Thinking out loud

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  • in reply to: Anyone use Soncino Gemara? #1228463
    Thinking out loud

    One more note:

    This entire time, it never occured to me to simply Google “Soncino Shas”. I just did. Entire sets are available for sale on both Amazon and Ebay for hundreds of dollars. Individual volumes are also listed. It can also be purchased in digital form for Kindle or other electronic media. Apparently there is a market for it.

    I followed some of the other results of my google search. It is obvious that as I suspected, some of those interested in a translated Shas, do not believe that Torah Sheb’al Peh was given together with Torah Shebichtav. Therefore, a concise translation can create an “open season” for understanding the gemara in any way a person is so inclined. I suppose that is why I hesitated before deciding to give away the Shas in the way that I did.

    in reply to: Anyone use Soncino Gemara? #1228462
    Thinking out loud

    Mission accomplished!

    @ Geordie613, you got a laugh out of me !

    Sorry, you missed the live feed!

    I suspect that 5ish’s name was inspired by Oorah, but who knows?!

    @ Joseph, sorry, I just can’t resist: Smooth, no complications, B”H. Mom and baby are doing well!

    In tribute:

    After leaving yeshiva, my father z”l learned daf yomi, possibly 7 cycles. He had a daily chavrusa, I’m not sure before or after Shacharis. And he had a daily shiur in the morning, which he NEVER missed. He also was a faithful attendee to a large nightly shiur on the daf that has developed in Boro Park. I know he reviewed the gemara a number of times throughout the day. He definitely reviewed it on the train during his commute to and from work.

    Like many in his field, my father carried an attache case… which was basically empty, aside from his lunch! But there was ALWAYS a Gemara in there. I didn’t look at the publishing date, but I would say it’s fair to assume he purchased the Soncino translation as soon as he could afford it! He likely was always looking for resources to enhance the clarity of whatever he was learning.

    My father had degrees in Mathematics, Physics and Operations Research. Let’s just say he was blessed with high intelligence. Therefore, I’m sure the latin abbreviations were not a problem. He did move on to the Artscroll as it became available, for a number of reasons.

    (The fact that it is a concise, literal translation leaves the Soncino edition vulnerable to being learned incorrectly, despite the expertise of the translators and Editor. Our Mesora is that the oral Torah was meant to be learned orally, passed down from father to son, Rebbi to talmid. It was only written down because it was in danger of being forgotten once we were in Golus. There are cryptic passages, and there is much room for confusion, in order to ensure that it will always need to be learned from a Rebbi, with mesorah).

    My family was resigned to the fact that with the proliferation of the Artscroll edition, my father’s Soncino Shas had finished its mission on this Earth. I figured there’s a big world out there, so I kept it in the back of my mind, trying to think of a way to offer it to an appropriate place. One day, the YWN coffee room popped into my head: There are often discussions here that demonstrate that some very learned people, with diverse backgrounds come here to chill.

    It is my fervent hope that this Shas will continue to be learned according to the guidelines of our mesora.

    Have a refuah shelaima 5ish.

    May you have much Hatzlocha, and Siyatta D’shmaya in your learning.

    in reply to: Anyone use Soncino Gemara? #1228458
    Thinking out loud


    refuah shelaima

    in reply to: Anyone use Soncino Gemara? #1228454
    Thinking out loud

    Anyone want to give their 2 cents on whether or not the boxes get delivered to Touro this morning?!

    in reply to: Anyone use Soncino Gemara? #1228451
    Thinking out loud

    I hope 5ish has seen my last post…

    in reply to: Anyone use Soncino Gemara? #1228450
    Thinking out loud

    Someone will probably be able to drop off on Tuesday (tomorrow) before noon. Does that work?

    in reply to: What's a Bungalow Colony? #1219101
    Thinking out loud

    Daas Yochid, thank you for that amusing summary!

    Personally, I don’t think it resembles ANY other world or country. It’s almost a 3rd world planet!!! With a bit of its own language and syntax, and a unique approach to family living! It’s difficult to understand the system of government. Everyone does whatever they want. Sort of. But it’s not anarchy. There are rules. Or maybe it’s more correct to say standards. But you have to be a part of it to know what they are. The year-round locals have a regular American system. It’s the “country” constituency that live by different unwritten charters. Which sometimes creates, ummm, inter-planetary friction! (Perhaps it’s fair to say that Hatzolah is the only accepted governing institution!?!?!)

    Also, it wouldn’t be “the country” without modern familiar traffic jams on Route 42, complete with the requisite Honda Odysseys, and Toyota Siennas not found in 3rd world countries. And don’t forget the FOOD resources. There’s way more up there than in a bunch of 3rd world countries combined!

    We all LOVE the parking situation in Brooklyn from the end of June until Labor Day! That’s how working people know it’s the Summer!!!

    in reply to: Anyone use Soncino Gemara? #1228446
    Thinking out loud

    5ish: I just got a little… I don’t know, uneasy.

    You are 100% correct, and your plain and simple response is kind of what I was hoping for. It wouldn’t have impressed me if somebody really posted something in learning. Cut and paste is pretty simple. Like I said, other posters have a history here, so one can get a general idea what hashkafa they consistently present. But yes, unfortunately there really are apikorsim who learn gemora, in order to back up kefira. I would consider that inappropriate.

    I discovered that fact a while back, while looking at Tovia Singer’s website, in which he directly confronts,challenges, and dismantles Jews for J.

    So, in response to my questions above… I assume you mean main Brooklyn Campus. Are there days of the week that are more practical than others? Or even times of the day? I know nothing about the schedule there.

    @Lightbrite, there is a limit to how much I can do. I would have preferred to put it in an appropriate Beis Medrash, so it could be used by more people. However, in all this time, nobody else has professed interest, or made a reasonable suggestion. Even one individual’s Torah learning is very powerful. I made an attempt to trigger any sort of response. The lack of defensiveness or attempt to prove anything, says a lot!

    in reply to: Anyone use Soncino Gemara? #1228443
    Thinking out loud

    OK. We are ready to drop off these boxes containing the Soncino Shas, I just need some particulars:

    Who will be using them?

    Exactly where should they be dropped off?

    How do I ensure that they get to the proper destination?

    Did I scare away 5ish?!? It shouldn’t be that hard to post something lomdish that reflects a person’s seriousness and familiarity with traditional learning! Most posters have posted things over time, that gives a general idea about their attitude.

    Even in Popa Bar Abba’s disclaimer that nothing he says can be taken seriously, he makes an exception when it comes to comments that refer to halacha.

    in reply to: Anyone use Soncino Gemara? #1228441
    Thinking out loud

    @ LUL, I never quite chapped either. It was confusing! I’m using adult thinking to describe some sort of blur between reality and imagination!!

    Thank you Lightbrite for the tip about adding dashes. It works.

    Anyway, UPDATE: The gemaras are currently packed into 4 wine boxes. (The size of a Kedem box that holds six 1.5 liter bottles). IRL!

    in reply to: What's a Bungalow Colony? #1219073
    Thinking out loud

    Yehudayonas description is quite accurate! There’s an entire culture that surrounds this phenomenon.

    I will paint a more descriptive picture for you:

    A bungalow is a (very) small and simple dwelling. I wouldn’t say it’s a shack, but it’s a pretty basic set-up: Built of wood, un-insulated, with a small kitchen with appliances that may actually date back to the 1950’s. 1, 2 or even three Bedrooms (Very large bungalow)and often a porch that is enclosed with screens. Shared kitchens probably were prevalent in the 1950’s and ’60s; I think today each would have their own. The inside of the bungalow is for sleeping and keeping your stuff dry!

    The idea is, you are going there so the kids can freely play outdoors in relative safety compared to the city. Also, Brooklyn, aside from not having much in the way of grass and trees, is hot and humid in the summer. The bungalow colonies are situated in an area that has a higher elevation, and therefore cooler temperatures. There is almost always a swimming pool with a solid mechitza, with separate hours for men and women. Sometimes there is a basketball, or racket ball court or other amenities on the premises. There is a laundry room (shack) with coin-operated washers and dryers. Most also offer a small day camp program for younger children; from age 2 up to about 10 or so. There is usually also some sort of communal building which doubles as a shul. During the week, there may not be a minyan of men, But from Friday through Sunday, there are plenty of fathers/husbands around. And more separate-swim hours for men.

    The properties are grassy, surrounded by natural forests, that certainly are home to wildlife native to the area. They are owned by private individuals, or small groups. The owners rent out the bungalows to individuals – usually family oriented – for the summer months when the Jewish schools are closed. This period is from the last week(s) of June until the end of August, or even until Labor Day. Some colonies are owned by a particular organized community, in conjunction with their own set of schools and shuls in the New York City area.

    A bungalow colony can have anywhere from 10 to a few hundred bungalows. Usually a few families that are acquainted will rent bungalows in the same colony. Additionally, the same friends will often repeat their specific arrangement for many Summers. It is common for a larger group to develop with adults and children that become quite tightly knit friends, having spent many Summers together, (in tight quarters) and maintaining their relationships throughout the year, sharing occasions such as weddings and other simchas.

    These days, there are less and less of the type of bungalow structures I described. Many colonies have become co-ops, with individuals owning their own bungalows. Some of these slowly get more modernized, and expanded to include additional rooms, and are even “winterized”. New appliances, proper floors, private washers and dryers are added. So it develops into a very basic Summer home. There are “colonies”, that were first built in the last 25 years, in which the bungalows are really basic houses, with modern amenities, electricity, heating and air-conditioning. In a different setting, you would just refer to it as a housing development. With very small, quaint houses.

    But there are quite a few hold-outs of the basic dwellings I described above, which you would see if you drive down the roads in the area of the Catskill Mountain Region being referred to. Most of these places are in towns or townships close to a stretch of Route 17 in South Eastern New York State. There are some additional areas a bit farther North East within the Catskill Mountain Region.

    The colonies are largely in the same areas where most of the religious Jewish Summer camps are located. There are a number of Lakes in the area too, some of which offer rowboat, canoe, and even speedboat rentals. Since this is the Yeshiva World News website, I am describing the set-up (and culture) in the Yeshivish/Chassidish world. There definitely are additional bungalow colonies and co-ops where the crowd is modern orthodox, and may be in areas I am not familiar with. But the non-religious crowd has pretty much abandoned this destination.

    There are also flourishing commercial businesses; mostly small supermarkets, that have sprung up in the area for the Summer months. There are Brooklyn based pediatricians who have opened offices in the area, all but moving their entire medical practices to the area for the Summer months. Some of the towns have a commercial street with a few stores, which likely includes a Pizza Shop and/or Ice Cream Parlor. In the Summer, the emergency volunteer corps, Hatzolah has a full fledged division operating up there. For safety reasons, they have actually created a fairly accurate map listing and locating almost every known bungalow colony and summer camp. There are a few towns that are actually home to local residents all year long. (They live in normal houses). National chains such as Walmart, Walgreens and Supermarkets exist in those towns. These are highly popular destinations when it rains!

    One humorous note you have to know to be an insider:

    For some reason, many people who speak primarily Yiddish, actually call these bungalow colonies “countries”. That evolved from the term countryside, which morphed into the country, as in “for the summer, we go to the country”. This further evolved among some Yiddish speaking groups, to simply call the individual colony where they rent their bungalow, ‘the country’. If you follow this logic, there are numerous bungalow colonies which some people actually call “countries”. If you go into a kosher grocery up there, a friendly person may seriously inquire “Which country are you in?”!!!!

    in reply to: Anyone use Soncino Gemara? #1228439
    Thinking out loud

    addendum to my comment above in regard to 5ish:

    The anonymity of the Coffee Room has a crucial role in its maintaining its usefulness. But it gets a little weird when it crosses into real life!

    For those who understand this analogy; it’s kind of like going from Mr. Roger’s “Land of make believe”, back to the regular toy train set in his house! (I’m remembering something from when I was in pre-school; my parents moved the TV out into our garage by the time I was in first grade. From there it eventually disappeared.)

    This quirk it also exhibited in Shopping613’s thread about her discussion in Seminary.

    in reply to: Anyone use Soncino Gemara? #1228437
    Thinking out loud

    @ yehudayona, yes we are on the same page about Pinter’s. My comment was meant to elaborate on yours, not to belittle it!

    in reply to: Anyone use Soncino Gemara? #1228435
    Thinking out loud

    @5ish I am hoping to get the boxes tomorrow. My previous comment was made to explain that I’d appreciate some more reassurance, not that I have any specific suspicions.

    I re-read my post, and it looks a bit harsh, so I wanted to clarify!

    in reply to: PSA – Do thorough research before making public halachic statements #1215749
    Thinking out loud

    Just a note about Rabbi Dovid Ribiat’s sefer on hilchos Shabbos.

    Although it may look intimidating, as it is a set of 4 volumes, I would highly recommend it. It is very well written and highly organized, with a very detailed index. In addition, as mentioned above, each volume is really one half of its size for the average reader. That is because one half of each volume is actually an exposition on hundreds of footnotes, written in Hebrew, for the more advanced scholar. He calls those entire sections “Migdal Dovid”.

    I never “went through it” from beginning to end, but I use it for reference all the time. It is very clear on most topics, with a methodical approach to the halachic process on any area of the laws of Shabbos. Rabbi Ribiat gives many, many, contemporary examples, with the added bonus of explanatory illustrations where something may be confusing. He also adds a wealth of interesting information, useful to most readers, in connection to pertinent topics. (His sefer was the first place I saw mention of “scale insects” that look like innocent small bumps on the outside of oranges, attached to the peel)

    Incidentally, Rabbi Ribiat’s full name is actually David Shmuel, and almost all of those detailed illustrations are his own.

    in reply to: Anyone use Soncino Gemara? #1228432
    Thinking out loud

    Thanks for the clarification, lightbrite! His name comes up as “user not found”, though, so I am unable to read his previous posts. Perhaps it wasn’t his original name?

    I’ve mostly been a lurker, commenting rarely, but I haven’t been here for quite a while until I started this thread.

    in reply to: Anyone use Soncino Gemara? #1228430
    Thinking out loud

    OK, I checked:

    There are 27 volumes, Bound in Dark Red covers. Each volume is approximately 8 x 12 1/2 inches, with varying thicknesses. We will have to get appropriate boxes (probably from a wine store) to properly pack them up without being too heavy to carry.

    @5ish: It appears that you created your account to comment on this thread, so I can’t read any comments you have made previously. I would like to be more convinced that the Shas is actually going to be used appropriately! eg. I’m not looking to donate them to any entity that promotes female rabbas, or Bible criticism.

    @Neville ChaimBerlin: Apparently you have been blocked. I hope it was not as a result of an inappropriate comment on this thread.

    in reply to: Anyone use Soncino Gemara? #1228428
    Thinking out loud

    I will B”N go over to the house, and see what’s involved in packing it up.

    I will try to keep you posted.

    in reply to: Anyone use Soncino Gemara? #1228426
    Thinking out loud

    5ish, I will find out if that is a possibility. You understand we’re talking about an entire set of Shas. They have not been packed up yet, so I don’t know how many boxes would be involved, or how heavy they would be.

    I can’t imagine Touro would allow for a few boxes of Books to sit unnoticed in their lobby?!

    How do I know the whole thing won’t be disposed of by security, or a custodian in the building?? It’s not like a shul or Beis Medrash, where holy books are recognized and treated as such by default….

    Did you ever see a sign that said “NO DUMPING”? It’s a reminder that you may not leave your unwanted stuff on somebody else’s private property! I think this may be an example of that!

    What are your thoughts about my concerns?

    in reply to: Anyone use Soncino Gemara? #1228424
    Thinking out loud

    Apologies for my delay in responding.

    The Gemaras are in Brooklyn, NY

    I posted here because Pinter’s doesn’t seem like a likely destination for someone who appreciates the Soncino. I can leave it there, and it will end up in Shaimos. I am looking for it to get used!

    in reply to: Anyone use Soncino Gemara? #1228418
    Thinking out loud

    We have a full set of Artscroll, that we are keeping in the family. The Soncino will not get used.

    5ish, try to be creative.

    Is there a certain type of shul where you think it would be most appreciated? Don’t try to figure out the logistics now. YWN will not approve a post that specifies how to contact somebody….

    and that rule needs to be respected.

    in reply to: Anyone use Soncino Gemara? #1228414
    Thinking out loud

    @ 5ish or

    @ Neville ChaimBerlin

    Can either of you figure out a recommendation for a location to donate it to, being as YWN does not allow for direct communication?

    Kol hakodem zoche!

    in reply to: PSA – Do thorough research before making public halachic statements #1215720
    Thinking out loud

    I called a company that makes wheat thins, and asked them how they are made. Instead of answering me, they jumped in and told me their conclusion vis a vis the beracha. I explained that I wasn’t asking their opinion. I intended to ask my Rav. I totally trust their hashgacha for kashrus purposes, but regarding berachos, I ask a different authority.

    (many packages of bread say “birchaso: mezonons”. No Rav that I EVER asked paskened that a loaf of bread is mezonos, no matter how much apple juice is in it. I am aware that there are Rabbanim who are meikel in this area – but that’s a different topic).

    Finally, I reached a person at the company, who told me that the wheat kernels are steamed until they “pop” (like popcorn), and then pressed into forms to create the cracker-like shape. No baking or cooking takes place. I make ho-adoma on them.

    Regarding rice, as mentioned above there are disagreements about its beracha, from the outset, regardless of the finished product. Opinions on the beracha on rice vary from mezonos to ho’adoma to shehakol. This chilukei dei’os apparently affects the proper beracha on rice cakes as well.

    The current popular Seforim that deal with Berachos are written by experts on Hilchos Berachos. I would assume that one could choose which Rav he is going to follow in this area of halacha, and then follow his p’sak. The two that I am familiar with in English are written by Rav Pinchas Bodner of Lakewood, and Rav Binyomin Forst of Far Rockaway.

    Incidentally there is a halacha hotline based in the 5 towns that is under the auspices of Rav Forst. There are regular hours, as well as an emergency option for situations that can not wait, due to the nature of the sh’eila.



    in reply to: Converting to Judaism, how do I explain to family about Xmas? #1193147
    Thinking out loud

    Hello. I wish you success on your journey. It is a very noble decision, and by all accounts one that will be difficult, but certainly worth it! I hope you always are surrounded by people who respect the incredible courage it takes to obligate yourself to all that is required of a Jew.

    I highly recommend listening – don’t just read it – to this topic on the simpletoremember website, starting with the audio of Rabbi Lawrence Kelemen. I think it’s called “the real meaning of christmas” or something like that.

    I hope that by the time you actually convert, your dilemma will be expressed differently:

    Not, Is there a way I can celebrate the “non-religious, benign” traditions, but rather,

    What should I do? I don’t want to hurt my family, but I have followed my intellect, and concluded that the Torah is the absolute Truth. How do I handle situations where my belief that there is no Truth other than the Torah, could appear to be sort of, slightly, negotiable? (either overtly, or passively)

    Regardless of what secular people say, there is meaning infused in this day (even though it is a bunch of baloney, historically). It has become a celebration that claims to commemorate the birth of a movement that claims to replace the holy G-d given Torah, with a “New” arrangement. In simple terms that is heresy! It is a rebellion against what G-d said! The thought of participating should become very distasteful to you. Your intent to convert to Torah True Judaism, by definition implies that you will invest meaning into your days, one meaningful hour at a time!

    Part of the challenge that you are taking on, most likely will include upsetting family dynamics. You will have to compensate by developing other occasions to celebrate your relationship with your genetic family (as guided by a G-d fearing Rabbi). Perhaps it will mean making a very big deal about birthdays. As you stated, your decision has caused a lot of pain in your family. That is because you ARE rejecting much of their approach to life, and the underlying belief system in which they function! You are choosing truths that do invalidate theirs. Apparently you understand that following Truth, and coming closer to G-d, overrides the pain that it causes your family (which is highly commendable, as expressed clearly in Megillas Rus – The book of Ruth). Your first obligation is to your own neshama – your Jewish soul.

    Again, I wish you much success along your journey, and may you always be respected for this courageous life-changing choice. When your conversion is considered complete according to halacha, imagine my voice calling out a thunderous MAZEL TOV to you!

    in reply to: Nafsheinu Mental Health organization? #1190151
    Thinking out loud


    I appreciate your input. I am aware, and been in contact with all the agencies. This teenager needs RESIDENTIAL (not inpatient) treatment, and he needs it now. It is NOT covered.

    It’s a very serious situation…

    Typical therapy situations, no matter how they are covered is not what I’m talking about. (He IS in regular therapy).

    Yes, I have left out details. That is because I am not interested in starting a thread about what can and can not be treated.

    V’hamayvin Yavin.

    Thank you all for trying to help.

    It was a long shot, but I had to try. And I was told there was a fund specifically for high school bochurim, which he is.

    It looks like I am going to have to make some sort of campaign to raise money for this specific situation, as difficult as that is going to be, considering that everybody (non-professionals) think they know alternatives….

    HaShem Ya’azor.

    in reply to: Nafsheinu Mental Health organization? #1190147
    Thinking out loud

    thank you, but no, unfortunately, I am looking specifically for financial assistance. The program that this boy needs to go to is residential, and specific. None of the agencies on that thread deal with such intense cases. Or if they do, they unfortunately do not have a successful track record.

    Unfortunately, there is a higher percentage of well trained, experienced, and skilled therapists in the private sector.

    There may be exceptions if you get lucky, but for serious interventions, one goes to the experts.

    in reply to: Depression&torahs perspective&helpful ideas #1170050
    Thinking out loud

    @Lilmod U’lelamaid

    Unfortunately, it is not the case that someone in my “condition” would not have been able to post.

    They most certainly can and they do.

    It’s much easier to ask these questions to random people who are sitting behind a computer screen any place in the world. I was depressed. But I was not psychotic. I knew much of what was going on, I just didn’t care, so I didn’t (or couldn’t) pay attention. I was withdrawn, and had little “affect”. However, the average person in the street who did not know me previously, would not have known that. They would have (and they did), just assumed that I was a very shy and quiet person, (I guess without much personality?)

    It was only when I was in conversation with someone that my negativity would come out. And many people – even those who do know me – would say, “you’re just trying to put yourself down”. Which I translated to mean that I’m responsible for making myself miserable, and I further used against myself.

    Most of the negative things I said about myself came from a warped belief that I should be honest with people. My “logic” was something like “They think I care, and I’m misleading them by not telling that I don’t.” From my end I was just trying to describe myself honestly. Especially if they tried to tell me good things about myself. I didn’t want to be “fooling” them.

    It’s really twisted. I was extremely descriptive in my posts. What you are not realizing, is that the posts are being written when I’m B”H fine.

    Had I written them when I was not, I wouldn’t have described the parts that show how mixed up I was. I wouldn’t have said “I keep thinking about my aveiros, and how it’s terrible that I’m thinking about my aveiros, so I’m bad, and I don’t want to live, which is an aveira, and I’m doing so many aveiros…..” ad infinitum.

    I would more likely have said, for example, that “I don’t feel like doing anything, and I know I should get out and do exercise, but I just don’t want to. Does anybody know how I can get more motivated?”

    I saw some of the symptoms, but not the whole picture. Also, online, you would not have heard that there was little inflection in my voice. If you met me, and didn’t know me before, you wouldn’t know that I really have an outgoing, sometimes perky personality, but it happens to be not functioning right now.

    For a time, I volunteered, doing paperwork at an organization. I did that because I was getting different types of counseling, and in one setting, I was being told that of course I can work, I just think I can’t. I said that I wouldn’t get there on time because I don’t want to get up. So they set up this volunteer situation, and I went, sometimes 3 hours later than the official time, because I felt guilty for “not trying”. The arrangement had been that I would get there at 11 AM. I usually got there sometime after 2 PM!! It’s not like anyone was going to fire a volunteer who is doing the most boring work possible.

    For months, I worked at a desk, organizing papers, feeling like a robot. At one point the supervisor of the place, and the secretary, invited me to go out to lunch with them. I knew that they were trying to be friendly, and get to “know” me. But as far as I was concerned there was nobody to know. Because I no longer had any personality, because I no longer had any emotions. (Well really I did, but they had shut down). I couldn’t wrap my mind around the idea of enjoying each other’s company, because I didn’t remember what it felt like to enjoy anything. I just saw it as a well-intentioned waste of their money.

    So I declined. I may have even told them something along the lines that I don’t enjoy going out to eat. Which would have sounded reasonably normal to them. But afterwards, I ruminated about how ungrateful I am, when people try to be friendly, and how bad it is that I am anti-social. My mind never stopped processing everything through this crazy filter that made no sense.

    I don’t know each person’s experience of clinical depression. I have been extremely descriptive in my posts. Not everyone is as expressive as I am; both verbally and in writing. But when I describe some of this to people who have had major depression, they know what I’m talking about. So there is a commonality. There are definitely people who respond to medication. There are many, many who don’t. Also, I would bet that a lot of the medication that people are on, that does make a difference, has at least some element of anti-anxiety. My depression included a lot of anxiety. I’m sure I presented as an anxious person to the employees who saw me every day at that volunteer job. But what they saw mostly, was a shy, possibly inhibited person.

    Doctors do try all sorts of medications to try to inhibit some of the symptoms. For example, if someone is constantly ruminating, like I was, they will experiment with medications that intercept brain activity. Many medications for the more common mental illnesses were developed to treat seizures. I don’t know the statistics, but it may be even most, were discovered by accident to be having an effect on emotional disregulation. There are also substances that numb the pain. Sometimes other parts of the personality get numbed as well. For some situations, there isn’t a choice, and if there is a medication that is “working” the person seemingly needs to take it, in order to function, despite unpleasant side affects.

    There are so many classes of medicines, and each class operates from a different angle. Some medications slow down the time it takes for a “good feeling” to pass. For example, when you hear good news, you feel happy, and invigorated, and perhaps add a spring to your step. At this time, there appears to be a chemical that the brain has released (seratonin), that is spreading the good feeling. Over the following days, or hours, (depending on the degree of good news), the lightness slowly recedes back to your “normal” mood. The chemical, it appears, goes back to the brain. So there are medicines that literally are meant to block the seratonin from going back into the brain too quickly. Some people respond to such medicines. There are many, many classes. Sometimes something works for a person, and then for some reason it stops working. Sometimes a medicine that had no effect in the past, suddenly does have an effect when tried again at a different time. No doctor can claim to know why that is. There are definitely people who are taking medicine for “lowered feelings”, instead of improving their lifestyle through diet, excercise and thinking habits. On the other hand, perhaps those people do not have the psychological strength to make those changes, but they still need to be more functional to be a responsible person. So they take medication because it helps them meet their responsibilities. A psychologist might be able to help them develop the strength to make the life changes that would reduce the amount of lowered feelings they have. But that takes time. So the medicine does the job for now. The side affects are very uncomfortable, and it won’t necessarily work forever. Life changes are definitely more reliable! You can see from the above that there are connections between chemicals, experiences, behaviors, emotional pain, and habitual thought patterns. Each one has an affect on the others.

    There is so much disagreement out there about these things. There’s the well-known placebo effect. There’s the opinion that in some cases, whatever the medicine is doing, the whole point is to get the person functional enough to participate in some sort of therapy, and that is really the only thing that is going to make a real change. The one thing everyone agrees on, is that if somebody’s state of mind makes him at risk for harming himself, he needs to be hospitalized: just so he can be kept safe.

    In the beginning I went to a number of rabbonim. I don’t know if I went because I felt guilty, or for advice. I can’t always re-create the kind of thinking that I had at the time, so I’m not sure. At one point a relative took me to a very chashuve rebbe. I guess for a Beracha? I ended up telling him all the bad things that I think, and that I don’t want to do mitzvos, or something along those lines. This rebbe gave my relatives the name of a different psychiatrist that he knew of. And he advised me to read stories about tzadikim!!

    I couldn’t just “not listen” to a tzaddik, so I plodded through a number of volumes of some series, perhaps it was “Tales of tzaddikim”. The entire time that I was reading, there was a continuous dialogue going on in my mind, comparing my actions to the actions of the tzaddikim in the story, and judging myself to be a bad person. THE ENTIRE TIME. I read the words, but obviously I couldn’t have been concentrating much, because of the parallel thinking that was going on in my head. I don’t think I remembered anything that I read after I read it; unless it included a more powerful guilt producing element, that made it stand out from the rest of the guilt producing stories. It is not a happy memory, and it’s also a confusing one. Would the rebbe have suggested I read those stories if he knew that it would add to my guilt feelings, and deepen my depression? I certainly hope not. It doesn’t mean he’s not a holy person. But we are not required to believe that every Tzaddik has ruach hakodesh, and can never be mistaken. From an Emuna perspective, I believe HaShem decided I should have additional suffering. From a knowledge perspective, I think that sometimes advice that seems harmless can actually be harmful.

    I don’t claim to know the answers.

    As I’ve said before it is NOT a clear science at all.

    We speak of the mind, and we speak of the brain – there is no blood test to tell which one is at the heart of the problem!

    I have obviously not said anything about what actually did lead to my recovery. That is because it is very personal, and specific to me. I don’t think the details will help those who are reading this, and besides finding the cure for a specific case of (clinical)depression, wasn’t my goal in posting.

    There are so many different factors in each situation. Depression can be caused by medicine taken for the common cold! I’m just trying to show that when someone seems just “depressed”, and expresses it as if it’s just “lowered feelings”, they may actually really be depressed. Clinically. And it’s not always easy to tell. It can also be hard to discern if they would really benefit from activities, or if it is just a way to keep them busy, but is not helping them at all. From the perspective of some professionals, it’s probably a no-lose proposition. Either the person will do the things and feel better, or he won’t feel better. Or he won’t do the things, and then we’ll never know if they would have made him feel better. The person himself doesn’t know. But if he is having clinical depression, than almost certainly he will be berating himself for not trying, or for not trying hard enough to be motivated, or interested, or more energetic, or whatever. So there is a risk: It can increase the mental suffering, and G-d forbid cause the person to do something drastic to try to reduce their suffering.

    I think people have to be very careful what they off-handedly say and recommend to someone who says they feel depressed, or is behaving in a way that shows he isn’t feeling emotionally well. There is a need to pursue more information. One rough standard is known in some schools of thought as “F.I.D.”

    It stands for Frequency, Intensity, and Duration.

      How often is this happening?

      How intense, and disruptive is it to the person’s functioning?

      For how long has it been going on?

    If you’ve give a “pep talk” to somebody close, and the advice is taken, but the “mood” isn’t getting better, you should take note of it, and possibly even validate it. As in “I see you are doing the right things, but you aren’t feeling better. Maybe we should take a better look at this”, or “Maybe we should get some help, maybe this isn’t your fault at all. That is a possibility.”

    NEVER underestimate the request in Shemona Esrai for Chochma, Bina and Da’as (nusach sefard), a.k.a. Dei-a, Bina, V’haskel, when you are in a position of giving somebody else advice!

    It turns out that all this writing has proven to be cathartic for me. Expressing oneself in writing is usually a good thing. No matter how well I now feel, there is always residual pain. By expressing some of it again, although it brought up some of that pain, it also provided another opportunity to process some of the leftovers, and let it go. And if it prevents even one suffering person from having frustration and guilt added to the heavy burden they are already carrying, then it was worth all the sleep I missed because I sat here writing into the wee hours of the morning.

    in reply to: Depression&torahs perspective&helpful ideas #1170036
    Thinking out loud

    Lilmod Ulelamaid:

    You ask good questions. I don’t know if there’s a clear-cut answer. Actually, I know that there isn’t. Doctors ask a lot of questions to a depressed person, in order to try to figure out what’s happening.

    They don’t just “know” automatically, and sometimes they miss it big time.

    People are often not willing or even able to say what’s really going on inside. They may just say a couple of things that are going wrong, that don’t seem so deep, without expressing the intense distress that those things are causing.

    I am certain it is not an exact science.

    Sometimes medications make a difference. Often they do not. There’s a lot of experimentation, and it’s always trial and error. Anxiety medications are more predictable, I think.

    I don’t know if it’s a continuum.

    Personally, I don’t think depressive thoughts lead to clinical depression automatically, but there is definitely a progression when a person is in fact heading into a what I described, which is a major depressive episode, that it will start with mild stuff and keep growing. So it’s a symptom, not a cause. The difference can be seen – retroactively. And if a person has a history, than there is a lot more reason to pay close attention, if a “bad mood” doesn’t start to fade away when distractions are introduced.

    Just for the record, many “moody” or (what people call) “depressed” or “negative” people don’t work on their middos at all, make everyone around them miserable at times, and still don’t end up with major clinical depression! If you catch them off guard, you will see them getting enjoyment from something. Even they can see the comedy in their refusal to be positive.

    It seems that some people will never get this kind of sick. They will get other types of sick, though. For example, perhaps if I experience high levels of distress, and I ignore it, and bottle it up inside, it could end up as a physiological depression.

    Other people might have a heart attack long before they have the amount of stress/distress that accumulated in me!

    Nobody would condemn them for the heart attack!

    Well, almost nobody.

    So does that mean I have weak nerves, or that my heart is too strong?!

    It’s really hard to understand the dynamics of depression.

    As far as suicidal ideation is concerned, I think in the cases you are referring to, it’s considered a symptom. The person is in an unbearable amount of emotional pain with no clue how to make it stop. Perhaps it wouldn’t have gotten that far if they had the ability to honestly face whatever it is that they find unbearable (unacceptable), process it, and skillfully express it clearly enough to get help. Usually that is something that is taught by example, and nobody taught it to them. Often the very real fear of judgement, and rejection by others is enough to prevent them from sharing, or admitting their feelings even to themselves. That’s what therapy is often about.

    The more we make other people feel truly “safe”, to share their distress, without fear of any reprisals, or dismissiveness, the more we are doing to literally save lives.

    I don’t know if one has to be clinically depressed to be literally Terrified of rejection or judgement, and the resulting pain that they know it will cause. Really, I do not know. But severe terror is not a “bad mood” or a case of “lowered” or, as so many here insist on calling it, “depressed” feelings. Terror does sometimes cause people to do irrational things.

    Certainly, clinical depression has a high risk of suicide. That’s probably the most dangerous part of it. How does one escape from the hell inside their own head??

    I don’t know why I am even bothering to respond to RebYidd23. Maybe it’s my concern for anyone who could read what he wrote, and use it against themselves.

    IF I understood you correctly, you are saying depression is depression, just like cancer is cancer. It’s just a matter of whether or not that particular case is responsive to treatment.

    That would be a good analogy, if we didn’t claim to have an array of “tried and true” self-help solutions, and middos improvement programs to treat depression. If the depression doesn’t go away despite those suggestions, would you then say the depression was treatment resistant, or the “patient” was?? Since we have significant sources for those solutions, programs, and self-improvement ideas, it would appear that it is reasonable to expect them to work, at least a little, if the “patient” is trying.

    In fact, when it comes to the kind of “depression” that is just a mild, or more intense emotion, those things DO help! Uppers also always work with that: a good joke, or even some ice cream or chocolate gets the most resistant among us to smile, despite ourselves.

    Depression(Clinical) doesn’t usually shift much in response to a “good time” The ice cream doesn’t have much of a taste, and the chocolate is kind of flat. The person usually doesn’t find the jokes funny. The exercise is done by rote, with no enthusiasm, effort, or interest. It’s not that the middos program or the exercise isn’t working. IT ISN’T INDICATED.

    Treatment resistant Cancer is NEVER considered to be a character flaw of the patient! Actually, it’s a great example though. Because, Loshon Hara is sometimes referred to as a Cancer in our generation, correct? Does that mean that radiation can treat Lashon Hara?! No. Because it isn’t really Cancer literally. It was a metaphor.

    Even if there is a continuum, (I don’t know), there is a point where there is a drastic (not gradual) change in symptoms; behaviors, affect, appetite, personal grooming – whatever is affected, is impeded by disinterest. It has become something else. A state in which the patient doesn’t remember how to care. Even if they “try”. It feels empty and meaningless.

    For a while, I used to thank HaShem every day for the miracles of life, meaning, satisfaction, will, pleasure…. and emotions – things that I didn’t have while I was (clinically) depressed, and didn’t know that I would ever have again. Boruch HaShem I’ve gotten accustomed to normalcy. I have a range of emotions again, and I’m busy with the vicissitudes of life. I sometimes forget to be thankful.

    Which is in itself another miracle.

    in reply to: Footsteps, ?????? ?????? #1166090
    Thinking out loud

    What I meant by that is, that Project Makom will only be able to attract those who are still consciously trying to find a way to be “frum”. It addresses individuals who are challenging and questioning their way of life, usually because it is extremely unpleasant for them.

    There is a different type of situation, where the young man or woman does not care any more, or never did care about keeping the Torah. They are emotionally burned out, and no amount of intellectual understanding or reasoning provides a respite from their misery. They don’t know what they believe, nor do they care. They just want to be FREE. FREE of all rules that have been used to control them, and repeatedly prevented them from any form of self-determination. For those individuals, it is not necessarily the severity of the rules, but the very idea that someone else’s rules can prevent their happiness. And so Modern Orthodoxy does not interest them. It still has rules. It still requires submission to a halachic decisor (the Rabbi). They have become convinced that rules are arbitrarily created by people who want to control others. These individuals still need a place to figure themselves out. They need to be able to talk about ANYTHING without being judged, in order to understand themselves, and accept themselves as they are now. For the time being, any suggestion of organized religion or belief systems will elicit intense emotions, including fierce anger. I do not think exposure to other practicing Orthodox families is indicated at that stage.

    in reply to: Depression&torahs perspective&helpful ideas #1170017
    Thinking out loud

    I’m weighing in on this one. Unfortunately, there is one word currently used for two different conditions.

    When a normally functioning person has a bad day, or doesn’t feel accomplished, or has a negative interaction with a loved one, it can lead to lowered feelings. I think this is the type of depression that is addressed in most of the divrei chazal, seforim, and good advice offered.

    For some reason we use the exact same term for a seriously altered state of reality, in which the person is stuck in a cycle of negative thoughts, negative judgements, self-condemnation, lack of any motivation at all, lessened ability to enjoy normal things, like ice cream, or a cute baby, or even complete inability to experience pleasure or joy. It is termed depression. Yes, it is differentiated in professional terminology by the word clinical. But most people still refer to this state as depression without adding the word clinical. As in, he suffers from depression. Or, she had mania, and is now in a depression. Or, he shows no interest in life, or family simchas. I think he’s depressed.

    Note, the lack of that word clinical.

    That is how most people speak.

    The reason I know is because I have experienced the real deal. Full blown, life threatening, unremitting clinical depression. It did not respond to medicine. It did not respond to exercise. Music made it worse. I tried to read Rabbi Pliskin’s book, and ended up throwing it across the room. Then I condemned myself for not trying. I avoided people to the best of my ability. My mind was stuck in a never ending circular thought loop, that went from thoughts of my sins, to thoughts of my punishments, to thoughts of wanting to die, to thoughts of that being a sin… again, and again, and again, all day and all night. I don’t know a better description of hell. Anxiety medication provided some relief so I could sleep.

    I was seeing a therapist. twice a week. then a psychologist. They couldn’t get me to shake it. They tried TMS (look it up). They tried biofeedback. But my mind remained stuck where it was. My expression was sort of flat, there was almost no inflection in my voice. Medically, or Clinically, if you will, that is referred to as having little or no Affect. I was dissociated. (look it up). For whatever reason ECT was not indicated.

    Throughout this period, which lasted for many months, my condition was almost always referred to as a depression. By doctors, relatives, therapists, and books. Occasionally the word clinical was added.

    The result of this semantic issue, was that I applied everything I heard or read about depression to myself. Most of those uses of the word probably referred to what I termed above as lowered feelings. In the state I was in, I did not know that I was sick. I was able to use all of the ideas, and suggestions, and mussar as daggers with which to attack myself for not improving my middos to alleviate the depression.

    Boruch HaShem I am now fine. It’s not relevant to this post whether the condition was chemical or psychological. It didn’t matter. I was stuck. The manifestation of the illness was very real. Only Hashem knows if I had bechira, and in what areas. I dragged myself out of bed to take showers. I’m sure I get credit for that. I went like a zombie to the grocery, to buy basic food. I get credit for that.

    But now, Boruch Hashem my life is rather normal. Sometimes, like everyone else, I find myself feeling a bit low. Exercise helps it pass. Going outside helps it pass. Putting on music helps it pass. Calling a friend, considering positive possibilities, reading something funny, getting involved in a minor home repair or some deep house cleaning distracts me, and it passes. Developing an attitude of gam zu l’tova, or hakaras hatov provides a mental climate that will make such feelings less frequent, and more likely to pass when they occur.

    Many people would use the word depressed instead of my choice of the term low.

    As a person who has suffered from depression, I find it impossible to use that word to describe a feeling that I can change by choosing certain thoughts or activities.

    I am certainly not alone. Many others have experienced the type of Major Depression that I did. Those people, as well as their loved ones who observed the unremitting suffering close-up, probably do not use the term depression lightly.

    And the fact that others do, is cause for much argument, hurt, and even confusion on the part of those who have had the medical version.

    I am sure, from my reactions, and from letters to the editor, and from the posts above, that both a passing experience of lowered feelings, and a serious medical state with dissociative features, are both referred to as depression. Usually without descriptive adjectives such as clinical or Major.

    We can not really fault people for whom their only experience with depression is a temporary, or even pervasive bad mood. However, when a person argues about how to address a case of self described depression, as presented by the OP, it is prudent to take people’s possible experiences into account, before jumping on them for over-reacting.

    Words mean completely different things to different people.

    One last note: Please do not bother to post advice for treating (Clinical) Depression in response to this post. You will likely hurt more people than you help.

    in reply to: Footsteps, ?????? ?????? #1166088
    Thinking out loud

    Regarding Project Makom, I did come across their website sometime in the past. I think at the time they had not had any events yet. I was very excited about this project. I imagined it might be something that might help my own young friends. (These are two unrelated young people for whom I was presented an opportunity to enter their lives, each under particular circumstances). I may have even sneaked in a link as an “item of interest” in a social email to one of them.

    I believed, and still do believe that the Modern Orthodox option can help many people who were raised chassidish or yeshivish, but for whatever reason, felt stifled or trapped by the intensity of yiddishkeit as it was presented to them. Project Makom, in addition to the support services they offer, appears to be a wonderful resource for those individuals, as they are exposed to religious practice in a way that does not trigger their defense mechanisms, and allows them to experience fulfillment and meaning that is inherent in Torah living. That is the way we were all meant to experience it in the first place, but for these individuals, something backfired.

    A Torah centered life, which follows halacha, and allows for some of the things that were not accepted in their communities of origin may be very attractive. Too many people have no idea that there is a concept of “machlokes haposkim”, which explains why there are different derachim, and hashkafos still within the framework of halacha. In addition, they have somehow grown up unable to appreciate the difference between an emotionally meaningful family minhag and Issurei Kareis! Once they are ready to discard the former because of the strings attached, they often go straight toward the latter: they don’t know the difference. Education and information about basic halacha, chumra, hiddur, and minhag is key to their remaining Shomrei Shabbos and Kashrus, instead of tossing it all out together.

    But I mentioned in my previous post, that, to quote myself,

    By the time they are seeking a place like Footsteps, such individuals do not believe that there are satisfactory answers, or validating approaches in a Torah life. In my experience, that includes a Modern Orthodox Torah life.

    in reply to: Footsteps, ?????? ?????? #1166087
    Thinking out loud

    @ Sparkly: I haven’t a clue if your comment is genuine or sarcastic.

    @ PuhLease: Sometimes I’m a little slow on the uptake. I have absolutely no idea what your comment meant in terms of the broom getting dirty.

    @lilmod ulilamed, yes you are correct. NCSY is not what I meant at all. (Unless of course NCSY goes into a “right wing” school, and seeks out all the pre-adolescents who are not being inspired or are secretly harboring pain, and…. well I guess we can stop here, for too many reasons to count already!)

    in reply to: Footsteps, ?????? ?????? #1166069
    Thinking out loud

    I am using this thread as an opportunity to expose the dangers of Footsteps, as well as my heartfelt wish that someone develops a proper alternative. I actually lose sleep over this. Due to significant personal limitations, I can not personally realize my dream of creating such a place. But I certainly would be willing to give of myself to support such a place in any way that I could.

    First of all, regardless of their claim to NOT encourage abandonment of Torah, there is a particular unspoken message at Footsteps. True, there is no pressure for a member to change. Many members come clandestinely, and there is a very strong code of confidentiality. Nobody is ridiculed for holding on to the clothing of their community, or to any particular minhag. Acceptance is a given.

    However, a Member who has the “courage” to leave the community, or try treif for the first time, or completely shave off their payos, or leave tznius behind, is provided with a great support system and cheering squad – literally. They are considered to have “overcome” their inhibitions, and their fear of judgement. There is no need for indoctrination. It’s built in socially. I know this from friends who have unfortunately turned to Footsteps to meet their needs.

    There is currently a tremendous need for a place where originally frum young (mostly already adult) Jewish people are able to speak out their frustrations, to a listening and sympathetic non-judgemental ear, and have their personal experiences validated. There is a need to find that they are not alone and that others are also unhappy in the “system”. They are in the process of finding themselves; often for the first time experiencing their individuality, which is the birthright of every human being. This is not heresy! – no Yid has the same road to travel as the next, despite the aim for a common destination of closeness to Hashem. They have the need, to assess the situation they are coming from, and sort out that which is integral to their identity from that which seemed either arbitrary, or downright controlling or hurtful. In a place where experiences are validated, without fuel being added to the fire, acceptance of reality can become a platform from which to rebuild, rather than further destroy.

    The sad part, is that because there is currently no place for these people to safely explore their thoughts, feelings and emotions, they are highly likely to make use of the acceptance that Footsteps offers. And those who started Footsteps, as well as their more popular and well known members, are not shy about declaring the value they have found in a Torah free, or G-d free life. Freedom from the burden of mindless, meaningless rituals is very attractive. The yetzer hora is still alive and well in the world.

    There is a genuine need for members of certain communities to catch up on skills that will help them get a job, and function in the “outside” world. This includes compensating for education that was minimal in the school they attended, and or almost non-existent by mid-high school. It also includes coaching in how to behave in the world: How to acclimate from a very insular situation, to one in which the rules and the norms are unclear. Their experiences, besides being insular may also include a range of abuse from mild to serious, which leaves them without a barometer of what is considered normative behavior, speech, and body language. This is in relation to all members of society at large, Jewish, non-Jewish or anywhere in between. It goes without saying that they must learn basic propriety – and boundaries – with members of the opposite gender in a professional environment, or even in a social one.

    It is truly painful to me that I could not refer the 2 people I am referring to, to a better place. They were no longer “at risk”. They had already heard speeches from all the successful kiruv rabbonim, all the answers to the questions they posed. For whatever reasons, their pains, and feeling of being “trapped” by rules and a controlling system, were not successfully addressed, and they wanted nothing further to do with anyone who clearly wanted to change them, and show them they were wrong.

    By the time they are seeking a place like Footsteps, such individuals do not believe that there are satisfactory answers, or validating approaches in a Torah life. In my experience, that includes a Modern Orthodox Torah life. I do believe they need a lot of what Footsteps is providing. But they DON’T go there with a need to be metamei their neshama with unkosher food. That isn’t what they are seeking at that point. They are also not primed to be seeking out every physical pleasure that exists – yet. There is no need to introduce hedonistic pleasures, when there is so much to offer that is not against halacha.

    Those of us who are blessed with a comfort level in Torah observance, function with the help of emunah and/or bitachon. We are lucky enough to know that after all the confusion is cleared up, at the end there is Emes. We know there is an objective Truth of why we were created (within our limited understanding), Who created us, and Where he wants us to direct our energies (Torah, Avodah, Gemilus Chasodim); each in his or her own way. At the end of our sojourn here, we know we are going to be returning our neshamos back to their Source, and what we have done on this world to enhance our neshamos, is all we will take with us. We get distracted, but deep inside we know.

    If you can not relate to what I just wrote, I strongly recommend that you seek out a non-judgemental Rav, kiruv professional, or mentor. Those of us who have been blessed with circumstances that fostered these beliefs, whether from the safety of a warm family home, or later in life by searching, and finding an environment which nurtured our beliefs, certainly still have challenges and doubts that crop up in our lives. The difference is that we believe that the problem lies somewhat within ourselves, certainly not within the Torah. And so although we struggle, we are grounded by the belief that eventually we will have satisfaction and understanding. We know that challenges will bring us to the Truth that we already believe. If we are smart, we are not threatened by another person’s struggle to find their place in a Torah guided system. Hashem is not at risk, and neither is His Torah. We have challenges that we are meant to overcome, and we are taught that we have the internal resources that we need – if we make the effort to access them, sometimes with assistance. At the very least we can be motivated by the concept of eternal reward, the likes of which we know will be better than we can fathom in this world.

    But those who run that organization do NOT have an underlying belief in Torah. Some are publicly avowed atheists. They mock the places they came from, sometimes in a very subtle way – perhaps due to contradictory messages they received. As leaders and mentors, they share the experiences they have discovered, that were once impermissible. In that cynical environment, there is very less chance that the self-exploration that some people justifiably need to do will lead back to the quest for Truth they start out with. Objective Truth is another word for Torah! Just as they were lacking “permission to be independent thinking people” they are now lacking “permission to believe”!

    We sorely need a place for the affected teens, or even more so, post-teen young adults, to get the technical life skills they need, be validated and supported for their individuality, and be accepted with patience as they struggle to find a comfortable way to house their own “pintele Yid”. Because they all still have one. If you have seen videos of impromptu kumsitzes, where young people with tattoos, body piercings, provocative clothing, and a generally “rebellious” demeanor, sit together and sing the zemiros from their shabbos table of origin – than you know what I mean. Much of their search is necessary and inevitable. But many would eventually find Torah living again, if the support people around them would be people with conviction that the answers to a satisfying life are found in a life that brings us closer to Hashem. At this juncture, they will not tolerate being lectured to, or disapproved of in any way. They are not receptive to “answers” to the questions that they seem to be asking, so hashkafa classes are not indicated. But their pintele yid is in fact starving. And when they are ready, they will come forward again with a mind that is open to the possibility that they all but threw out the baby with the bathwater. Unless of course, they are surrounded by more “experienced” formerly frum successful people, who just by their presentation alone convey the message that happiness and success are found when yiddishkeit is left behind.

    If we manage to provide a place for their current needs, without trying to manipulate or change them, we can give them a safe place, where the food happens to be kosher. We can listen to their twisted understanding of Yiddishkeit as an oppressive, cold religion, without the need to put them in their place, but rather with a listening ear to how they came to those conclusions. Certain latitude is probably indicated in terms of interaction between male and female members or they will not come. Boundaries and rules of conduct, will surprisingly be respected, if the atmosphere is not oppressive. Opportunities for acceptable self-expression, and celebration of accomplishments is part and parcel of such a support environment. Instead of hearing repetitive disappointment from family members who hoped for a different son, daughter, sister or brother, there should be events to give credit to these young people for anything of value that they have accomplished and ought to feel proud about.

    It is what will NOT be provided that also matters:

    There will NOT be a group event, led by a lawyer, to help them set up a legal plan to ensure that when they die, their religious relatives will NOT be able to give them a proper, halachic, Jewish burial. Yes, such a group workshop was offered free of charge to members one fine evening in the recent past, R”L. I know this because my friend attended, not knowing what the planned topic was. But the encouraging part is, that although this group was listed on the members’ calendar, only one person showed up! Because the neshama isn’t dead. The mere offering of such a group event says so much about the unspoken agenda at Footsteps. I have no doubt that there are other “open minded” workshops with goals that by definition are a rejection of some of our most hallowed mesora.

    We must find a way.

    in reply to: Detailed Map of Har Hamenuchos #1156949
    Thinking out loud

    Good Luck on that. I once spent 2 days looking for a specific kever there, and I knew the section and area. But I couldn’t find the section! I finally got a “map” from somebody in a hut near the parking lot. It was a FLAT depiction of the sections; each one in a different color.

    Problem was…. HAR Hamenuchos is a HAR. It’s a mountain. It is high, and it is round. In order to follow the map to the section I needed (I believe it was called Gush Vav), I walked in the direction indicated on the map. It took a while for me to realize that I was climbing OVER the top of the mountain, and trying to make my way down the other side!!!

    There were few helpful “streets” or section dividers, or indications of where the staircases are located on this very steep mountain!

    The only ones who have a better way of locating a specific grave, are the INDIVIDUAL chevra Kadishas. You have to know which Chevra buried the person, and get directions by calling that Chevra.

    If you are looking for famous Rabbanim, and you aren’t particular, It is quite easy to find the “Chelkas Harrabonim”. That is where R’ Moshe Feinstein, The Belzer Rebbe, Rav Shneur Kotler, I think Rav Isser Zalman Meltzer, and countless others are buried.

    You can find that chelka because for most of the year, there is a bright blue tarp over that area, which was erected by the Belzer Chassidim for protection from the sun while daavening at the previous Rebbe’s Kever! If you go into this area, you will find many, many familiar gedolim and talmidei chachomim buried there.

    in reply to: The differences between Yeshivish and Chasidish marriages #1118185
    Thinking out loud

    Since Dr. Abraham J. Twerski’s parents were cited here as an example, and somebody used the word “abuse” to express their reaction, I would like to make a statement specific to this family.

    The Twerskis of Milwaukee are known for being extremely stable, down-to-earth, caring and agreeable people. They are actually quite exceptionable in their capacities of interpersonal dealings and approachable leadership. That is neither a reflection, nor an endorsement of the way their parents were married. It is simply a truth.

    It is my opinion that their incredible talents and reputations may very well be a reflection of their genetics (nature) AND certainly their nurture (observable middos passed down). Ask (almost) anyone who deals with these people on a regular basis. I have been thus fortunate.

    I can not say, for certainly this is only known to Hashem, but it seems to me, that having such middos passed down, AND being extremely aware of it (as they are, incredibly without ga’avah), might make for a successful marriage despite the young chosson and kallah not knowing each other before.

    As far as their next generation, since they are normal people, and quite insistent on being normal and approachable, it is understandable that not every shidduch involving the offspring of the parents was successful. Every situation is different, and every individual, if raised in a healthy way, is a separate entity with an independent personality. I am also quite sure that their children definitely saw/met their respective spouses, some more than others before their shidduchim, despite their strong and proud adherence to their mesorah.

    Again, this is neither an endorsement, nor even a study of the format of the senior Twerski’s (Z”L) form of pre-marital introduction. It is simply a statement meant to maintain the high regard that I, and many others have for this wonderful family, who have given, and continue to give of themselves, publicly, as well as very privately to others. Would that we would have more such examples of Kiddush Hashem amongst us!

    in reply to: How to donate to support Shemitah #1091394
    Thinking out loud

    Thank you flyer and ChanieE.

    in reply to: How to donate to support Shemitah #1091391
    Thinking out loud

    Thanks for the response.

    There is no problem with the site, or the legality. I just can’t make a donation for less than $354 on that site (kerenHashviis). That’s all I’m asking!

    in reply to: Weird Coffee Room ads #1211521
    Thinking out loud


    Regular lurker rare contributer here…

    I use firefox, and have an adblocker plus a tracking blocker. I haven’t seen ads in a very long time. According to some, I may be one of those who eventually “break” the web, because I am not supporting the income producing advertising!

    In response to this thread, I just disabled all add ons to see the ads, and I was immediately overwhelmed with all the flashing, and distracting ads. Still, someone mentioned that the ads are being controlled by google, which would mean they are linked to google searches.

    First of all, nearly all of the ads I saw were obviously specifically placed by “heimish” vendors, or vendors who clearly know they are targeting an orthodox Jewish website.

    Secondly, I would be surprised if this site uses google ads, because as mentioned, the type of ad displayed would be highly dependent on google’s tracking. In other words, other pages you’ve searched, opened, or even the content of your emails determines which ads you see. (In case that surprises you, welcome to the world of google, where you have given up all privacy when you agreed to the terms of opening your google account!).

    As per my second point, this would mean that any ad, however inappropriate could show up while you are using theyeshivaworld website. That seems to defeat the purpose of having a website that is considered “kosher”, since theyeshivaworld has NO control over what you see when you are on their site. There are certainly many discussions here that can be misinterpreted as interest that is not appropriate. For example all the threads about tznius, include words that should be picked up by google. Threads about divorce should cause ads for divorce lawyers to be presented. Is this in fact true about this site?

    I recently googled a significant amount of information regarding healthy eating, and a particular medical issue. I searched these topics for more than a month! I also accessed many sites on these topics. None of the ads that appeared when I unblocked ads had anything connected to that information.

    That could be because I erase my firefox history and searches every few days, as well as use google searches without signing in. I also often do my searches using a search engine that logs nothing about my searches. Do most of you simply log in to google and stay logged in, and never clear your browser history?? Doesn’t that open you up to at least SOME ads that are objectionable??

    I remember years ago, I did get an ad on this page that was a targeted ad for christian missionizing, or something like that. (That would make sense, since there’s much focus on biblical topics here). When I pointed this out to theyeshivaworld, their response was in fact that they had no control of the ads. I assumed that given their status now, they have no problem filling the page with privately funded ads, and no longer use a service that is not under their control.

    Well, I’m back to blocking ads as well as tracking… so almost no ads ever show up for me anywhere!

    Looking back at the ads some of you listed, you may be correct that google ads is in fact being used. The ads mentioned for

    “Past Life Regression”


    ” ‘Shocking’ 2014 Horoscope”

    “1 Free Psychic Reading”

    “Free Meditation Audio”

    May be related to those threads that were opened by someone who was looking for a mekubal?!

    The others do appear to be rather random.

    in reply to: Sefer Chasidim – english translation #1023671
    Thinking out loud

    He’s a very obvious Talmid Chochom, based on his translations alone, so I can’t imagine calling him Mister. Rabbi Finkel worked on a Tanna D’vei Eliyahu published by the Yeshiva as recently as 2013, so maybe he does in fact have email. Regardless, it isn’t published anywhere.

    I’m wondering, why is it necessary for you to use email, instead of investing in a short telephone call? You can call Rabbi Finkel and ask if/how you can contact him via email, since that is easier for you. The call would only last less than a minute or two! Worst case scenario, he will tell you that he can’t be contacted via the web!

    Independent rebbeim/staff at Yeshiva Beth Moshe have personal/private email formatted like this: “…“.

    I can not find any public resource that lists a contact email address for the yeshiva office, or administrator. If you are determined to avoid freely published telephone contact numbers, there is some information that can be helpful if you use google. There’s a Scranton Jewish community site to promote information and interest in the kehilla: Jewishscranton dot org.

    Under the “community” link there is an education link. That page has a description of the 4 schools there. The Bnos Yisroel high school has a contact email address listed. The address is using Yeshiva Beth Moshe’s email domain. So apparently, Bnos Yisroel has or had some technical connection to the Yeshiva. I imagine they would have any online public contact information for the yeshiva – if it exists.

    Perhaps you can send a quick email to Bnos Yisroel, asking for the email address that Yeshiva uses. Or request that they forward your email to the Yeshiva for you. Many yeshivos and Bais Yaakov type schools in consolidated Jewish Communities do not have a need to maintain a presence on the web. A listed address and telephone number serve their needs.

    I still think it’s simpler to call Rabbi Finkel.

    in reply to: Sefer Chasidim – english translation #1023669
    Thinking out loud

    Rabbi Finkel is kein eiyen hora not a young fellow. I wouldn’t bet on him having email.

    You are correct, I can’t either find any email contact info for Yeshiva Beth Moshe in Scranton, Pennsylvania. It’s also called the Milton Eisner Yeshiva.

    I guess you have to invest in a telephone call to Rabbi Finkel himself.

    All the best.

    in reply to: Sefer Chasidim – english translation #1023667
    Thinking out loud

    Rabbi Finkel who translated many books (some as fundraisers for Yeshiva Beth Moshe, Scranton, PA) lives in Boro Park.

    We have a book that lists phone numbers by address – and he is listed there as Jack Finkel.

    I don’t know if Yeshiva World allows posting phone numbers, but do a search at whitepages dot com for Jack Finkel in Brooklyn, New York. He lives on forty seventh street, and is listed. The listing may alternatively be Jack A Finkel


    (I haven’t logged in or posted in years… I’m going back to routine lurking now!)

    in reply to: The CR Dare of the Day #955060
    Thinking out loud

    pressing ALT F4 will cause your browser window to close. Moski, why would you set people up for that?

    in reply to: Number of the us mint #840583
    Thinking out loud

    US Mint 801 9th NE St

    Washington, DC 20002

    (202) 354-7227

    1111 20th NW St

    Washington, DC 20526

    Neighborhood: Downtown

    (202) 622-2000

    1500 Pennsylvania NW Ave

    Washington, DC 20220

    Neighborhood: Downtown

    (202) 283-2646

    in reply to: HHHEEELLPP MMMEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!! #739700
    Thinking out loud

    “Col Hamisabel al Bais Hamikdash zoche v’roeh b’vinyano”

    I don’t know the source and I may have misquouted it, but there is definitely such a chazal

    in reply to: Come Play The Rumor Game! #1164550
    Thinking out loud

    Dr. Weissberg’s office scanner blew up causing a massive fire. It may have been an act of terrorism.

    in reply to: Come Play The Rumor Game! #1164514
    Thinking out loud

    Rabbi Korn is giving a hashgacha to an unkosher bagel shop in New Jersey. His general hanhogos are also under suspicion.

    in reply to: Come Play The Rumor Game! #1164511
    Thinking out loud

    Is the Hasgacha on Corn Bagels reliable?

    in reply to: Tznius: a woman’s issue #623868
    Thinking out loud

    This is an ammended version of a previous comment of mine, without the mistakes!

    Regarding the hilchos tsnius currently in print: There seems to be some confusion due to its level of kedusha.

    Current trends have led to the publishing of these sefarim. However, Tznius is a multi-faceted thing. There are basic halachos that need to be kept (specific areas that are ervah). There are some variant determinations by rabbanim about the exact definitions of those areas. One needs to ask their Rav.

    In addition, there is a whole other area, that is extremely dependent on the situation. This area requires sensitivity and judgement. Girls are supposed to be taught judgement. When people are given black and white rules about things that require thought, eventually it can backfire. Not only do they dismiss judgements that they don’t understand yet, they also can chas v’sholom come to dismiss the basic halacha R”L.

    In plain english: they can get confused by yiddishkeit, chas v’sholom.

    There are communities that deal with all issues by making more and more rules. Chasuna Takanos, Shidduchim Takanos, etc. For some people, this works. They know what to do, what is acceptable, and they do not have to make their own decisions. Hopefully the personal avodas H-Shem or Yiras Shamayim of these people will be enhanced.

    However, there is a huge price paid by those who do need to think for themselves in order to effectively be ovdei h-Shem. They may quickly be labeled rebels, for not accepting these extra – sometimes arbitrary – rules. And once someone considers himself a rebel, nothing matters any more.

    The rules of tznius have not changed, and the sensitivities and judgements that need to be learned, need to be taught in every generation. The “simple solutions”, where there is a “short list” of acceptable clothing… or a uniform… have short term gains, but long term losses. When a generation of frum girls seem to be clueless, it is apparent that the problem is not because there aren’t enough rules. It’s because they have stopped listening, rachmana litzlan. We each need to ask OURSELVES why… to daaven for chochma, bina and da’as in all things.

    May we all be zoche to listen… and HEAR the kol shofar of moshiach tzidkeinu.

    Ksiva V’chasima Tova

    in reply to: Mochel Loch… time to forgive and be forgiven! #1184855
    Thinking out loud

    Many months ago, I posted a comment on YWN. I posted with the best of intentions. However, in the process of making my point I made a very grave error. I was lax with the honor that is due a gadol batorah. It is a terrible, terrible sin to disparage a Talmid Chochom, and even more so to cause others to do so. YWN removed my comment as per my request.

    Since I am known by a screen name on this website, I apologized in the appropriate forum, where I made the error. May it be H-shem’s will, that no further harm should come as a result of my mistake.

    In the zechus of the efforts of the many people who are trying so hard to restore kedusha to klal yisroel, may we be zoche to merit teshuva shelaima, and the resulting geulah.

    in reply to: Tzinus – Both Views are Correct #622455
    Thinking out loud

    Regarding my post above… my apologies! I apparently posted it in the wrong “room”!! It was intended for a different tznius discussion!!!

    Ksiva V’chasima Tova to all

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