Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Middos, Anyone?

My grandmother recently ventured into my neighborhood. She was here for an appointment, and figured she'd make a quick visit to a friend. She got out of the car right in front of the woman's house, and told me to drive around the corner, and come back to find a parking spot. The hostess said she'd send someone out to help my grandmother up the step.

When I returned, she was still outside. She told me that the woman had not yet arrived, she spotted a young Yeshiva boy, (about 15 years old--I saw him as I drove up the block) and asked him to help her up the one isolated step, which did not have a railing.

"Can't." he responded. "Can't you do it yourself?" he asked. "Do you think I'd be asking you if I was able to do it myself?" my grandmother answered. "I can't help you." The boy repeated, and started to walk away. "Do you want to be a Chossid Shoteh?" my grandmother asked. He was gone.

After reporting this to my friends, they were Dan L'Kaf Zchut. "Maybe he was in a hurry," one suggested. "Maybe he isn't strong enough." "Maybe he didn't know what he had to do." "Maybe he ...." But I had answers for all of them.

Stories like these are further proof that some Yeshivas (since I know young men who would never hesitate to help an old woman, even if it does mean touching her) are forgetting the idea of Middos. They're learning the Halachos, and the restrictions, but what about helping someone??

This story also reminds me of a book that I read when I was little, so if I screw up details, forgive me. There were two kids who decided they were going to do a big Mitzvah one day. They sat on the couch, waiting for their big Mitzvah. As they sat, they turned down many "small" opportunities for a Mitzvah, like a parent telling them to do something, and others. The irony of the story was that they were trying so hard to do a mitzvah, they completely disregarded so many mitzvos presented to them.

This young man was met with an opportunity to do a Mitzvah. But he chose not to, foolishly thinking that the mitzvah was not to touch an elderly lady.

Is it the Yeshivas? Is it the parents? Is it just him?

Monday, April 10, 2006

Whose Fault is it?

Any way you slice it, Pesach is expensive.

I'm not even talk about those who spend amounts of money that could buy a car on a mere 8 days in a hotel. That was last year's Pesach piece.

Your average family in Brooklyn will inevtiably spend, only on food and wine, approximately $1,000.

Someone who lives out of town, and doesn't buy his own Matza asked my father, "How much is a pound of hand Shmura these days?" My father responded, "about $16," and was met with, "Chillul Hashem." I understand, they have to pay the workers, they have to pay rent for the factory, as well as ingredients and maintenance. But tell me how flour and water can add up to $16 a pound. Then we get broken matzos half the time that you can't use for the Seder, so that tricks you into buying a few extra boxes knowing that you need 3 whole ones per man for 2 Sedarim. But it's food for a Mitzvah, and they work hard to provide us with something we cannot make ourselves. So, Hakoras HaTov I guess.

That's not even so bad once you think about the take-out. The exploitation is front and center, and even moreso, SHAMELESS. We had Pesachdik take-out for Shabbos, and the prices were exoribitant. What's the difference between this and the "Chametzdik" smoked turkey breast? Nothing. They charge more because they know they can. Most things sold in take-out stores are not Chametzdik to begin with. So if they need to use Cottonseed Oil and Kosher L'Pesach mayo, there is not much of a price difference there. Not on the Supermarket level, at least. Potato salad? Same thing. Cucumber salad, cole slaw, chicken cutlets, (except the breading, and potato starch is pretty darn cheap) Zucchini, Potato Kugel? SAME THING.

Okay, so they make some new products for Pesach to make up for the Pasta salad, rice, and other Kitnyot and Chametz foods. But this is an excuse to charge $10/lb for kugels?? To raise the prices of things that are identical to what's sold all year? I just don't see the need for it. I see it draining the money out of our pockets. I know, I know, you don't HAVE to buy take-out, and by doing so, you're allowing them to take advantage. Okay, fair argument. There are people who don't eat any take-out on Pesach because of Kashrus. Won't get into that one.

But what about the meat?

Raw freakin' meat. Certainly, they jack up the prices. That's sick. Meat is meat is meat. It's not Chametz all year, so what happens Pesach time? Guess what, there has been Chametz in your meat all year. That's why Atkins hasn't worked. There was leaven bread hidden in your meat. Until about 3 weeks before Pesach.

So, about 3 weeks before Pesach, all meat has a "Kosher L'Pesach" sticker on it, and to go along with that, higher prices. This is not so our neurotic overly-prepared neighbors can start meat shopping in advance.It's a moneymaker for the meat people. They know that people buying meat for Chametz have no options and have to spend more, hence a longer period of time to reep in an extra profit. No wonder the meat guy I know drives a $60,000 SUV.

Again, like Matza, meat isn't something that we can all prepare on our own. We're not all Shochtim and all that. So we're at their mercy, and they take great advantage of that. This meat thing is just a blatant demand for more money for no good reason. Chillul Hashem.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Get me an SOB, you SOB!

My friends and I were at a wedding recently where they had an open bar.

I've tried a few beverages, but my favorite is Sex on the Beach. Not because I'm 15 and think it's cool to say the word "sex." I'm over that. I hear it all day in Brooklyn College, and on TV, so I'm not at that stage where I order the drink just so I can sound cool and say that word.

When I told my friends my beverage of choice, and that I was bashful of ordering it, one friend suggested I request an SOB. My initial reaction was, "why offend the bartender?"
In my world, SOB means a Son of a B****, which is quite offensive.

I don't know about you, but I'd rather order a "Sex on the Beach" over a "Son of a B" anyday.