May 30, 2017

About Henny Machlis a"h

I haven't even gotten halfway through the book and I'm writing a review. I've written about Henny Machlis before, here because the author of the book, Sara Yoheved Rigler, wrote articles about her on years ago.

Rigler is an excellent writer and the subject of this book is a Brooklyn girl who went to Central and grew up modern-frum as most religious American Jews did in the 60's. But she wanted more and she undertook more careful observance of mitzvos. It's her personality though, her love for Jews, her ability to make anyone feel comfortable, her "good eye" that saw only good in people, that comes across most powerfully.

Even if we are not like Henny in personality, which I'm not, we can all adopt some aspects of her good middos. Whether it came easy for her or not, and some things she worked on, it wasn't all a gift, we can stretch, as she did, to do chesed and serve Hashem.

May 29, 2017

If It Feels Good

In Inyan magazine #952, Rabbi Zecharya Greenwald writes, "Children today, by and large, have replaced the concept of "good and evil" with 'comfortable and uncomfortable.' Not that they do not want to do what is right; on the contrary, they very much desire to do what is correct. How then do they "know" what is the right thing to do? They see how it feels. If it "feels good," it is good, and if it "feels bad," it must be bad."

I wonder whether this comes from "safety" talks with kids, in which children are told that if someone does something that makes them feel uncomfortable, that's not good and they should leave immediately and report it.

May 22, 2017

Family Mission

Yisroel Besser in a Mishpacha article asks the question, what does your family stand for. Answers might include: chesed, Torah study, hospitality, kiruv etc.

I think the question is an interesting one. I hadn't thought of that idea before, that a family might stand for anything. Aren't we all trying to be good Jews, doing mitzvos, learning Torah, celebrating Shabbos and Yom Tov?

But just like a person who is shomer mitzvos might have a particular mitzva that is dear to him, that he excels in (Gemara Shabbos 118b - Avuch bameh havah zahir tfei? What was your father punctilious in observing?), so too, a family can collectively have their specialty. Maybe it's Shabbos, Rosh Chodesh, being friendly to whoever we meet.

If I had to say what it was in the family I grew up in, I would say an inquiring mind, learning, asking questions, thinking for yourself.

May 19, 2017

Bird Sighting

Right outside my window, on the ledge, was a bird that looked like this:

I was quite sure it was a female cardinal and I checked online and I was right. I knew the male cardinal is bright red, like this:

It was a thrill to see this not-very-common bird a few inches away from me. It did not seem to know I was there, on the other side of the glass. I'm used to seeing pigeons and sparrows, some starlings. A cardinal sighting was a treat!