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Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Sukkois Drasha

THE COLLECTED WRITINGS OF RABBI PINKY SCHMECKELSTEIN

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Sukkois Drasha

On this holiday, the yuntif of Sukkois, we wave fresh fruit at the sky for seven days, and eat in an open air beehive. We cap it off by dancing cheek to cheek with a bunch of bearded men. (I have a date with a talmid named Yerachmiel; I hope I get lucky!)

According to Chazzal, Sukkois is the time when Moshiach will come. And according to Reb Hai Goyn, it is the holiday when you are supposed to separate yourself from the secular world. He cites as proof the fact that you are forced to take off so many work days right before end of year reviews, you might as well start polishing up your resume.

The RI holds that Sukkois is actually a celebration of homosexuality. When Klal Yisroel were preparing for the long winter, planting in the fields by day and sleeping in huts at night, at the end of a long day they would sit down bichavrusa (in pairs) and study a little Talmud. One minute they are on daf yud baiz, amud alef, and the next minute they are on the floor, committing Mishkav Zachor. And who can blame them? I get excited by a gevaldik Toisfois myself!

The RI cites various Sukkois practices as proof for his position:

- We wave our phallic lulavim on the faces of all the other men, boasting about how ours is the biggest in the shul;

- Alongside our lulav is our esroig, where the gemarrah tells us that the more bulbous and full of veins, the better;

- We commit a sadomasochistic act with a handful of willow branches;

- We dance around the Toirah with other men, our fingers firmly entwined with others' hot, sweaty, hairy hands.

However, most Rishoinim disagree with the RI, referring to his rather abrupt departure from his position as director of the all boys Orthodox summer camp in Northern Lithuania (although they settled out of Baiz Din, so no one can prove a damn thing).

The RIF points to the beauty of the Sukkah celebration as a unique mitzvah within Yiddishkeit. Fresh fruit. The outdoors. Many Rishoinim hold that you should live in the Sukkah for eights days. It says in the Gemmarah that Rish Lakish would move into the Sukkah, and use it as an excuse for not having to deal with his mother in law all week. Rav Ashi, on the other hand, insisted that his mother in law sleep in the Sukkah, and take one or two of the kids with her.

The Sukkah offers many opportunities to be Hiddur Mitzvah, to go above and beyond the letter of the commandment. It is customary to decorate the Sukkah with pictures and other decorations. (Vooz iz givehn plastic fruit, anyway? I understand the Reform decorate their Sukkahs with shrimp.)

According to Rabbeinu Tam, it is actually a Mitzvah Dioraisa to buy Christmas decorations in January at fifty percent off, to be used in decorating the Sukkah the following year: Flashing lights. Ornaments. Candy canes. Indeed, one year the Vilna Goyn decorated his Sukkah with a nativity scene he bought for six dollars.

There are other things that one can do with a Sukkah. A Braisah brings down a story of Rabbi Elazar Ben Azariah, who, as a teenager, had the roof removed from his family's minivan so that he could drive down to the beach and be mekayaim the mitzvois of pleasuring his girlfriend and eating in the sukkah at the same time. What a tzaddik!

Yet the most beautiful element of Sukkois, and the aspect most shrouded in mystery, is the mitzvah of esroig. I still can't figure it out. It looks like a lemon. It smells like a lemon. It even tastes like a lemon. But it costs as much as heroin. How come it is easier to buy fresh peaches from Antarctica than it is to buy an esroig at a reasonable price?

And how many times in your life have you heard of esroig jelly. I bet you have heard of it all your life, but have NEVER seen it. You know why? Imagine this boast to your friends and neighbors: "I took 100 esroigim that last week retailed for a total of $5,000, mixed them up with a little sugar and pectin, and now it's worth about $1.50." Really impressive.

For this reason, I have a personal minhag. Two days before Sukkois, I buy 5 pounds of lemons in the supermarket, take them home, and then take a baseball bat to them. After about ten minutes of beating the crap out of them, I have plenty esroigim for myself and the kinderlach, and sell the remainder in the shul. With the extra money I buy some cologne, so I can smell nice for my dancing partner on Simchas Toirah night.

Ah Gutten Yuntif, you Minuval.

On this holiday, the yuntif of Sukkois, we wave fresh fruit at the sky for seven days, and eat in an open air beehive. We cap it off by dancing cheek to cheek with a bunch of bearded men. (I have a date with a talmid named Yerachmiel; I hope I get lucky!)

According to Chazzal, Sukkois is the time when Moshiach will come. And according to Reb Hai Goyn, it is the holiday when you are supposed to separate yourself from the secular world. He cites as proof the fact that you are forced to take off so many work days right before end of year reviews, you might as well start polishing up your resume.

The RI holds that Sukkois is actually a celebration of homosexuality. When Klal Yisroel were preparing for the long winter, planting in the fields by day and sleeping in huts at night, at the end of a long day they would sit down bichavrusa (in pairs) and study a little Talmud. One minute they are on daf yud baiz, amud alef, and the next minute they are on the floor, committing Mishkav Zachor. And who can blame them? I get excited by a gevaldik Toisfois myself!

The RI cites various Sukkois practices as proof for his position:

- We wave our phallic lulavim on the faces of all the other men, boasting about how ours is the biggest in the shul;

- Alongside our lulav is our esroig, where the gemarrah tells us that the more bulbous and full of veins, the better;

- We commit a sadomasochistic act with a handful of willow branches;

- We dance around the Toirah with other men, our fingers firmly entwined with others' hot, sweaty, hairy hands.

However, most Rishoinim disagree with the RI, referring to his rather abrupt departure from his position as director of the all boys Orthodox summer camp in Northern Lithuania (although they settled out of Baiz Din, so no one can prove a damn thing).

The RIF points to the beauty of the Sukkah celebration as a unique mitzvah within Yiddishkeit. Fresh fruit. The outdoors. Many Rishoinim hold that you should live in the Sukkah for eights days. It says in the Gemmarah that Rish Lakish would move into the Sukkah, and use it as an excuse for not having to deal with his mother in law all week. Rav Ashi, on the other hand, insisted that his mother in law sleep in the Sukkah, and take one or two of the kids with her.

The Sukkah offers many opportunities to be Hiddur Mitzvah, to go above and beyond the letter of the commandment. It is customary to decorate the Sukkah with pictures and other decorations. (Vooz iz givehn plastic fruit, anyway? I understand the Reform decorate their Sukkahs with shrimp.)

According to Rabbeinu Tam, it is actually a Mitzvah Dioraisa to buy Christmas decorations in January at fifty percent off, to be used in decorating the Sukkah the following year: Flashing lights. Ornaments. Candy canes. Indeed, one year the Vilna Goyn decorated his Sukkah with a nativity scene he bought for six dollars.

There are other things that one can do with a Sukkah. A Braisah brings down a story of Rabbi Elazar Ben Azariah, who, as a teenager, had the roof removed from his family's minivan so that he could drive down to the beach and be mekayaim the mitzvois of pleasuring his girlfriend and eating in the sukkah at the same time. What a tzaddik!

Yet the most beautiful element of Sukkois, and the aspect most shrouded in mystery, is the mitzvah of esroig. I still can't figure it out. It looks like a lemon. It smells like a lemon. It even tastes like a lemon. But it costs as much as heroin. How come it is easier to buy fresh peaches from Antarctica than it is to buy an esroig at a reasonable price?

And how many times in your life have you heard of esroig jelly. I bet you have heard of it all your life, but have NEVER seen it. You know why? Imagine this boast to your friends and neighbors: "I took 100 esroigim that last week retailed for a total of $5,000, mixed them up with a little sugar and pectin, and now it's worth about $1.50." Really impressive.

For this reason, I have a personal minhag. Two days before Sukkois, I buy 5 pounds of lemons in the supermarket, take them home, and then take a baseball bat to them. After about ten minutes of beating the crap out of them, I have plenty esroigim for myself and the kinderlach, and sell the remainder in the shul. With the extra money I buy some cologne, so I can smell nice for my dancing partner on Simchas Toirah night.

Ah Gutten Yuntif, you Minuval.

Rabbi Pinky Schmeckelstein
Rosheshiva
Yeshiva Chipas Emmess

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Yom Kippur Drasha

THE COLLECTED WRITINGS OF RABBI PINKY SCHMECKELSTEIN

http://stores.lulu.com/rapas

=============================================================



Yom Kippur Drasha

You good for nothing minuval, you have sinned all year long, and now you are going to pay for it!

From Kol Nidrei at sundown until the blowing of the shofar, you will be cramped into an overcrowded room surrounded by unshowered, unshaven men whose empty stomachs are growling louder than the chazzan. But look at the bright side: at least you get your exercise. Between the frequent and incessant beating of your chest and the four instances of full kneeling, you have become a Moslem Tarzan. Boruch Hashem.

Chazzal spent many, many hours contemplating the true meaning of Yoim Kippur, while awaiting the horses to reach the finish line. There is a famous machloikess (rabbinic debate) in Yuma on the subject between Bais Shammai and Bais Hillel. Bais Shammai holds that the true commandment of the Toirah is that you should sin all year long, and then repent on Yoim Kippur. Bais Hillel, on the other hand, holds that you should strictly avoid sin all year long, and then enjoy a nice honey glazed ham right after Kol Nidrei. Of course, this is one of the fourteen instances when we hold like Bais Shammai (along with such critical issues as not using toilet paper on shabbos and the infield fly rule.)

The reshoinim struggled to define the metaphor by which we can understand how the Jewish People should look upon a single day in which they can redeem themselves for past mistakes and plan for the next year without the aid of a good tax advisor or financial planner.

According to the Rabbeinu Tam, Yoim Kippur is like an all day telethon, where the Aimishteh is raising funds and support for the coming year, and you are asked to contribute of your soul. The ROSH disagrees, using the same metaphor, but reversing it. Says the ROSH, YOU are hosting the telethon, and are appealing to the Rebboinoisheloilum for his support, and you refuse to go off the air until He is ready to write you a check. (And if He pledges 75 dollars or more, you'll send Him an autographed CD of Luciano Pavoratti in concert.)

The RIF holds that the true metaphor for Yoim Kippur is that of the annual performance review. Hakkodoshboruchhu is your manager, and at review time, He reaches out to your colleagues, your superiors, your subordinates, and your clients, soliciting feedback on your performance. He looks at your numbers. He checks how often you have been absent or late to shul. He then synthesizes the information and decides your fate. Will you be terminated? Will you get a raise? Will you get a better bonus? Will you get a hot new secretary?

But how can you protect yourself as the Aimishteh's employee? How can you best ensure a positive year? According to the Pas Akum, this metaphor explains one of the age old questions, which is: why does Sukkois so closely follow Yoim Kippur? Say the Aimishteh decides to terminate you. What can you do? Can you prove wrongful dismissal? Says the Pas Akum, we stand before Hakkodoshboruchhu four days after Yoim Kippur and wave our phallic looking palm branches at heaven as if to say, "if you terminate me, I'll sue you for sexual harassment!" And in the current politically correct environment, even He has to be careful.

We prepare for this holiest day of days with the greatest degree of sobriety. We set aside Ten Days Of Atonement for spiritual introspection. We say Selichois, special prayers beseeching the Aimishteh for forgiveness. We blow the shoifar, which is intended to strike an internal chord of repentance. And we wave a live chicken over our heads.

In the time of the Second Temple, there was a great debate over this strange practice. The Prushim (Pharasees) held that before Yoim Kippur, every Jewish male should take a chicken by the legs, wave it over the heads of his loved ones, as if to absorb their sins, and then send the chicken off to slaughter. We have recently learned from the Dead Sea Scrolls that the Essenes, on the other hand, held that before Yoim Kippur every Jewish male should choke the chicken, if you know what I mean. Given that the Essenes are not doing too well these days, I guess that was the wrong approach.

There is a famous story of Rabbi Chaim MiVerlozhin. Reb Chaim was traveling from town to town in Inner Mongolia, trying to raise money for his Yeshiva's IPO. When Yoim Kippur came, Reb Chaim went to the only shul in town just in time for Kol Nidrei. "We're sorry," he was told, "but you can't get in without a ticket." Not having purchased a ticket in advance, Reb Chaim was sent away, denied the opportunity to daven on Yoim Kippur in a minyan.

The next morning, as Reb Chaim went downstairs in the small hotel in which he was staying, the host greeted him saying, "Rabbi, please join us. The missus just made up a huge breakfast, including a fresh batch of muffins." Reflecting on his experience the night before, on his rejection at the shul, and at the prospect of having to daven for the next sixteen hours by himself, Reb Chaim took off his yarmulke, sat down at the table, and began to serve himself.

That night, the Aimishteh came to him. "Reb Chaim," the Aimishteh said, "why did you sin today?"

"I'm sorry, Aimishteh. I was so drained by the ticket thing I just had to grab a bite to eat," Reb Chaim responded.

"No, you fool," the Aimishteh replied. "Why did you let all that nice bacon go to waste?"

Repentance, and sin, are somewhat in the eye of the beholder. So when you are standing before the Melech Malchei Hamelachim at Neilah, don't just mouth the words; picture it as a conversation, one on one. Before you beg for forgiveness, establish rapport. Tell a couple of jokes. Ask the Aimishteh how He's doing. Ask about the wife and kids. Sure He's busy, but a little brown-nosing never hurts.

Gemar Chassima Toivah, you Vilda Chaya.


Rabbi Pinky Schmeckelstein
Rosheshiva
Yeshiva Chipas Emmess

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Tuesday, September 11, 2007

On the Essence of Prayer

THE COLLECTED WRITINGS OF RABBI PINKY SCHMECKELSTEIN

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On the Essence of Prayer

Rabboisai,

This week I respond to a shailah from a conscientious talmid concerned about the essence of his Tefilois.

David C. writes:

On Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur I took special notice of the inclusion of the pussuk “Shehaim Mishtachavim LaHevel VaRik Umitpallelim El El Lo Yoshiyah” in the Alenu prayer. Apparently, some people include this verse in their daily prayers, while others do not. What should I do?

David C.

Reb Duvid,

First, let me complement you on such a wonderful and insightful shailah resulting from what is obviously a high level of attentiveness during tefillah. You have only been davening for how many years, and you first noticed that there are parentheses around this passuk?! Next thing, you’ll ask if it is common that people should stand silently like schmucks for five minutes during Shacharis, Mincha and Maiyriv, and you’ll wonder why everyone sits down towards the end of Shacharis and Mincha, grabs a hold of their jacket, and smells their underarms. Very observant. Shkoiyach.

With regard to your question, the passuk you refer to translates as “They bow to emptiness and pray to a diety that will bring no salvation.” There is indeed a great machloikess – rabbinic debate – about the passuk’s inclusion in contemporary prayer, as it was originally removed to allay friction with the Catholic Church. And indeed, the BACH holds that the pussuk is in fact an indictment of the worship of Yushka Pandra. However, the TAZ notes that the BACH probably made this statement as a reflection of his resentment towards Catholicism, a resentment brought on by the BACH’s hot shiksa secretary consistently refusing to, err..., play “hide the tzaylem” with him, Rachmana Letzlan.

However, the actual intent of the reference of the word “Shehaim”, “They,” is nisht azaiy pashoot, not so simple. Who does the pussuk refer to when it says that “their” prayers are for naught? Chazal expended much effort on this theme, used up a few reams of paper, and were even compelled to change an ink cartridge on their printers.

According to the RAMBAN, the word “they” refers to Muslims. Says the RAMBAN, anyone who can strap suicide bombs on their men and dress their women in burkas that cover up 98 percent of their luscious, hot Mediterranean bodies won’t be having their prayers listened to by Hakkadoshboruchhu anytime soon.

But according to the Hai Goyn, the term “Shahaim” actually refers to women. They spend all day talking about their clothing, their architectural plans for the house, and the latest romance novel they read, while at the same time complaining about all they have to do regarding taking care of the kids, managing the household, and pursuing their careers. And at the end of a long day, they insist that you come home to have a gefilte fish party, if you know what I mean, while they continue to have no interest in getting fleishig by snacking on the party weenies. If they only channeled some of their ceaseless energy to better use, they could take on a third job so you and I could work less and study more Toirah.

However, according to Reb Yoisaiph Cairo, the “they” refers to Ashkenazic Jews, with their matzoh balls, their pale skin and their big noses. They think they created Yiddishkeit, and hold up as fundamental tenets of their faith the notions that Moishe Rabbeinu was an accountant, Eliyahu Hanavi was a pediatric gynecologist, and Yankif Avinu spoke with a Lithuanian accent (Voos?!) Do you think that Hakkadoshboruchhu would ever want to listen to them? If their wives won’t, why the hell should He?

According to the RAMAH, the pussuk actually refers to Sephardim, with their swarthy looks, their hairy backs, and their siddur that the Aimishteh Himself couldn’t follow along in. Question: Why does a Sephardi eat rice and beans on Peysach instead of eating only Shmurah Matzoh like a real Jew? Answer: So he can save money in order to buy magic oil amulets from his turban-wearing-Rabbi. Says that RAMAH, Sephardim aren’t even Jews – between their ululations (Lululululululu!!!!) and their henna parties, they are either Shiite or Hindu, but they certainly aren’t Yiddin.

Finally, according to the Vilna Goyn, the work “Shehaim” refers to Chassidim. Why would the Reboinoisheloilum want to spend any time listening to men who wear fur hats in ninety degree weather anyway? And what’s with that gartel thing? Koolay almah lo pleegee -- everybody holds, Misnagdim and Chassidim alike – that the elastic waistband in a person’s underwear functions as an adequate separation between his upper body and lower body during prayer. So why do Chassidim wear a gartel at davening? Very simple – because they don’t wear underwear! And do you think that Hakadoshboruchhu will listen to someone with his schvantzlach hanging out?

So what does it all mean? What and who does the pussuk of “Shehaim Mishtachavim” refer to?

The Tefillah of Aleynu is considered to be quite old, and there is even the suggestion that the prayer goes back to the time of the Bais Hamikdash and was a central prayer in the Avoidah. So the Tefillah itself predates Christianity, Islam, the geographic splintering of Ashkenazim and Sephardim, and certainly the establishment of Chassidoos. The Tefilla doesn’t pre-date women, chass v’sholom, but given that women were not allowed into the Bais Hamikdash, the Koihain Gadol would not have wanted to mention them, lest he incur the wrath of the Aimishteh, who, we are told in Beraishis Rabbah, is a complete misogynist. So the pussuk cannot refer to any of the above-mentioned groups.

However, we may be able to detect a clue from the pussuk in question itself. The latter clause of the pussuk, “Umispallelim El El Lo Yoishiyah,” is a direct quote from a pussuk in Sefer Yishayahu, Perek Mem Hey, Pussuk Chuff (Isaiah, Chapter 45, Verse 20). If we look at the original context, Yishayahu HaNavi makes a prophecy addressed to the Persian King Koiresh. Now, how Yishayahu, who lived at the time of Chizkiyahu HaMelech during Bayis Rishoyn, can be speaking to a Persian king who lived two hundred years after him, I have no idea. Maylah, maybe he had a time machine. Or maybe Koiresh heard the prophecy in a podcast on his Royal I-Pod.

In any case, the original context of the Perek in Yishayahu upon which the pussuk in Aleynu is based is a contrast between the monotheistic faith of Klal Yisroel and the Pagan faiths of their neighbors (not including Persians, who, via Koiresh, are viewed as heroes). It is a rejection of pagan prayer vessels, e.g., idols, but also specifically rejects pagan beliefs and philosophies, such as creation of the world as “Chaos.” Consequently, the world described in the pussuk is not the world of today. It is a world of classical avoidah zorah, a world that no longer exists, at least outside of 770 Eastern Parkway.

I personally do not recite this pussuk, just in case the guy standing next to me in shul is secretly a devil worshipping pagan sent to spy on Klal Yisroel for the purposes of shmad, or is a Buddhist working for the IRS. So should people who choose to say the pussuk continue to do so?

I am reminded of a beautiful vort given by Rabbi Nachman MiBreslov. Rabbi Nachman was visiting Minsk one Shabbos. On of his followers, a short Jew names Shloimi came up to him and asked, “Rebbi Nachman, is it true that if I say the letters of your name over and over again, it will bring about the geulah?”

Rebbi Nachman smiled and put his arm around Shloimi. Then he hugged him. Them he started humming a tune, a special niggun usually sung before drinking shots of vodka on a Friday night.

After a few minutes, Shloimi looked up and asked, “so, Rebbe, what is the answer to my question.”

Rebbi Nachman let go of his follower and looked at him. “Reb Shloimi, you tell me: Does it make sense that saying my name, the name of a flesh and blood being, again and again, will bring about redemption?”

“No,” Shloimi responded.

“And you figured that one out all by yourself, you schmendrick?”

“Yes.” Shloimi’s voice cracked as he began to turn a bright shade of red.

“Then why ask such a question in the first place? Use a bit of common sense, for Chrissakes! I am your spiritual advisor, but if what you really need is someone to make every decision for you, go home to your mother. Toirah requires you to use your brain and is not a substitute for your mother’s teat!”

So, my beloved Reb Duvid, I must say the same thing to you. It seems rather obvious that this pussuk is not relevant to today, certainly as a contrast to the Christian and Muslim worlds, both of which have adopted forms of Monotheism rooted in our great tradition. Moreover, this pussuk denies the essence of the Neshama with which all human beings were created, Jews and non-Jews alike, and by which we are all linked to Hakadoshboruchhu. But if it makes you feel better to say the pussuk, gizunteh heit. After all, the Aimishteh probably isn’t listening to you anyway.

Ah Gutten Yuntif, You Minuval.

Rabbi Pinky Schmeckelstein
Rosheshiva
Yeshiva Chipas Emmess

Roish Hashanah Drasha

THE COLLECTED WRITINGS OF RABBI PINKY SCHMECKELSTEIN

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=============================================================


Roish Hashanah Drasha

Before I begin my Roish Hashanah drasha, I must first respond to the thousands of e-mails and telephone calls which have flooded in from talmidim such as yourself wondering where I was last week. Truth be told, I was grabbing my last days of summer vacation in the bungalow colony, swatting at the mosquitos at night as I listened to my neighbors the Heimowitzsteinbergs being mekayim the mitzvah of Pru Urvu with the window open. He's 400 pounds, she's 350. Between the two of them it's like the annual running of the bulls. I found this so disturbing I was unable to write any Divrei Toirah.

But I have since returned to the Bais Medrish in my Yeshiva, where our talmidim are studying twenty-two hours a day in preparation for the Yomim Noraim (High Holidays), as well as for their upcoming Real Estate license exams.

This week we will celebrate and embrace the New Year, pray for forgiveness of our past sins, and moan about the need to pay extra for seats when we are already spending too much as it is on annual synagogue membership.

In a famous Mishnah in Masechta Roish Hashanah, Rabban Gamliel asks why synagogues charge for seats on the High Holidays -- shouldn't they embrace all who attend services and not put up any potential barriers to their participation? In the Gemarrah, Rav Pappa builds on this question, pointing out that Jewish communal responsibilities also include Yeshiva tuition, kosher food and paying off the annoying schnorrers who show up at our doors uninvited. So why must shuls engage in Lifnei Iver and chase away any returnees to the faith?

Toisfois offers a gevaldik answer to this question, based on lessons we learn from Yaakov and Eisav. As Eisav returns from a day of hunting empty handed and hungry, Yaakov tricks Eisav into surrendering his birthright by giving him a bowl of lentil soup in exchange. Says Toisfois, we must choose to be like one or the other -- either fiscally bankrupt like Eisav, or morally bankrupt like Yankif Avinu. And clearly most shuls in our day choose the latter.

This rabbinic shakuvetaria (discourse) very much helps to define and capture the essence of our existential quandary at this time of year. The question really is: why do we have one special point in the year for repentance and renewal; are we not always encouraged, and even invited, to improve ourselves, or to at least make a healthy donation? Indeed, what is the nature of the choice that confronts us? How does Roish Hashanah help us along a new path?

(And an additional key question is: why was I assigned THAT seat, next to that guy I can't stand, and so far from the aisle that I may as well pee in my pants during mussaf?)

The classical answer is that the sound of the shoifar-- the ram's horn -- is intended to awaken within us our innate desire to embrace the Aimishteh through repentance and the fulfilling of Kol HaToirah Kooloh. Clearly, whoever came up with this response never heard the shoifar blown in the Yeshiva where I received Smicha (rabbinical ordainment), where, to insure that each shofar note is 100% koisher, they repeat the blows again and again. And again. And again. It's enough to make the Rosheshiva himself pray to Yushka for salvation.

Reb Hai Gaon offers an alternate answer, suggesting that Roish Hashanah is like a woman getting a facial. Sure she can put on makeup every day, but the act of spending eighty-five dollars to get her pores cleansed makes the meeskeit at least FEEL prettier.

Rabbi Akiva Eigar points to the three central themes of the Roish Hashanah liturgy as providing the answer: Malchiyois, Zichroinois, and Shoifrois. Malchiyois represents the father, Zichroinois the son, and Shoifrois the holy ghost. Of course, Reb Akiva is known for his secret affinity for Catholicism and his attraction to hot nuns.

But the Chassam Soifer points to the same three themes. He says that Malchiyois, the theme of the Kingdom of heaven, is like your father, who, no matter how successful you have become, is always ready to tell you what a disappointment you are.. Zichroinois, the theme of heavenly remembrance, is like your mother, who, no matter how old you are, will always remind you of how you used to wet your bed. And Shoifrois, the theme of the sound of the shofar, is like your mother-in-law, whose constant talking and picking and nagging and complaining leaves a mind-numbing, deafening ringing in your ears.

Of course, we set the pattern for the coming year on Roish Hashanah. My alter zeidey used to tell me not to sleep on Roish Hashanah because that would cause me to have a farshlufinah year. I have always taken that lesson to heart. Consequently, I have a personal minhag to ride my bashert, Feigah Breinah, like a shtender in the afternoon of Roish Hashanah, in order to guarantee a new year with LOTS OF ACTION. All the while, the einiklach and kinderlach are out poisoning the fish with leftover challah from last week.

It is also critical that our Teshuvah be sincere and complete, not like your usual insincere prayers, you vilda chaya, when you anxiously await the guy who knows all the sports scores to show up at shul. We need to commit to renouncing sin in our everyday lives in order to be true Bnei and Bnois Toirah. A few suggestions for the coming year:

-- Stop buying from Macy's. Macy's sells shatnez, and if you continue to buy there, someone may mistakenly assume you are buying shatnez, and believe it is okay to buy shatnez too.

-- Start using your 300 dollar set of shass more. If not for learning, at least for the benefit of lifting those heavy books. Reboinoishelloilum knows, you can stand to lose a few pounds.

-- Don't let your wife distract you from Toirah. You should seek every opportunity to go into the other room and pick up a chumash, or go to your weekly shiur. Watching your twelve kids so your wife can have a ten minute break is no excuse for Bittul Toirah!

-- Grow your payiss to be long enough to have monkeys swing from them. You never know when you'll be at a chassanah at the zoo and you'll have the chance to be mesamaiach the chussen and kallah.

-- Next time you sneak out for a little traifus, remember to make a Shehakol on your pork. After all, the Aimishteh created it too.

-- When you are in the middle of being mezaneh with your wife, instead of delaying your passion by thinking of baseball players, think of famous Chassidic masters instead. Unless, of course, you get excited by bearded men with shaved heads. In which case, stick with the baseball players.

In taking these measures, we will greet the new year with a deeper commitment to making the world a better place and embracing all mankind, in order to maximize our tax deductions, improve interest rates in the coming year, and bring peace between the Eskimos and the Mongolians.

A chessiva v'chasima toivah, you minuval.

Rabbi Pinky Schmeckelstein
Rosheshiva
Yeshiva Chipas Emmess