They were called out by the Seforim Blog. To their credit Artscroll did reply and say they believe that edition of Rashbam was a forgery. The Seforim Blog didn’t like this response but in my opinion they are in their right to believe it’s a forgery. My big issue with Artscroll is that this whole kerfuffle could have been avoided if they would have just mentioned this somewhere in the introduction. The fact hey didn’t do that shows a lot of hubris on their part and it’s something which needs to be watched.
The other example of this is from a relatively new publisher, Oz Vehadar. According to the Daattorah blog they are being accused of editing texts from various commentators. They too have responded to the criticism and you can read the entire exchange (it’s all in Hebrew) and make your own decisions.
I think this shows the power that blogs can have in bringing these kind of issues to the public eye. I am sure the majority of publishers out there aren’t doing these kinds of changes. However these two examples makes me wonder who is watching the watchers?