Aug 31, 2015

No Title

A girl a year out of seminary gets married.  She is in the middle of pursuing an education for a profession, so she can support her husband's Torah study, and has two years of schooling to go. 

Mazal Tov.  She has a baby ten months later.

Ten days after the birth, she is back in school.  Five days a week.  All day. With travel time.

It's bein ha'zemanim, husband can help with the baby.  Grandma can help out.

Two months after the birth, the baby is at a babysitter all day.  First at the morning babysitter, then at the afternoon babysitter.  The father takes his baby from one sitter to the other.

I will restrain myself.  I think the facts speak for themselves.

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Aug 30, 2015

Fat Exercise Instructor

If an exercise instructor gives a good class, would their appearance, i.e. weight matter to you? Would you be turned off if you hired a personal trainer and an overweight person showed up but they did their job well?

There was a situation in which an instructor was laid off because of weight.  People are not motivated by fat instructors, thinking - if that's how the instructor looks WITH exercise, well ...

I'm undecided.  If I really liked the class, then of course, I would be sorry to see the instructor leave, but I can see that people would be perturbed by a heavy exercise instructor.

Aug 26, 2015

Spaced Repetition

In the same book, Brain Rules, that I referred to a few posts ago, I found the section on how to successfully memorize something interesting.  What's needed is "spaced repetition."

It is better to space your review of the material than to squeeze all the repetitions together.  As he puts it, "Learning occurs best when new information is incorporated gradually into the memory store."

It has been shown that we forget so much in the first hour or two after being exposed to something.  The way to lessen this loss is by deliberate repetitions.

There is more information about this, if you are interested.  It is something that ought to be taught in school so students know that cramming doesn't work well and so that they can best retain the information they work hard to memorize.

Aug 25, 2015

A Painful Consolation

A woman described a shiva call that was paid to her mother who had lost a child.  The visitor attempted to console the mourner by noting the rest of her large family.  The bereaved mother did not appreciate this nechama which seemed to say she could manage without her child because she had other children.

I pointed out that what the woman said was correct.  The bereaved mother did not like hearing it because it seemed to imply that her other children could make up for her loss when she felt that her child was irreplaceable.  But, I said, consider Mrs. Shoshana Greenbaum of the Sbarro bombing.

Shoshana got married late in life and was expecting her first child when she was murdered in Sbarro's.  She was an only child.  Unlike the mother described at the beginning of this post, Shoshana's mother had lost her one and only child who was carrying her first and only grandchild.  With Shoshana's death, she was left with nothing.  No children, no continuity.  It was truly a nechama to the woman with other children that she had other children.

Aug 24, 2015

Words for Food

I may have heard this idea in a shiur many years ago.  It's been so long, I don't remember.  Here is a list of roots and words related both to food as well as to war and destruction:

1) ochel - food אוכֶל 
 consume "והסנה איננה אֻכָּל" - and the burning bush was not consumed

2) milchama - war, bread מלחמה, לחם

3) טרף - sustenance and tearing
Tehillim: "טרף נתן ליראיו"
"טרף טרף יוסף" - like an animal that is treif

4) mazon - sustenance מזון
klei zayin - weapons כּלי זַייִן

5) shever - שבר referring to food and breaking
food: Yaakov said, "יש שבר במצרים"

6) michyeh - food, for it  provides life chai מחיה
and to eradicate, as in the mitzvah of destroying Amalek: מחיית עמלק

So why do eating and destruction share roots? We do consume our food and we are called consumers, so the concept exists in English too.  But how come in Lashon Ha'Kodesh, there are many roots that mean both food and destruction?

Aug 23, 2015

Succos in China!

A full page ad in a frum magazine lets us know that if you find Eretz Yisrael boring, and don't want to go to some ho-hum location for Succos, and if staying at home is not even something you would consider, then China might just be the place for you.*

You will definitely have unique Chol Ha'Moed excursions.  Tired of the aquarium and the zoo? Don't want to go to another amusement park or apple picking? Not interested in a concert, slide show or the newest frum movie production? Think just hanging out in your succa (fulfilling a mitzvah thereby) is not exciting enough?

Well, the Great Wall of China with BBQ dinner is something different.

*for the sake of accuracy, it's not the ad said that outright; the ad just advertised Succos in China

Aug 21, 2015

The Ten Minute Rule

In the book Brain Rules, there is a section on attention.  The author states, contrary to popular belief, we cannot successfully multi-task.  Yes, we can do things like walk and talk at the same time, because neither activity requires much of our attention, or just the talking does.  And yes, a pianist can play different notes with their right and left hands simultaneously; they are trained to do that.

But we cannot successfully work on a writing assignment while playing a computer game and listening to music and talking/texting.  This is because we cannot do those thing simultaneously and so we keep going from one activity to the next, each time having to refocus our attention.  More mistakes are made and it takes much longer to complete a task this way.

Even more interesting to me is his 10 minute rule. The most common mistake made by teachers-professors-lecturers is conveying too much information with not enough time to digest the material. Medina, the author, asks every college class he teaches: When do you start looking at the clock in a class of medium interest.  The answer is 10 minutes.  Medina developed a model for giving a lecture which goes like this:

Every lecture consists of 10 minute segments. Each segment covers a single core concept which is explainable in 1 minute.  A 50 minute class would teach 5 large concepts.  The other 9 minutes of each segment is used to discuss the core concept in detail.  Each detail needs to be easily related back to the core concept, and the teacher needs to spell this out because you don't want the audience to have to multi-task.

When 10 minutes are up, the speaker needs to do something to gain another 10 minutes of the audience's attention.  He calls them "hooks."  Hooks need to trigger an emotion: fear, happiness, nostalgia, incredulity.  They need to be relevant, not just a random joke. Hooks need to either relate to the previous material or introduce the next 10 minute segment.

Next time you listen to a shiur-lecture-class, notice how you react.  Does your interest start waning after ten minutes? How do your favorite speakers (the ones who teach, not tell stories) hold your attention?

Aug 20, 2015


A girl's shidduch resume was sent to a mother of a boy.  The girl seemed to be what the mother of the boy was looking for, for her son, and the girl was in town!

Within hours of sending off the resume, the mother of the boy said no to the idea.  Why? She was out of town and would let me know the following week.

The following week she explained that since the parents of the girl were divorced, and it would have required extra research, and it was complicated, she declined.

Divorced!? They are not divorced!

What?! But it says in the resume that the father is in Miami and the mother is in Detroit!

No it doesn't! The fact that it says "Miami" in parentheses after the father's name is to indicate that that is where he is from, not that he is currently living there! In fact, the very next line says where he works and it's in Detroit, where he lives with the mother in an intact home!

Oh! But the resume does not say (from Miami).  It says (Miami).  Can you see why I thought they were no longer married?

Yes, but ... I would have said if they were divorced! And I had looked at that resume and did not think anything untoward by (Miami).

Divine providence strikes again.  For some reason, she was meant to misread the resume and say no at that time.  She can still revisit the idea, but the suggestion at that time was definitely off.

Aug 16, 2015

What's the Difference?

The parallels are obvious.

In this treaty the US wants to make with Iran, we are dealing with:
people we can't trust
people known to sponsor terrorism
people who say we are evil.

No different than when Israel makes treaties with:
people they can't trust
people who have tried killing them again and again
people who say Israel is evil and needs to be eradicated.

So why does Netanyahu scream about the treaty the US wants with Iran when he and Israeli prime minister after prime minister, do the very same thing he screams about?

Aug 4, 2015

Ha, ha

At the end of a talk given by R' Benzion Shafier of "The Shmuz," he said:

"All the shmuzin are available on  Don't go on the Internet.  If you do, go  Don't get a Smartphone.  Don't do it! It's not smart, it's dumb.  But if you do, get theshmuz app.  It's available for the iphone and the android."

The audience laughed.

No comment necessary.