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Torah Made Easy – Just Be A Mentch

12 Tammuz 5770 – June 23, 2010
In my previous column I noted how the great sage Hillel, when asked to teach the entire Torah in the time it took for a man to stand on one leg, stated without hesitation that people should not do to others what they wouldn't want done to them - and that the rest was commentary on that point.

The Scourge Of FakeOdoxy

27 Sivan 5770 – June 9, 2010
Back in the day when I was growing up, members of the Jewish community were categorized into three groups - Orthodox, Conservative or Reform. Those who kept kosher and were shomer Shabbat were considered Orthodox. Period. How men or women dressed, their choice of head covering - or not - was irrelevant. In fact, going to public school didn't disqualify you from being viewed as Orthodox. The fact that you brought your own lunch, while everyone else lined up at the cafeteria for burgers and French fries confirmed your religious status.

You Know Your Date’s A Mentsch If…

13 Sivan 5770 – May 26, 2010
While some people have the extreme mazel of knowing within an hour of their date that the person sitting across from them is the "right one," the vast majority of those on shidduch (blind) dates aren't so lucky. I would guess most first dates are parve - with the consensus being, "I had a nice time, but not amazing."

‘Will Ema Come Home?’

28 Iyyar 5770 – May 12, 2010
Dear Readers, As a change of pace, I wrote a short story with the hope that it might provide some insight as to how young children can assess ordinary situations in a way that may be surprising to grownups.

‘Oh Baby’

14 Iyyar 5770 – April 28, 2010
I was eating in a restaurant recently, enjoying both the food (post-Pesach) and the company, when a few minutes into the meal the sound of a baby shrieking shattered the subdued ambiance. I looked around and saw a young mother and father sitting at a table, a baby carriage nearby. To my annoyance, they continued just sitting there, despite the fact that their child's cries had become more strident and ear shattering. They seemed oblivious to the noise, and were not in any hurry to do something about it. It was only after they noticed that people at other tables were eyeing them with mild (to extreme) disgust that the mother stirred herself to get up, pick up the infant - who looked to be about one month old - and try to calm him down.

When The Absence Of Pain Is Pleasure

30 Nisan 5770 – April 14, 2010
There is an old joke that describes a passerby who sees a man repeatedly hitting his head against a wall. Each time his head hits the wall, the man yelps in pain. Concerned, the first man runs up to him and asks why he keeps banging his head when it obviously hurts when he does so. The man answers, "Because it feels so good when I stop."

The Evil ‘Fourth Son’

14 Nisan 5770 – March 29, 2010
The Haggadah brings to our attention the "Four Sons," each of whom has a distinct nature that essentially represents the main types of Jews who cross our path. The one we most admire is the "wise" son. He is the kind of young man every parent, prospective in-law and teacher dreams of having come into their life. He is intelligent, sincere and inquisitive and has a thirst for knowledge. He knows where he comes from and embraces his Yiddishkeit.

Why Winter Weather Is Good For You

17 Adar 5770 – March 3, 2010
Many of us in North America, even in areas that are usually relatively toasty during the winter months - like Maryland and Washington, DC - are impatiently counting the days until spring and the promise of warmth and sunny days. Even rain is looking good these days.

The ‘Older and Improved’ Me

3 Adar 5770 – February 17, 2010
If you look at an ad or a commercial, more often than not the hype will be about the "new and improved" version of a product. The emphasis is on the fact that it's "newer" and thus better than the "earlier" version.

A Prayer For Relief

19 Shevat 5770 – February 3, 2010
Several weeks ago, there was a flurry of articles in various newspapers about the possible release of captured Israeli soldier Gilad Schalit via a prisoner exchange. Some seemed quite optimistic that his tragic situation would finally be resolved. Sadly, to date, nothing has changed and he remains a prisoner, concealed and cut off from those who cherish him. In addition, the frum world has been rocked by several scandals involving pillars of the community whose moral integrity and Yiddishkeit seemingly have been overwhelmed and enslaved by the yetzer harah. Below is a petition to our Heavenly Father for rescue from the evil - both external and internal - that threatens our physical, mental and spiritual well-being.

Indifference: The New Work Ethic

5 Shevat 5770 – January 20, 2010
Consumers beware: Shopping, gift-giving, vacationing, even making money may be hazardous to your health. Indulging in what should be routine activities can - due to a seeming epidemic of "who cares?" - induce extreme frustration, stress and anxiety, causing your blood pressure readings to be more like those of a thermometer just pulled out of a feverish child. Way too high.

Matchmaking – Not A Piece Of Cake

20 Tevet 5770 – January 6, 2010
As I eyed the delicious, calorie-rich dessert buffet at a singles event I recently attended, I surveyed the crowd surging around me, and contemplated what, in the scheme of things was harder to do - lose weight or set people up. Both are very challenging, require a lot of "will" power - combined with tons of resolve, patience - and most importantly, "pep" talking.

No Retirement In Sight For The ZOA

6 Tevet 5770 – December 23, 2009
ZOA -The Zionist Organization of America hosted its 112th Annual Gala Dinner in New York City last week, and since I happened to be in the "neighborhood," visiting the tri-State area for an upcoming simcha - I decided to attend.

Success Is In The Trying

22 Kislev 5770 – December 9, 2009
With Chanukah - the Festival of Lights quickly approaching, Jews the world over are busy planning get-togethers, preparing or buying latkes and donuts, shopping for gifts for children and adults alike and generally looking forward to having fun and a much welcome break from the daily grind of life.

Appreciating ‘Greshik’

8 Kislev 5770 – November 25, 2009
Rosh Chodesh Kislev marks the 10th yahrzeit of my father, Chaim ben Aaron-Yosef Hakohen. Lately, whenever I think of him, the image that pops into my mind is of him sitting at the kitchen table, eating a bowl of "grishek." I think we would call it porridge - although that term seems to be outdated these days.

Looking For The ‘Finished’ Product?

24 Heshvan 5770 – November 11, 2009
I have been to many singles get-togethers over the years, and have noticed an unfortunate tendency by both men and women to give members of the opposite gender a quick glance over. Each is then given the label of being a "loser," "winner" (one worth making the effort to meet), and those who are "OK, but not really my type; so why waste my time and energy?"

Should Newlyweds Hold Off Having Children?

10 Heshvan 5770 – October 28, 2009
I know that just the title of this article is going to cause an uproar in some circles, and I know that some people might be aghast at how I can even ask that question. To some it is obviously halachically unacceptable to postpone starting a family. After all, the Jewish people are exhorted to pru urevu - to be fruitful and multiply. So, let me say at the onset, this is something every engaged couple should discuss with their rav. Getting a heter - even for a few months- just might be a lifesaver.

‘Playing’ It Safe For Your Children

26 Tishri 5770 – October 14, 2009
A few years ago I wrote in this column that at the bris of my oldest son - held in a shul whose members were for the most part elderly - a wizened old man approached me, peered into my face and muttered in a raspy voice with a Yiddish accent, "May your children sit shiva for you." I was too stunned to say anything to him and just shook my head as he walked away. I thought, "nebach, he must be demented."

The Value Of Self-Worth

5 Tishri 5770 – September 23, 2009
In my previous column, I wrote that helping to foster a positive self-image in one's children is the greatest gift parents can give them. Similarly, self-like (not to be confused with narcissistic self-worship) is a key component in having a successful life.

If You Belittle Your Kids They Will Be Little

20 Elul 5769 – September 9, 2009
The new school year is starting and parents across the board are busy getting their children ready for school. New clothing, books and study aids like calculators have been bought and bus service and car pools organized. As the year progresses parents will do whatever it takes to help ensure their offspring do well in their Limudei Kodesh and secular studies, including helping with homework or even enlisting a tutor.

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