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April 18, 2014 / 18 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘shopping’

Believing In Hashem’s Packages

Wednesday, November 30th, 2011

Upon returning home from food shopping, I had to park my van a block and a half from where I live. It was difficult for me to carry the heavy food packages and my pocketbook, but I managed to get to the beginning of my block. I then decided to stop, put the packages down, and rearrange them so I’d make it home with heavy packages intact. But after a few more steps, I just couldn’t proceed further. I stopped again, put down my packages, and said in my mind, “Hashem, what am I going to do? I’m so close to home, and yet I can’t get there.” I felt like I couldn’t move on.

Suddenly, one of my son’s former teachers who saw me struggling gave me a nice warm welcome and asked if she could help me. She said her van was parked nearby and that she’d be happy to give me a ride down the block to my home. I was relieved and told her that I just asked Hashem to please help me, and she said, “You see, I was your shaliach to help you.” She told me that her family member writes a list of things that she requests Hashem to help her with, and slowly – with Hashem’s help and her bitachon – each item on the list gets crossed off.

What a powerful lesson this was to me. All of us, in our own way, have our own “package” or “packages” in life that we may feel we can’t handle. Indeed life presents us with daily and sudden unexpected challenges. We need to ask Hashem, our father who loves us, for help, and have bitachon that we will be successful in meeting the challenges. Hashem can send a sudden shaliach, can produce a sudden recovery from an illness, or provide something else one desires.

I happily made it home with all my packages intact, and with this powerful lesson: we need to have faith that Hashem will help us with our packages.

“Kavei el Hashem chazak veya’ametz libecha v’kavei el Hashem.”

We Must Have Faith

Wednesday, October 12th, 2011

I live at Scharf’s Ateret Avot, a residence for seniors. I get around via a motorized wheelchair. This gives me the independence to go where I choose.

On a recent sunny morning, I decided to ride and do a little shopping. Most important I took my small canvas tote bag, in which I put the things necessary to go shopping. Included among these things were my charge card, my purse with money, and my cell phone. As usual I slung the tote over the arm of my chair, did my shopping, and happily rode back to Ateret Avot. In the lobby I reached for my tote bag to get my keys. Calamity! The tote bag was gone.

Panic set in. Where can it be? Moses Scharf saw my agitation and asked what was wrong. I told him, and said I would retrace my steps. His response was, “Don’t panic. Put a dollar in the pushka and say a prayer to Rabbi Meir Baal Haness.”

Mr. Scharf had to give me a dollar because my money was in the missing tote bag. I recited the prayer for lost articles. I wasn’t sure that this would work, but figured that prayer never hurts.

I left the lobby and saw that Mr. Scharf left right after me. I later found out that he walked into every store on my route to inquire if anyone had found the bag.

I returned to Ateret Avot feeling dejected. I took mental inventory. I would have to notify my cell phone company, my charge card company, etc. All my IDs were gone. I entered the lobby with tears rolling down my cheeks. Iris, the receptionist, greeted me. “Phyllis, smile.” I answered, “I have nothing to smile about.”

Then I saw this young man holding my tote bag. I could not believe my eyes. This wonderful yeshiva bachur, Dovid Lipschutz, had found my bag. It was in the middle of the street and a car had just run over it. He picked it up and ingeniously called a number listed in my cell phone. My son answered and gave him my address.

Also amazing is the fact that the only damage was to a plastic pillbox. My purse, cell phone, etc. were the way I left them. Mr. Scharf smiled as he said to me, “I told you Rabbi Meir Baal Haness would help you find it.” There is no question in my mind that Mr. Scharf had advised me properly.

We must have faith.

‘Mancation’ In Cincinnati

Wednesday, October 12th, 2011

            Two months ago I told you about my “Mancation” (men only, we visit different cities, check out a ballgame and the shuls, etc.).

 

Two months ago it was Pittsburgh. This time it was Cincinnati. Both cities are a five-and-a-half hour drive from my dugout in suburban Detroit. Pittsburgh is east, Cincy west. The two cities have similar populations, well under a half million, and both boast thriving downtowns and beautiful riverfront ballparks.

 

Pittsburgh, however, had one big advantage over Cincinnati: its kosher eateries, kosher shopping, and shuls are all pretty much within walking distance of each other. While Cincinnati’s few shuls are fairly close to one another, its kosher shopping and eateries are spread out and a car is a definite must.

 

Rabbi A.D. Motzen, who reps for Agudah in the Midwest covering several states,
is based in Cincinnati. Rabbi Motzen says the Cincy area has 27,000 Jews and approximately 250 Orthodox families. I was lucky enough to be in town the same time as Rabbi Motzen’s father, the internationally known cantor Yaakov Motzen. The chazzan‘s wife is from Philadelphia and a loyal Phillies fan; the family took in a Reds-Phillies game while in town.

 

Losantville Road houses Cincinnati’s tiny kollel building and adjoining day schools for boys and girls across the street. One big Orthodox shul is a couple of houses south of Losantville and the beautiful, relatively new, building of Knesseth Israel/Zichron Yaakov on Section Road is about a half mile north.

 

Great American Ballpark on the banks of the Ohio River, facing the Kentucky cities of Newport and Covington, is a beautiful baseball venue employing mainly two colors – the red and white of the Cincinnati Reds. A bright white exterior with strikingly white light towers gives all sides of the ballpark’s exterior a different look from other major league parks.

 

The interior of all-red seats for the Reds gives the stadium a bright look and is quite a departure from the dark green or blue seats most ballparks employ. Most fans wear their Reds jerseys, something that adds greatly to the vibrant red color scheme.

 

 


Great American Ballpark in beautiful downtown Cincinnati.

(Photo Credit: Irwin Cohen)


 

Great American Ballpark also has one of the most entertaining scoreboards in the big leagues. Between innings the giant board features fans in attendance and their reactions when they discover themselves on the screen. Camera people are constantly roaming different areas of the stands and concourses for unsuspecting fans, and, of course, many dance around hoping to be featured on the board.

 

Because of the scoreboard’s location, many boaters congregate on the Ohio River at night beyond the right field bleachers, open their coolers and set anchor while watching the game’s (and other) highlights on the scoreboard.

 

So, if you like a mid-sized city with a small town atmosphere and a beautiful, busy downtown – and don’t mind driving a bit for kosher shopping and eating – give Cincinnati a try.


 

* * * * *

 

As you can imagine, the talk around my town (Detroit) has been all about the Tigers. There’s nothing tougher for the baseball fan than to have your team in the postseason playoffs and not know what’s going on as the yomim tovim run into Shabbos. After giving the traditional Yom Tov or Shabbos greeting, everyone asks, “Did you find out anything about the game?”

 

I’ll tell you more about it next month along with some of the biggest surprises of the season and some free-agent predictions for next season.

 

* * * * *

 

Irwin Cohen headed a national baseball publication for five years and earned a
World Series ring while working in a major league front office
. To read his
illustrated autobiography on how he made it to the baseball field, send a check for $19.95, payable to Irwin Cohen, to 25921 Stratford Place, Oak Park, Michigan, 48237
. Cohen, the president of the Detroit area’s Agudah shul, may be reached in his dugout at irdav@sbcglobal.net.

Chronicles Of Crises In Our Communities – 8/5/11

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2011

The Leiby Initiative

 

Dear Rachel,

I’ve been meaning to write to you for weeks now about some selfish anti-chessed behavior I have repeatedly been exposed to here in Flatbush, the Brooklyn neighborhood where I’ve lived for some time.

Originally, I intended to be harshly critical. But the tragic loss of Leiby Kletsky, z”l, which highlighted the chessed and achdus that can and does exist in our community, made me rethink the tone I had meant to address this in.

So, in the dear memory of little Leiby, I suggest we ponder some of the offensive habits that you, the reader, may be guilty of. Hopefully, this will lead to an understanding on your part of how you inconvenience others and will motivate you to alter your conduct. Allow me to call it the “Leiby Initiative.”

As many are aware, New York, specifically the communities of Boro Park and Flatbush, are congested with crowds of people and numerous vehicles. As you go about your busy day, please reconsider the following actions:

1.  Double Parking: Unless it’s an emergency, do not double park. I cannot count the number of times I have had to painfully squeeze by a double parked car or van — an even bigger irritant when the offending driver could easily have pulled into an empty spot nearby. Regrettably, this thoughtless act is more prevalent in frum neighborhoods.

2.  Driving While On The Cell: Talking on a hand-held cell phone while driving is ILLEGAL, regardless of how many drivers may be disregarding the law. While I was walking from the train station on my way home from work one evening, two frum women in separate cars almost mowed me down — so distracted were they by their conversations on their hand-held phones.

3.  Texting: We all know not to text and drive. But lately I am increasingly impeded as I walk behind frum texters. (You can always tell what activity they are immersed in by their slow gait.) It never seems to cross their minds that they slow pedestrians down behind them. Or, that they are about to walk into one coming their way who must make a beeline around the texter to avoid a collision. In addition, train commuters have the addictive chutzpah to whip out their smart phones as they walk up subway stairs toward the exit – during rush hour no less – in their impatience to check on their e-mail, demonstrating a complete disregard for those who are climbing the stairs behind them, eager to be on their way.

4.  Return Your Shopping Carts! You know how you teach your kids to put their toys away and clean up their rooms? Well then, why – after you’re done with your supermarket shopping – are you unable to return the shopping cart? And, by the way, it does not belong behind you in the checkout area where you inconsiderately push it and rudely obstruct another shopper’s access to the checkout!

As we mourn the loss of young Leiby Kletsky, z”l, and reflect upon the achdus this tragedy engendered, how relevant that we find ourselves in a time-period (the Three Weeks) when the tikkun (repair) for combating sinas chinam (baseless hatred) is ahavas chinam (baseless love). By striving to correct our disagreeable behaviors, we will make our communities better – and safer – neighborhoods to reside in.

Concerned in Brooklyn

 

Dear Concerned,

Rest assured you are far from alone in your frustration, and are right to be concerned. But those who inconvenience you with their unthinking ways have perhaps much more to be concerned about, for in the end they may be causing themselves the bigger headache.

The benefit of instant communication by way of incessant finger tapping on the sophisticated cell’s mini keyboard may come at a hefty price. For one, conveying messages back and forth leaves one with little time to concentrate on much else. But aside from wondering where the day went, we may not be as adept at multitasking as we believe ourselves to be.

In fact, we are far from it. The human brain can only fully concentrate on one thing at a time; the more we attempt to do at once, the less efficient we become at each task — which ultimately will take us twice as long to achieve, our error rate increasing twofold.

Just ask the guy who considers himself a careful, conscientious driver, yet couldn’t help turning his head to glance at his blackberry that was signaling an incoming text. His SUV suddenly collided with a lamppost that “appeared” out of nowhere.

It’s one thing to be home and to discover, to our chagrin, that we neglected to add the most important ingredient to the cake batter we were preparing while on the phone. But when we enter a public domain, our role becomes multidimensional.

Whether walking outdoors or driving, we have a duty to be respectful, responsible and restrained (in our “cell” tendencies and in keeping our emotions in check).

The only way we can hope to have our children do us and our Creator proud (and to increase our chances of being around to shep nachas from them in person) is to teach by example. “Do as I say…” is worthless; on the other hand, “Do as I do…” is difficult to argue with.

Thank you for being an alert driver and pedestrian and for maintaining “old-fashioned” values. “The Leiby Initiative” is a great way to promote harmony and goodwill among people of all faiths and in all neighborhoods.

May we merit seeing the day of mourning become a day of rejoicing.

* * * * *

We encourage women and men of all ages to send in their personal stories via email to  rachel@jewishpress.com  or by mail to Rachel/Chronicles, c/o The Jewish Press, 4915 16th Ave., Brooklyn, N.Y. 11204. If you wish to make a contribution and help agunot, your tax-deductible donation should be sent to The Jewish Press Foundation. Please make sure to specify that it is to help agunot, as the foundation supports many worthwhile causes.

Matchmaker, Matchmaker – Don’t Make Me A Match! (Part I)

Thursday, April 28th, 2011

Out of all the Jewish holidays, Pesach is the one that brings far-flung family and friends together. You go to shul, for a walk, shopping or to an amusement park during chol hamoed, and to your delight you bump into friends and acquaintances you haven’t seen for ages. You sit down and you shmooze and you catch up with each other’s lives and share information about people you both knew from “the old days.”

This Pesach was no different. I reconnected – if only briefly, with several people who were friendly acquaintances from years ago. Some were local, some were visiting from far away; some were charedi, some quite modern; some were well to do, some were “middle class.” Yet, most had a common situation that I found fascinating and disturbing at the same time – a child, or two, who were what we refer to as “older” singles.

They had sons and daughters in their late 20′s, early 30′s – and even older. If they were fortunate enough to have married off their children, they spoke about nieces, nephews or their friends’ single children, with the most frequently asked question being, “Do you know someone for…?”

Some of these “children” I knew when they were pre-schoolers or in elementary schools, and I remember them as being adorable and smart and cute. I imagine they still were. Those I didn’t know were very likely mainstream young men and women who certainly had no major physical or social impediments that would affect their “marketability.”

These are the ones whom everyone assumed would be the first in their class to get married. Yet, here were their parents, friends or relatives diligently networking for them and almost desperately trying to find them a shidduch.

You wonder if the reason these fine young people are unmarried is because they just haven’t met the right one? Could it be very bad mazal that has resulted in them becoming “older singles,” while many of their peers, who had fewer “attributes” (like money or yichus) – are married with children in grade school?

With some, I believe that is the case. And eventually many do get married and feel it was worth waiting for “the one.” I know of several young ladies and bachurim near 30 or older who recently got engaged. But there are still so many who haven’t.

The question that begs to be asked then is: if these erlicher young adults who have been raised to believe that building a ba’ayit ne’eman is the ultimate goal – one that they actually insist they want to attain – then why are they not allowing it to happen.

Why do many young people, long timers in “the parsha” after weeks or months of dating someone, suddenly end it when the other party seemed so compatible? Why do so many say no when the person mentioned seems to be exactly what they claim they are looking for?

I think the answer is pure, unmitigated fear. Underneath their cool, confident exterior, these hapless young men and women are terrified. On a subconscious level, they are enveloped by a ferocious fright that fetters and freezes them so they are unable to move forward. Despite having gone out for years, they are stuck in a psychological rut they very likely are unaware of.

I’m not a psychologist by any means, I’m just someone, who having been single since my late twenties, has been a part of the “single” world for a very long time, and over the decades has seen amazing young men and woman left behind while their siblings, classmates and colleagues moved forward and attained the traditional milestones of marriage and parenthood.

Over the years I saw them date; go to Shabbatonim; collect segulahs from near and far and attend numerous singles functions, with no change in their status quo. I saw them go from being very young and attractive, with so much promise and potential as anshei and neshei chayil, to becoming bewildered, lonely middle-aged individuals wondering where the years went?

I will be the first to admit that to a large degree fear and trepidation has held me back – the way someone who had a bad experience while swimming is afraid of getting back in the water.

The sad thing is that most of these singles are not aware that they are afflicted with fear, as it lurks beneath the surface of their psyche. They just think they haven’t met the right one yet. As I mentioned, in some cases, they hadn’t and it isn’t unusual for a boy to get engaged with the 87th girl he went out with. Ditto for some kallahs who dated for years until they just “knew” without a shadow of doubt that they had finally found the one.

However, most of us know of young people in the parsha who to everyone’s dismay and chagrin, reject one boy/girl after another – shidduch candidates who had passed their very exacting “screening” test with flying colors, and who were deemed “perfect” in every which way for the person they were redd to. And they very likely were.

Yet the other party found something “significantly” wrong – like the tie he wore was out of style or she doesn’t like football. People will call them “picky” – but pickiness is just a façade they are hiding behind: They are just very, very afraid – and come up with these superficial excuses they green light into a “not interested” resolution.

Just what are these fears that hamstring them? I will discuss them in my next column.

Life Filled With Miracles

Wednesday, March 17th, 2010

Something beautiful happened last summer while I was visiting my daughter and her family in Toronto.

I was shopping at Sears and did not realize that I had accidentally dropped my wallet on the floor. I only realized what had happened after returning home. It was upsetting when upon returning to the store to inquire, no one had turned it in. But I then had to return home to Montreal.

Two days later, someone called my daughter to say she had found my wallet. She explained that she had bent down to pick it up, and when she stood up, I was gone.

My daughter drove to the woman’s home, and was asked many questions. She finally handed my daughter the wallet after showing her that everything was in place. First and foremost in the wallet was a photo of the Lubavitcher Rebbe.

I am a child survivor of Tarnopol, Poland – the only survivor of my family. I came to Montreal as an orphan, and have been living there since 1948.

Although I have suffered much in my life, I am grateful for my blessings. My life is filled with miracles, like the finding of my wallet after I had given it up for lost.

Thank you, Hashem.

Helping Hand

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2010

Tefillah is a powerful tool. When we see Hashem’s hand at work, we are overwhelmed.

One of my neighbors recently experienced Hashem’s answer to her tefillah firsthand. She had brought her car in for repairs to the local auto shop. Rather than wait for it to be repaired, she decided to walk a mile to the nearest pizza shop for lunch. As she walked down a busy street, she passed a shopping center. Suddenly, she literally didn’t know what hit her.

A car made a right turn into the shopping center parking lot, hit her, and knocked her to the ground. Naturally she was shaken and frightened. Soon, sirens sounded, and an EMS team arrived at the scene. They found a lump on her head and suggested that she be checked out at the nearest hospital. She agreed, and the ambulance rushed her to the emergency room.

While she waited for her CAT scan and other tests, she prayed that Hashem would send an angel to help her. One of her neighbors was a doctor. She did not know if he was affiliated with this hospital, but she nevertheless davened that he would somehow come to her aid. You can imagine her surprise when the door swung open and this doctor walked in. She almost shrieked with happiness. She had asked Hashem for this doctor’s help, and he arrived.

Not only did he help by making sure the tests were done expeditiously, but he returned to see her after finishing his rounds and drove her home.

Now you tell me, does Hashem hear our tefillot?

Success Is In The Trying

Wednesday, December 9th, 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.

While enjoying our Chanukah festivities, we recite, during bentching and davening the story of Chanukah, reminding ourselves of how the Jews in the time of the Syrian-Greek occupation of the Land of Israel were able to stop the threat of spiritual and physical annihilation by destroying the army of the despot Antiochus – this despite being vastly out-numbered. We celebrate the miracle of “beating the odds” both in winning the battle and having a day’s worth of holy oil last for eight days.

But there is an underlying message in the story of Chanukah that today’s Jews – beset, as we are with so many woes, existential, financial and social – should open our eyes to and internalize. And that is taking it upon ourselves when we have seemingly insurmountable goals, to “make the effort” despite the odds, despite the very real likelihood in failing. So many of us give up too soon, or don’t bother trying at all.

Sadly, people – dismayed and discouraged by whatever challenge they want so badly to overcome, tell themselves, “there is no way I’m going to make this happen” – so they don’t even give it a shot. Or after a few failed attempts, they “throw in the towel” convinced they are wasting their time, money and energy.

This is especially true among singles looking for their elusive mate. After going out with dozens, even hundreds of “potential” mates, after years of attending Shabbatonim or going to singles’ events with no chuppah in sight – they give up. They insist they are done and stop trying.

The same can be said about couples whose infertility remain unresolved; those unemployed who have been job-seeking for a long time; those with serious medical problems; or those simply trying to lose weight. After months, years or even decades of failure to resolve their problem, they just give up.

We need to remind ourselves and absorb the words of Yehudah HaMacabee and his brothers when they heard that an army of 400,000 was coming to stop them and their small band of fighters. They said, “Let us fight unto death in defense of our souls and our Temple.”

They knew they were greatly outnumbered and that the odds were extremely high that they would be wiped out, but they made the decision to try. They did not give up, thinking, “What’s the point of fighting, we’re going to lose.” And then the miracle – they actually won. Had they given up and not attempted to do the impossible – there would be no Festival of Lights – very likely, no yiddishkeit.

Whatever the outcome, no doubt history would have viewed them as “winners” because making the effort is what counts. Giving up, doing nothing, wallowing in self-pity and defeat makes one a “loser.”

When we hear of the handful of Jews who escaped to Massada, and held off the Roman army for years, then killing themselves and their families rather than be enslaved when their fortress was finally breached, we view them as heroes not failures.

We honor their memory and those like them, for example, the starving, broken fighters of the Warsaw Ghetto who took on their Nazi oppressors and held them off for weeks – even though they must have known that they were doomed. We are in awe of them and all others throughout our history who “made the effort” despite the fact that they must have known failure was inevitable. They refused to listen to ” the facts” – shrugging off the logical inner voice that warned, “Don’t even think about it – you’re going to fail” and went ahead anyhow.

Sometimes there is a happy ending despite the cold, hard facts, as with the Maccabbees. Sometimes the older/divorced/widowed single does get an “ezer kenegdoh.” Sometimes health is regained despite a doctor’s grave prognosis; sometimes a couple longing for years for a child finally becomes a family. Sometimes, someone unemployed for what seemed forever gets that elusive job.

And sometimes there is no happy ending. Cherished dreams and goals go unfulfilled. But the lesson of Chanukah is to try, to face possible failure – and defy it. To not take “no” for an answer and when success remains elusive, to take a break, “lick your wounds” and try again.

There may come a time when one has to stop and accept Hashem’s will. When all attempts, all avenues are exhausted. When and if that happens, know that despite this unwanted outcome, you tried, you persisted and you did your best. That in itself makes you the winner.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/magazine/on-our-own/success-is-in-the-trying/2009/12/09/

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