Tuesday, December 18, 2012

YU-Connects To-Go 5773 - Divrei Torah About Dating and Marriage

After a delay due to hurricane Sandy, the YUConnects along with Yeshiva University's Center for the Jewish Future have published a collection of Divrei Torah and professional insights about dating and marriage that are authored by numerous well-respected Roshei Yeshiva, rabbeim, teachers, doctors and professionals.

I am a big of the To-Go booklets of Divrei Torah, and always make sure a batch gets delivered to our shul. If you're lucky, your congregation will have these available shortly, but if they run out or happened to not have ordered any, all the articles are available online to download for free. 

Here are the various different articles and their authors:

Enjoy! I hope the insights contained in these Divrei Torah and articles will inspire daters and shadchanim alike.

Monday, December 17, 2012

The Shanda of "Chrismukkah"


This article on CNN, which is titled "Celebrating Chrismukkah: Shalom Stockings and Hanukkah Bushes," showcases a deeply troublesome trend that is growing in America, and perhaps elsewhere in the world. Interfaith couples, seemingly more male-Jewish, female-Christian have found a way to circumvent their cognitive dissonance by "blending" their two traditions together into a mish-mash of trees with Jewish stars and other Judaica-related ornaments.

To me, this whole phenomenon is a shanda - or in English, a total embarrassment.

Seriously?! Does any Jewish person in their right mind NOT find this offensive?
In an attempt to cover up and ignore the blatant incompatibility of the two vastly different, contradictory, and historically belligerent (more so in the direction of Christian --> Judaism) religious perspectives, these couples have watered down the essence of their distinct beliefs and mushed them together into an incomprehensible facade of a holiday.

It's a poorly designed artifice that consists of a bright, shiny, and attractive gilded coating that disguises the sheer worthlessness of rot within.

While attending a recent family Chanukah party, I spoke with a female cousin who is married to a Christian man. Their son, now 6-years old, is living a lift of total conflict of identity. His mother and grandmother (his maternal grandfather is no longer living) strongly encourage him to partake in Jewish activities, celebrate the holidays with our family, attend their local Jewish day school, and go to shul on occasion. However, with the lack of a Jewish father figure of any sort, along with contemptuous and contradictory opinions being espoused by his father, the boy doesn't have a source of Jewish instruction like he should at his age.

He is stifled. He has expressed on his own that he desires to come to shul every Shabbos and do other things with his more observant friends and classmates (who have a complete set of Jewish parents), but he is often prevented from doing so either because his father overtly objects, or there simply isn't anyone to guide him, teach him, or accompany him to shul.

My cousin summed it up quite poignantly by admitting with a sigh, "It's actually a very bad thing to marry outside the faith."

I've never heard another intermarried person ever admit that aloud. I hope she somehow figures out to raise her son in an appropriate Jewish way... but for now I weep for the boy.

I have another relative on the other side of the family, this one male, who married a Christian woman, and after many years of marriage, she not only has exerted her domineering influence over their halachically non-Jewish children, but brainwashed this relative into following her whole-heartedly into her world of religious observance. He now detests the rest of us - his Jewish relatives, even those who aren't observant, and doesn't come to any family functions (to which my parents invite everyone, regardless of level of religious observance or marital status), because she has warped him into finding our religious beliefs distasteful. To me, this is a horrifying example of what the Torah tells us; that marrying daughters of other religions will lead us astray after their religion.

To be clear: I have nothing against non-Jewish people. I am more than happy that they celebrate and observe their holidays and beliefs/traditions. They have their role to play in our world, contribute to the growth and productivity of society, have every right to exist, and even merit a portion in the World to Come as long as they keep the 7 Mitzvos of the Bnei Noach. We all exist together b'tzelem Elokim, all fulfilling our distinct jobs in this physical existence.

What irks me to no end are the self-deluding Jewish people (and their significant others) who think they can inter-date and intermarry and end up okay. It simply won't happen. They'll be lost to us, and their children after them will be lost to us.

Our halacha and observances will be subsumed under the general wishy-washy conglomeration that has characterized Christianity from the start, as it absorbed and adopted the multitude of local pagan practices from the peoples it engulfed as it spread around the world.

Lighting a Chanukiah next to a Christmas tree is a complete and utter contradiction and slap-in-the-face to what the Maccabees risked and gave their lives to achieve in recapturing and purifying the Beis Hamikdash. They shed their blood to remove the foreign influences from the central physical manifestation of our connection to G-d, and we light the Chanukiah to remember their sacrifice, bravery, and commitment to Torah and Mitzvos above assimilation and adoption of beliefs incongruent to our own.

The mere fact that these individuals in the CNN article can find meaning in a blended tradition shows how weak and inane their own Judaism is. If you have no foundation, then there is nothing to build on. Even if you do have a foundation - say significant Jewish day school through Bar/Bat Mitzvah age - unless you continue to build on top of that with further Jewish education, all you have is a big cement block embedded in the ground, upon which almost anything can be placed - even if it is contradictory to that which you began life with.

I've seen it happen to several of my own peers who attended the same Orthodox day school as I did, from the 2-year-olds through the 8th grade. It's as though they simply chucked everything they had learned out the window the last time they left the building. High school was a period of freedom and exploration, without any meaningful connection to Judaism, college was no better, and now a few of them have actually intermarried. One, thank G-d, got divorced recently, but another has already had a child with his non-Jewish wife.

All this makes me very frustrated and sad. I wish these wayward Jews would see the error of their ways. This is not a post about kiruv on the whole, but the crossing (no pun intended) of a line that should never, ever be crossed in the first place. In my view, these individuals can be as non-observant as they want to be (though of course being observant of Torah and Mitzvos is the ideal and should be encouraged), but they can't date and marry gentiles. If someone isn't shomer Shabbos and kashrus, but generally still cares about Judaism, even nominally, then their is hope to engage him or her and help them return to the fold. For someone who has made that treacherous decision to choose a life partner who isn't from our people, I don't know what to say or do with him/her other than say I feel betrayed.

They have betrayed their G-d, their people, their families and friends, their parents, and most of all, themselves.

No amount of newfangled, kitschy Chrismukkah traditions will ever make up for that. Fluff remains fluff - utter nonsense - without real, meaningful connection to that which we know to be absolute Truth.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Just A Maccabee, Looking For A Victory, Lifting Up My Eyes To The Sky-y-y-y Above!

I had to share this particular Chanukah parody music video in its own post since a good friend of mine was the driving force behind it and put it all together for San Diego NCSY. It's also a particularly fun song since they've finally used a different secular song as the basis instead of the umpteen "Gangnam Style" or "Some Nights" parodies that are out there.

I present: "Am Yisrael Chai," a parody of Train's "Drive By."

I must say, it's quite catchy and stands out among the other songs out there this year. The flip-book animations are also particularly neat and unique.

Great job guys!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Christmas Lights = Attempt To One-Up The Chanukiah?

As I was driving home last night after a quick trip to Walgreens, I passed by several gentile homes with decorative displays of lights all around the exterior of their homes, along with well-lit Christmas trees displayed prominently in a central window.

A bit further on my return trip, I passed by our Jewish neighbors and saw their Chanukiot still burning in a front window on display for all to see.

Then an idea hit me.

Akin to many of their religious rituals and beliefs, are the Christmas lights meant to be another Christian attempt to replace/outdo our own religious practice of lighting the Chanukiah in a window, or back in the day, on a doorstep?

I was fascinated to discover that the original "minhag" for these lights was to have candles decorating Christmas trees in upper class homes. Of course, this was before electricity, but nevertheless, the parallel imagery struck me.

Our lights serve to publicize the Chanukah miracle, the miraculous victory of the Chashmona'im and the miracle of the oil remaining lit for 8 days and nights in the Menorah of the Beis Hamikdash. By lighting our Chanukiot, we are adding a bit of spiritual light to the darkness of the general world... but are they trying to copy us?

In a way, this idea seems quite strange. Instead of darkness trying to swallow our Chanukah lights, as has been the image found in many mussar schmoozes, there are now many, many more lights of all different kinds out there that are usually more grandiose, public, and eye-catching than our Chanukiot sitting on the windowsill.

And yet, that seems to be precisely the point.

For all the elaborate set ups, intricate details, pretty colors and high electric bills, there is no substance or soul to the practice of setting up strings of lights on a tree or on the outside of one's home. It's nice, it gives the family something to do together, it's tradition... but is there any depth or spirituality to it?

My answer is no.

Whereas the gentile world puts up their holiday lights for fun, for sport, or for ego inflation, we light the Chanukiah and recite blessings that acknowledge the past events and miracles that demonstrate our continued sense of gratitude to HaShem, as well as the continuity and meaning of the Maccabee's struggle against the assimilation and Hellenization of the Greek culture and values.

We don't need an ostentatious display that has a "wow" factor to achieve our purpose. Sometimes simplicity is elegance in and of itself. By lighting the Chanukiah, we connect back to our forefathers before us, going all the way back to the original establishment of the holiday following the re-dedication of the Beis Hamikdash and our renewed spiritual connection, relationship and service of HaShem.

The other lights that appear during this time of year are nothing more than distractions, background "noise" that attracts the eye but gives no substance in return.

In Haneiros Hallalu, we say that the Chanukah lights are not to be benefited from, but only to be looked upon. In doing so, we can reflect on their origin, think back to the Menorah in the Beis Hamikdash, and realize how much we've lost in its absence. However, we can also contemplate what we need to do to merit its return. We can open our minds to spiritual revitalization that the Maccabees spear-headed, and tap into the spiritual energy that permeates this time of year. Just as we say in Al Hanissim, we recognize the past events and miracles, right along their continued residual energy that reappears every year when the cycle of Jewish holidays turns once again and we arrive at this point in time

I hope we can all take the time to stop whatever we're doing and gaze at the Chanukah lights and take the time to think to ourselves about our spiritual well-being and what we can do to improve it. How can we take our own internal light, the pintele Yid, and cultivate it to become a brilliant flame that will light up our spiritual light, and even provide light for others whose internal sparks may be dim or partially smothered by spiritually harmful influences.

Just as Chazal mention that a fire can be shared without diminishing its original source, may we all merit to share our own spirituality, the Torah we've learned, and our yearning for a closer relationship and service to HaShem. By spreading the light, may we reach an illumination great enough to enlighten the world at large, and bring the ultimate source of light back to Earth with the rebuilding of the Beis Hamikdash, bimheira biyameinu.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Fantastic Musical Proposal Video

Eric, the fellow starring in this cute music video that details his proposal to his fiancee whom he met on J-date, is quite the talented guy. I'm very impressed with the overall quality and creativity shown in the arrangement, choreography and seemingly random bits of humor thrown in (the male ballet dancer?).

I think he's got the Maccabeats and Y-Studs proposals beat.

Maybe we should have an annual competition for Jewish musical proposal videos? The winner could get an appearance by the Maccabeats (or someone else of their choice) at their wedding or chuppah.

So, female readers - what would you think if your gentleman caller and hoping to be fiance made a production such as this for you?

Friday, December 7, 2012

Another Maccabeats Marriage Update

My last post on the subject of the marriage availability of the members of the Maccabeats was this past January, with a new image that was subsequently updated in February - and is now outdated.

The updated graphic, as well as its original version, are the most (and basically only) downloaded files from my blog. I wanted to set the record straight so people, probably eager female fans, will stop downloading the  old picture.

Not only have several Maccabeats gotten married, there is also a NEW Maccabeat (and former Y-Stud) who has joined the group.

Click to enlarge.
The Members of The Maccabeats
Also, We will now have a separate availability graphic for the members of Standfour.

The members of StandFour
So for all those girls and potential mothers-in-law out there hoping for a Maccabeat Marriage - time is running out! 

...Unless there are more new (single) Maccabeats added in the future.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Yosef: A True Role Model For Today

Whenever we are reading the parshiyos that discuss the lives and actions of the patriarchs and the fathers of the twelve tribes, I often here people talking about their exalted, holy level of existence, far above our own imperfect way of living. This is usually a result of over reliance on viewing them through a Midrashic lens, interpreting anything potentially problematic in their behavior in a starkly positive light.

However, approaching the Avos and their offspring in this way, in my view, puts too much of a distance between us and our progenitors. By doing this, we place them on a pedestal of spirituality, far our of our reach, and without any realistic models to inspire us to embody their very earthly, though also very spiritual, deeds, characteristics, and beliefs.

I don't mean any disrespect to our admittedly holy and spiritually elevated ancestors, but rather that we should do our best to understand pshat and figure out what we can learn from to apply in a practical fashion to our modern-day lives.

Case in point, Yosef, son of Yaakov and Rachel. He has come to be known in rabbinic writings as Yosef HaTzadik - the righteous - because of an incident in this week's parsha, Vayeishev.

Yosef, a mere teenager of 17 (maybe slightly older, 18, 19) is alone in the morally depraved Egyptian society, a servant to the head of Pharaoh's guards, Potiphar. He enjoys Potiphar's favor, who trusts him implicitly because of his good conduct, and is a model man-servant in his service of his master.

Then his master's wife sets her eye on him.

She begs him to sleep with her. And he refuses - though not without effort. The trop or cantillation on the word "and he refused" - "Vay'ma'ein" is a shalsheles, which undulates up and down 3 times, indicates, per numerous commentators, a great measure of self-doubt and struggle on Yosef's part.

Yet, despite the situation - in which no one would observe them sinning - or the biological fact that he probably had the typical late-teenager's boatload of hormones coursing through his veins, as well as the general immoral atmosphere which pervaded the Egyptian society at large, Yosef turns her down. Not once, not twice, but over and over, and to the point where he flees, as though for his very life, leaving his outer garment in her hand and running outside improperly dressed.

Most of us are aware of the famous reason for his refusal, as cited in Chagiga 36B, that Yaakov's image appeared in the window of Potiphar's house and disapprovingly spoke with Yosef about the consequences of his actions - not unlike Obi-Wan Kenobi in The Empire Strikes Back.

Don't do it, Yosef!
However, this is an Aggadic Gemara, and not indicated in the pshat. As we just learned in Daf Yomi on Shabbos 63A, "the verse never departs from the pshat," even if there is a metaphorical or deeper level of understanding in the Torah's words.

So how does that benefit us in this situation?

Because Yosef was a 17 year old teenager who resisted the often overpowering urge to indulge in physical gratification and defeated the attractive temptation that was repeatedly shoved in his face.

How many of us, as teenagers, let alone now as older, more mature adults, could say that when faced with this sort of "perfect" opportunity to sin, would not give in? Potiphar would never find out, Yosef's family would never find out, it'd be so easy to "get away with it."

And yet, Yosef didn't go down that path. Not only did he refuse to cave, he endured a public scandal that his would-be adulteress lover falsely instigated, initiating a smear campaign that landed him in a dungeon.

How many men of note, famous and well respected, have we heard of in recent years that have failed this test of temptation time and again? If it's not our president, it's the head of the CIA, governors, senators, celebrities, musicians, sports stars, and even some respected religious leaders.

None of these men (and women as well) can stand shoulder-to-shoulder with a 17-year-old Hebrew slave, kidnapped and alone in a foreign country.

Think about that.

Nowadays, the perpetrators of the these immoral sexual dalliances have first and foremost on their mind, "How can I not get caught?" "What's the best way to accomplish my personal physical gratification without causing fallout among my family, friends and supporters?" "What's the best excuse or cover story?" And none of them think about getting caught, or what that will mean, the relationships it will rip apart and the hard-earned trust it will destroy.

Yosef didn't need to worry about that, because it wasn't on his mind. He didn't contemplate how to best achieve his sin - he fought the thoughts that arose in his mind while his seductive master's wife offered her charms again and again. He fought, and won - and when he knew he couldn't fight in the same way he had before - she DID grab his garment, but who knows what else she was doing to him physically at the time - he fled as though his life was in danger.

Though perhaps not in mortal danger, he was in spiritual peril, an immortal danger, if you will, and he had to escape however he could. Though not intact in attire, he was intact spiritually. He won the war, even if was ended up damaging his public image. No matter what the people thought of him, even if Potiphar believed internally that Yosef was innocent (and hence didn't have him executed), it was better for Yosef to have his name tarnished by lies than to tarnish his soul by lying with his master's wife.

If only we could internalize Yosef's strength, pay attention more closely to that internal shalsheles of trepidation at the moment we are tempted to do an aveirah - and like Yosef, listen to it, rather than give in to the suggestions of the Yetzer Hara. Without a doubt, the world would be a better, more moral place.

I think this is a very human, relatable story that helps us connect to Yosef and our forefathers in a realistic fashion. It is possible to resist temptation, no matter what the situation is, especially in matters pertaining to sexuality - one of the most problematic arenas nowadays - and come out stronger, more resilient, and spiritually elevated by our proper choices.

Perhaps we can then also merit the title of tzadik, and better serve HaShem in a renewed, more focused, and dedicated fashion.

New Maccabeats Chanukah Video / Original Song - "Shine"

The Maccabeats have taken things to the next level as they release their newest song/video "Shine," their very first original song. Known for the past two years as one of the best, some may argue the best, Jewish A Capella and Parody groups out there, I welcome this change and think they've done a great job. Same Maccabeats quality, professionalism and where appropriate, humor, all wrapped up in a new, catchy song that we've never heard performed before. I like the use of continuity with "Miracle" and the reappearance of the Greeks from "Candlelight."

"Shine" can be purchased online at CDBaby

I hope this is just the beginning of their original releases, and they have much continued blessing and success in reaching out to the world and providing inspiration for us all.

For those who are wondering what the deal is with the "break off" group StandFour, these four former Maccabeats now have lives that are too busy to allow them to travel across the country, or to Australia, as readily as their fellow singers. However, even though they won't be touring, they still want to produce quality, engaging Jewish music and videos, hence StandFour.

I say the more Jewish Music out there, the merrier, and   look forward to what both The Maccabeats and Standfour will create in the future.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

So, Who's Getting Married on 12/12/12?

Assuming the Mayans were wrong and the world isn't coming to an end next Wednesday, is anyone planning on getting married? This'll be the last time for 100 years that the invitation and bentschers will have triple double-digits.

I know of a few couples who got married on 10/10/10, though I didn't hear of any 11/11/11 weddings (now THAT's a cool wedding date) because it unfortunately fell on a Friday. Any of these triple numerical wedding dates definitely makes remembering anniversaries easier - at least for the couple. 

One of my friends, who got married on 10/10/10, told me that a family friend called his parents to get their phone number so she could call the couple and wish them a happy first anniversary the year after they got married. His parents told her she already missed it by a month - and she looked at the calendar to discover to her embarrassment that that day was actually 11/11/11.

Next Wednesday is also the 4th day of Chanukah, and 4 x 3 = 12!  I had to find a Jewish connection somehow. 

So, is anyone you know, perhaps you yourself, jumping on the 12/12/12 let's get hitched bandwagon?

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Chanukah Music Videos 5773 / 2012

A full 2 years after the stunning, unexpected success of The Maccabeats' Candlelight, we are now back in the month of Kislev and Chanukah music videos are beginning to appear on Youtube.

Here's a listing of this year's releases - new videos are posted at the bottom as they appear.

To check out last year's videos, click here.

San Diego NCSY presents "Am Yisrael Chai" - a parody of Train's song "Drive By." It's very catchy (as is the original) and stands out for not being another "Gangnam Style" or "Some Nights" parody. The flip-book animations are also rather neat.

Six13 has a new song "Hanerot Halalu," which features appearances by many viewers who submitted their own clips of them singing.

The Shira Chadasha boys' choir has a preview video of their new song/album: "Chanukah"

Matisyahu has a new song called "Happy Hanukkah."

StandFour - a new A Capella group composed of 4 former Maccabeats is fun and pop-y mash-up.

The B-Boyz are at it again, this time parodying a classic song by the Jewish rap group Beastie Boys in their somewhat awkward and presumptuously named: "Top Hanukkah Song 2012 : (You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To DREIDEL)." Word to your Torah!

"The Chanukah Miracle" by ShoobyDoobShloimy

Here are some children singing "Sivivon" with underwear on their heads in "It's an underwear Chanukah!"

Here's "Gangnam Chanukkah" by  Mar Ḥeshván

...and here's some "Hannukah Lights" that play along to the real "Gangnam Style"

Technion Israel made a Rube Goldberg Machine Chanukiah!

The Yeshiva Boys' Choir - "Daddy Come Home." A bit of a tear-jerker.

Here's "Chanukah Time" by Josh & The Jamtones.

"Chanukah Medley" - a "medley of American Satirical song which feature the festival of lights," performed by the London Jewish Male Choir.

Here's a cute musical Chanukah greeting from Rabbi David Sirull

"WE'RE LIGHTING THE MENORAH" by students from Yeshivat Reishit Yerushalayim. These guys have moves that put the Lions of Zion from the Aish videos to shame. This seems to be an original song.

Pella is back, and now apparently coed - women are featured singing and dancing(ish) in this video.
they've made their own A Capella mash-up called "8 Nights of Hanukkah." They use the same song as StandFour as the primary basis of the song.

The What's Up Band aka The Shlomones have released "Pass It On."


The Maccabeats have now joined the Chanukah music party with their fantastic original song, "Shine."

Aish.com has eschewed their typical holiday music video parody in favor of a sketch video about a pregnant lady and her roller-blading, acrobatic husband - all accompanied by instrumental electric guitar. It's called "Racing Home - A Hanukkah Surprise."

12/8/12 - these two videos feature women singing and dancing.

The Ein Porat Fountainheads have finally posted their video/Apple parody sketch, which is quite the departure from their usual music videos. It's called "iHannukah - Apple Style."

Yet another "Some Nights" to "Eight Nights" parody, this time by the coed  Israeli group, Shirat Machar, called "Eight Nights the Miracle of Light."


Here's "Hanukkah - World on Fire" by Shir Soul.

Now this is really cool and quite lyrically creative: "Hanukkah Hip Hop" by Ari Lesser.

A.K.A. Pella is joining the parody bandwagon with perhaps the best Gangnam Style Chanukah parody of them all, called "Chanukah Style."

Shmaya Silverman, with producer Ari Goldwag has released "Chanukah."

Yeshiva Day School of Las Vegas made their own music video to Shlock Rock's classic "My Menorah," starring their students.


Chanukah music on BAGPIPES!!! Very cool.

"The Simple Chanukah Story" starring wine corks! The music is kinda catchy and reminds me of a Wii start up menu theme.

The Hebrew School of Bal Harbor produced a pretty nifty Chanukah Style - Gangnam Style parody starring its students.

Not to be left out, Glee included "Hanukkah Oh, Hanukkah" in their recently released 3rd Christmas album. This features a male vocalist, for anyone wondering.

If you know of any more videos/songs - post them in the comments and I'll add them!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Who Is Truly Wealthy?

     In this week’s parsha, Yaakov finally has his face-to-face confrontation with his elder brother Esav, bringing to the fore two conflicting lifestyles and weltanschauungs. Yaakov has lived with their trickster Uncle Lavan for over 20 years, earning his living as a shepherd and raising his family, whereas Esav has spent his time hunting and mastering his martial skills. Esav arrives with 400 armed men ready for battle, while Yaakov has his family and his flocks carefully arranged to ensure the best escape plan if Esav attacks.

     Yaakov, unaware of his brother’s true intentions, and recalling the broiling anger Esav expressed shortly before he fled to Lavan’s house, attempts to placate Esav with multiple tributes consisting of choice animals selected from the flock he raised while working for Lavan. Esav, though possibly impressed by the gifts, informs Yaakov that they aren’t necessary,

     “'I have much; my brother, let that which you have remain yours,’” (Bereishis 33:9). In short, Esav is plenty wealthy enough as it is. He has a lot of stuff, and has no need to accept Yaakov’s tribute.

     Yaakov, however, insists that Esav take the animals, and even pleads with him to do so, saying, “‘…Please take the gift I brought to you; because G-d has been gracious with me, and because I have everything,’” (33:11). Only after Yaakov strongly urges Esav to accept the gifts does Esav acquiesce and take possession of the animals.

     Many commentators, including Rashi, point out the nuance of language in the two brothers’ claims regarding their personal possessions. Each exemplifies a different perspective with regard to material possessions and happiness in life.

     Esav represents the ever typical avaricious person constantly looking to obtain more possessions. As such, he remarks that he “has much.” He owns many things, including many animals. Sure he could always use more, but he doesn’t need his brother’s gift at the present time. The Midrash (I can't find the source, help anyone?) comments that Esav actually did desire Yaakov’s animals, but he gave the pretense of refusal in order to present an air of humility which he did not actually possess. Thus, after Yaakov firmly and genuinely insists that Esav accept the animals, Esav “gives in,” in appearances alone, and takes the tribute he had coveted the entire time.

     Yaakov, by stark contrast, states that “I have everything” and attributes Hashem as the source of his wealth by proclaiming “because G-d has been gracious with me.”

     Yaakov is a model example of Ben Zoma’s opinion as found in Pirkei Avos 4:1, where Ben Zoma describes several ideals of human behavior and perspective, among which is the famous dictum, “Who is rich? One who is happy with his portion.” Yaakov understands that whatever he has been given is from G-d, and whatever material possessions he now owns are the totality of the things he needs. With that attitude, he really does have everything.

    Related to that Mishna in Pirkei Avos, there is a Gemara in the tractate of Shabbos on daf 25B where several sages give their own views on who is considered to be wealthy,

     “Our Sages taught: Who is wealthy? He whose soul is pleased by his wealth: this is Rabbi Meir's view… R. Tarfon said: He who possesses a hundred vineyards, a hundred fields and a hundred slaves working in them. Rabbi Akiba said: He who has a wife whose actions are pleasant. Rabbi Yossi said: He who has a bathroom near his table.”

     Rashi comments that Rabbi Meir’s view, that a wealthy person is one “whose soul is pleased by his wealth,” is the very same approach as Ben Zoma in Pirkei Avos, “one who is happy with what he has,” regardless if he owns much or little.

     However, wow do we explain the other three opinions, which make reference to far more specific things that may be unattainable for most, such has owning 100 vineyards, 100 fields and 100 slaves, or things that seem somewhat trivial such as having a bathroom near one’s table?

     Rabbi Adin Steinzaltz, in his commentary on this Gemara, notes that these scholars are speaking about their own personal experiences. Rabbi Tarfon was actually rather wealthy, and spoke about owning many vineyards, fields and slaves. Rabbi Akiva on the other hand, had very meager possessions, but his wife Rachel was a very righteous woman who encouraged him in his studies so that he could become the great Torah sage we now know. Thus, his happiness was manifested in his wonderful, supportive wife. Rabbi Yossi suffered from a terrible intestinal disease, and thus in his eyes wealth came in the form of owning one’s own bathroom that was nearby and easy to access.

     As we see, each of these sages embodied the words said by Ben Zoma and Rabbi Meir. Each was happy with what he had, whether that was a lot (Rabbi Tarfon), a little (Rabbi Akiva) or even what one possessed amidst physical suffering (Rabbi Yossi). They defined wealth from their individual experiences; being wealthy was whatever each of them owned and benefitted from. To them, what they had was truly everything they needed, just as Yaakov expressed to Esav.

     Indeed, we can all learn a great lesson from these sages and our forefather Yaakov. There is no standard for what it means to be wealthy. There is no reason to play the game of keeping up with the Cohen’s, being envious of a neighbor’s car, house, or other material possessions. Whatever we have is meant to be ours, and Hashem wants us to be happy with the things that we possess. He wants us to be happy because what we have is what He has chosen to give us. As the verse states in Koheles in two different places (3:13 and 5:18, quoted here) “Every man also to whom G-d has given riches and wealth, and has given him the ability to eat from it, and to take his portion, and to be happy in his work - this is the gift of G-d.” Being happy with what we have, and recognizing that we have the possessions we own because Hashem wants us to have them and enjoy them to their fullest is one of the greatest gifts G-d can give us.

     Think about one major thing in your life that is important to you. Perhaps it's a car that works properly and infrequently breaks down. A house/apartment with a price or rent you can afford so that you have a place to live. An inhaler for those with asthma, which allows them to have relief from their symptoms. Even something such as a decongestant pill that allows you to breathe better through your nose (like me). Maybe your spouse, and all the wonderful things he/she does for you and means to you. Reflect on that one thing, appreciate how it makes you a wealthier person. Then, expand that sense of appreciation to the many other things in life we've been given.

     Let us recognize and appreciate that Hashem bestows material possessions upon us, that we are blessed with the ability to use and enjoy them, and to be truly happy – and wealthy – with all the gifts that G-d gives us. 

Monday, November 26, 2012

Solution To The Shidduch Crisis: Date (And Marry) Younger Guys?

I've noticed an unusual, recurring phenomenon in the past two months or so. Three different young women I know, two who happened to be related, became engaged to guys who are 2-2.5 years younger than they are.

Imagine that!

But Shades of Grey, you'll tell me, it's been done before! You've also heard of a girl you know who married a guy younger than her.

However, how many of you have heard of this happening more often than once in a blue moon?

As I recall from my own dating experience, most girls have little to no desire to go out with guys younger than they are. They're too immature, too inexperienced, totally not ready to settle down and get married. But is it really fair to rule out the possibility of a decent guy, who for all intents and purposes is either already a) working, b) in grad school, or c) exactly where you are in undergrad or d) learning/in semicha, but just so happens to have walked this earth for a few years less than you have? I don't think so.

From a guy's perspective, there is some period of time where guys tend to like, fall for, or have crushes on slightly older girls. I'm not talking 20 year old boy for a 30 year old girl, which could be possibly somehow, but say a 22 year old guy being interested in a 24 or 25 year old girl. If the guy is willing to go out with her, should she turn him down because of his youth and inexperience? I think this would merit further consideration and not end up a missed chance.

There's also the fact to consider that woman typically live longer than men. I have argued against the idea of guys who are much older than the girls they go out with, because their wives would be widows for far longer than their peers who married similarly aged men. In this case, it might even out nicely and the couple would live out the duration of their lives together. I think that's a nice idea, but I don't know how much other people think about that kind of thing.

Although not entirely comparable, an article from the New York Times published this past May discusses what seems to be a trend in the secular world: older girls are choosing to date younger guys in high school as well as college. Interesting eh?

Maybe this could, or even should, be a new trend in our world as well; one that has the potential to truly make an impact on the shidduch dating scene.

That, or we could end up with this as a possible future.

So, single girls and single guys, what do you think? Have you, or would you consider going out on a shidduch date where the guy was 2 years (or more) younger than the girl?

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Maccabeats Gangnam Style!?

Sort of... and it's still hilarious.

I can't wait to see their REAL new video - their first original song.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Curse Of The Shidduch Stalker

The clock neared eleven, and Mordy and Elaine were among the handful of customers remaining at the small coffee shop. An employee went about the empty tables flipping chairs up while another churned his mop in a bucket of murky water in the first’s wake.

“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” Elaine said.

Incredulous, Mordy asked, “What do you mean you’ve never heard of the Shidduch Stalker?”

“Is this one of those dating blog things? I don’t read those,” she rolled her eyes. “They’re full of such shtus. And you should see the comments,” her chin jutted forward as she extended her neck and her mouth gaped slightly. “Talk about loshon hara!” She reeled her head in and shook it back and forth in disapproval.

Mordy dismissed her remarks with a waggle of his hand. “No, this is real. My friend’s chevrusa, who knew the guy it happened to, told him all about it.”

Elaine raised a skeptical eyebrow. “Uhuh, sure. So it’s one of those stories.”

Mordy rested his forearm on the table and leaned forward. “What’s that supposed to mean? ‘One of those stories’?” he injected an extra measure of sarcasm into his voice to surpass Elaine’s.

“You know, one of the made up stories guys tell girls on dates to impress them.”

“Whoa, whoa,” Mordy recoiled, presented both palms outward. “Are you accusing me,” he flicked both thumbs back toward himself, “Of trying to impress you?” Elaine giggled. “Chas V’Shalom! I’d never be so gaiva-dig.”

“Mmhmm,” she murmured and rolled her eyes again.

“Anyway, so the story goes that about 50 years ago, there was a boy from the city who heard about this amazing girl, really a ten out of ten, gorgeous, with wealthy parents who were willing to support them forever, with yichus all the way back to Moshe Rabbeinu-”

Elained pointed a finger at him, “Now I know you’re lying. No one’s ever been able to trace their yichus back to Moshe Rabbeinu,” she retorted disparagingly.

“B’li neder, this is the absolute emes,” he pressed both hands to his chest. “No sheker here!”

Elaine sighed playfully. “I’ll be the judge of that.” She spun her hand in a little vertical circle, “Nu, go on.”

“So yeah, this boy heard about this amazing, fantastic, beautiful girl. The absolute best of the best. And seeing how he was the top bochur at his yeshiva, he knew he’d have the best shot at marrying her. He knew anyways it was meant to be because he had just gotten a bracha from the Rosh Yeshiva for hatzlacha in shidduchim that very day.”

“This sounds too good to be true,” Elaine crossed her arms.

Mordy fixed a disapproving look at his date. “Weren’t you the one who just told me to ‘go on’?” She made a quick zipper motion across her lips with her index finger and thumb held together. “Thank you,” he nodded in mock appreciation.

“So, he went through all the right channels, their parents met and arranged everything, and it looked like everything was set all the way to the chuppah, even before their first date.” He flung his index finger up, hunched over and looked back and forth. “Then it happened…”

Elaine craned her head to the side, “Then what happened?”

Mordy straightened up in his seat and thumped the tabletop lightly with his hand. “If you’d let me finish and quit interrupting, maybe I could tell you,” he flashed a wry grin.

“Sorry!” she retracted her neck inward like a turtle, lifted her shoulders land offered an appeasing smile. 
“Please continue.”

He took a moment to clear his throat and sip gingerly from the straw in his drink. “The shadchan had it all worked out. Everyone knew this was it, and they all eagerly awaited the happy couple’s return from their first, and most likely, only date with news of their engagement. Alas, it was not meant to be…”

Elaine gasped.

“On the way home from their date, they were walking down the sidewalk, so engrossed in their conversation, their stares glued to each other’s face, that they didn’t notice the late night construction crew closing up shop .”

Elaine trembled, chewing at the tips of her perfectly manicured fingernails.

“As they happily strolled along, oblivious to their surroundings, the boy smacked right into a construction worker! He quickly turned to check on his date, and she was gone!”

“Gone?” Elaine squeaked with fright.

“Gone,” Mordy snapped his fingers. “Like that.” Elaine’s breathing became rapid. “While her beloved almost-chosson had smashed into the burly worker, she stepped right into an open manhole!”

“That’s horrible!” Elaine squealed, tears welling in her eyes. “Did they rescue her?”

“Of course that was the first thing on his mind. The boy frantically told the construction guys what happened and they sent two men down there wearing those helmets with flashlights on the front to search for her. After an hour, they came back and said they saw no sign of anyone in the sewers. They thought she might have hit her head and gotten washed away, so they called up their buddies at the processing plant to check.”

“I can’t imagine how she must have felt, all that icky stuff in her hair…” Elaine absentmindedly stroked at a lock next to her ear.

“Ahem,” Mordy furrowed his forehead at her.

“Oh, sorry!” She blinked a few times “So what happened in the end?” Dread crept back into her voice.

“They never found her,” he paused to let that sink in. “It was like she had vanished into thin air, like she had never existed in the first place.”

Elaine dabbed at the corner of her eye with a tissue she extracted from her purse. “That poor boy!” She sniffed “Whatever happened to him?”

“He was totally heartbroken. Utterly miserable. Completely torn up inside,” Mordy tilted his head to the side. “You gotta understand, this was his bashert we’re talking about. His one chance at true love had gone down the drain…” Mordy stopped midsentence, narrowed his eyes in confusion, then refocused his gaze, “...literally,” he smiled at his unintended clever turn of phrase.

Elaine snuffled into her tissue. “What’d he do with his life?”

“Some say he gave up on getting married and dedicated his life to becoming a Kabbalist somewhere in Israel,” Mordy glanced upward for a moment. “Others say he was driven mad because of his grief,” he looked into Elaine’s eyes which were widened with fear. “And now he roams the streets late at night, plodding along in a crazed stupor, still looking for his lost love. He stalks young couples who are out on shidduch dates… and they say if someone happens to bump into him they’ll never been seen again!”

Suddenly, every light in the room shut off, engulfing them in blackness. Elaine screamed at the top of her lungs.

“Sorry!” A voice called out in the darkness. The lights clicked back on, and a lone employee stood by the switch on the wall by the exit. “I thought all the customers had gone home already.”

“It’s okay, we were just about to leave,” Mordy glanced over at Elaine, who was hyperventilating and clawing at the collar of her shirt as though it were trying to strangle her. “Shall we?” He offered. Elaine nodded jerkily and began to rise.

A cool autumn breeze blew past as the door closed behind them. Elaine shivered and pulled her jacket tighter around her torso to ward off the chill.

The remaining employee’s keys jingled in the door lock. “Goodnight, stay safe!” He waved to them and disappeared around the corner. Mordy and Elaine walked onward together in silence for a few minutes.

“So,” Elaine began furtively. “That whole Curse of the Shidduch Stalker isn’t really real, right?”

“What do you mean?” He asked in neutral tone.

“It’s just a story. It never happened,” her voice trembled.

“You can think that if you want to, but I’m pretty sure it’s true. I trust my friend’s chevrusa, he’s a pretty honest guy,” he replied, completely indifferent to Elaine’s mounting distress.

“Uhuh…” she nodded, rattled by her date’s total lack of reassurance.

A sudden crash from a nearby alley made Elaine jump. They came to a stop by a group of fading, white construction barriers. The blinking orange lights had burnt out on two of them.

Mordy glanced at the alley and smirked. “Oh, that’s probably some homeless cat knocking over a trashcan. It just wants some dinner,” he declared.

“I want to get back to my apartment as soon as possible. Where everything is safe,” she pursed her lips and hugged herself.

From the darkness of the alleyway a gravelly voice shouted, “Where is she?!”

“What was that?” Mordy whipped his head around to locate the source of the indignant question.

“Where is she?!” the mysterious voice repeated.

“Mordy, you’re going to get us killed! That’s probably the Shidduch Stalker!” Elaine’s face was a mixture of anger and terror. “Why’d you have to tell me that stupid story!?” She demanded, almost hysterical.

A hunched over form appeared out of the gloom. It shuffled along, holding its hands outward, crooked fingers splayed as though grasping for something.

Elaine’s breath caught in her throat, stifling the scream that had been building up.

The figure angled its head to focus on them. “Do you know where she is? Where did she go?”

“Look mister, this isn’t funny. We don’t have any change to spare. Leave us alone,” Mordy responded, doing his best to sound brave.

The figure hobbled into a circle of light cast by a lamppost, revealing an old man. His remaining grey hair was frazzled, poking out in all directions. An unkempt beard coated his slackened jaw. The scraggly facial hair Contained bits of food and a streak of foamy saliva dripped down at the corner of his mouth. His eyes appeared dazed, and his left eye was yellowish, cloudy and unfocused. An old, well-worn suit practically hung off his gaunt frame, and a tattered, dusty yarmulke was perched on his wrinkled, partially bald head.

You know where she is!” The old man pointed a kinked index finger with a lengthy, uncut fingernail at 
Mordy. “Tell me. Where did she go?”

Mordy began to tremble and fought himself to prevent Elaine from noticing his panic. “I-I don’t know what you’re talking about, mister. Have a good night, we’re going,” a twinge of stutter broke its way into his words.

“No, no,” the elderly man shook his head. “ You know. Tell me,“ he took several steps toward them, stopping only a foot away. “Where. Is. She?” He enunciated each word with what seemed like malice.

Elaine started backing away from Mordy, who stood his ground shakily. She bumped into the group of temporary barriers set up around an open manhole.

“I-I told you. I have n-no idea who you’re talking about. P-please!” Mordy held his hands up in appeal.

“You know! Tell me!” The old man snarled and lunged at Mordy. Elaine shrieked and took off running, knocking over one of the white construction barriers to the pavement with a clatter.

Before Mordy knew it, his shirt was ripped, his glasses flung from his face, his cheek was bleeding, and he found himself thrown onto the street, sitting down while leaning back and supported by his elbows. The old man crouched over him, struggling to get to his feet in preparation to strike again. The orange blinking light from a maintenance barrier flashed eerily in the elderly man’s eyes like flames.

Mordy quickly backpedalled on his palms while kicking his feet in front of him, trying to put some distance between himself and his attacker. His hand slipped in a puddle and he fell backward, knocking his head hard against a fire hydrant.

Blackness swallowed his vision and he knew no more.


Mordy awoke in a hospital bed several hours later. A crew of city workers returned from their routine coffee break and discovered him unconscious in a puddle, blood smeared down his face and onto his shirt. The foreman called emergency services, and they were able to stop the bleeding and get him to the hospital where a doctor bandaged his cheek and stitched up the gash on the back of his scalp. Despite a clear scan, his doctor decided to keep him overnight for observation, just in case any unexpected effects from his head injury became problematic.

Judah, Mordy’s friend from yeshiva dropped by to visit him after morning seder.

“So you told her the Shidduch Stalker story, huh?” Judah tossed the months-old Sports Illustrated magazine onto the bedside nightstand.

“I didn’t see any harm in it,” Mordy fluffed the covers on his bed. “I was hoping it’d impress her, you know,” he added, utterly despondent.

Judah stretched out his legs and crossed his feet at the ankles. “And she hasn’t called or texted back since last night?”

Mordy checked his phone for the umpteenth time. “Nope. I’ve left her three voicemails and about a dozen text messages. The Shadchan just texted me and said that she wasn’t interested in a second date and I should move on.”

Judah nodded sympathetically and drew in a relaxing breath.

“No one is going to go out with me after this story gets out,” Mordy pouted. “Even if they don’t believe the whole Shidduch Stalker thing, they’re gonna say I’m not safe to be around or something.”

Judah raised his eyebrows and scrunched his mouth to one side in thought. After a moment he looked over at Mordy out of the corner of his eyes, “Unless someone proved the Shidduch Stalker was real.”

Mordy practically leapt from his bed, “What in the world are you talking about? Why would I want to meet up with that murderous geezer again?!”

“Who said you would? I think it might even be fun.”

The heart monitor started beeping faster as Mordy grew more upset, “Are you nuts?!”

Judah held out a hand to placate his friend. “Look, you only got into trouble because I told you the story in the first place. I didn’t think it was true at the time. My chevrusa Shimmy is such a jokester anyways, so I was always suspicious about his cousin who mysteriously ‘disappeared’ after a date.”

Mordy threw his hands up in frustration, “Now you tell me.”

“Don’t worry about it,” he patted the railing on Mordy’s bed. “I’ve got a date tonight anyway. I’ll figure this out.”

“Just watch your back,” Mordy leaned back into his pillow and stared at the ceiling. “And don’t blame me if she turns you down for a second date.”


Judah stole a peek at his watch. It was a quarter to eleven and everything was on schedule. He watched another couple clean up their table and slip out the front door. His date was finishing a story about her neighbor’s cat getting stuck in a tree and how it was rescued by a fireman.

“You know, you only think those kinds of things happen in movies, and yet it really happened to your neighbor across the street,” he observed Avigayil as she finished up her coffee.

“It’s funny, right? Funny as in odd,” she clarified with a smile.

Judah had been planning how he was going to introduce the story of the Shidduch Stalker, but Avigayil started speaking again before he could open his mouth.

“So, you heard about what happened last night?” She lowered her voice and looked around the room as though conveying a secret, “With that guy and girl who got attacked during their date?”

Judah raised an eyebrow and smiled inwardly. “You mean the so-called ‘Shidduch Stalker?’” He mimed quotations in the air.

“Turns out the best friend of the girl in the story is a big-time shidduch blogger, and she told her all about it. The post said the guy was a total coward and she had to run for her life because he more scared than she was.”

Judah chewed his lower lip, biting back a defense of Mordy and chose to feign ignorance instead. “You don’t really think they got attacked by the man from that story, do you?”

“Hey,” she raised both hands in a shrug, “I only know what I read. It seemed pretty authentic to me.”

Tsshh,” Judah enunciated in disbelief.Not everything on the internet, let alone shidduchim blogs, is even remotely true.” Judah turned as someone gently tapped him on the shoulder.

“I hate to interrupt your date, but we’re closing up for the night,” an employee informed them with a polite smile.

“Thanks for the notice,” Judah replied. “Ready to go home?” Avigayil nodded and started gathering her trash together for disposal.

They left the café alongside the remaining employee and started walking toward the nearby lot where Judah had parked the car. He had deliberately chosen a lot that was in the exact path Mordy and his date had traveled the night before when the so-called “Shidduch Stalker” appeared and confronted them.

Avigayil talked on about another blog she read regularly, while Judah listened and offered an occasional verbal acknowledgement to prove he was following her narrative. His main attention was focused on scanning the darkened alleys as they passed by for unusual signs of movement or anything else out of the ordinary. Up ahead, he noticed a section of the street that had its upper layer of asphalt torn up and was surrounded by beaten up white barriers with blinking orange lights. A steamroller and an asphalt distributor truck were parked off to the side, unoccupied for the time being.

“-then my cousin sent me this other blog I hadn’t heard of before, but this one was written by a guy, and…” she trailed off and looked over her shoulder. “Did you see that?”

Judah felt a tension mounting in his gut, “See what?”

“Something just scampered from behind the steamroller into the alley over there,” she indicated with a nod.

Judah took a few steps closer and peered down the dark, narrow passageway. “I don’t see anything.”

Avigayil yelped as something metallic clanged behind her. Judah spun on his heel toward his date. An unkempt, elderly man wearing a well-worn suit stepped out from behind the asphalt truck, holding a trashcan lid and a soup ladle. He banged the ladle on the metal cover and flashed a malevolent smile, showing off his missing or otherwise yellowed and crooked teeth.

“Where is she?” He asked through clenched teeth.

Judah moved in front of Avigayil, who gratefully stood behind him and peered over his shoulder. “Where is who? What do you want?”

The old man fixed his one clouded eye on Judah and gestured with the ladle, “You know where she is, so tell me.”

Judah couldn’t believe this was actually happening, and he started reaching for his cell phone to call the cops. “Let’s just take it easy now, no need to, uh, whack anyone with that thing.” As soon as the phone cleared his front pocket, the old man lashed out and smacked him on the wrist with the ladle. His phone spun off into the recessed area where the asphalt had been removed. Its screen glowed white from the dark crevice.

 “Do you have your phone one you?” Judah asked Avigayil, keeping his eyes facing forward in case the elderly assailant made another move to strike.

Avigayil patted the pockets on her skirt. “Darn, I left it back in my apartment,” she sounded disappointed. “If I could only have videoed this for one of those blogs!”

“I think we need to worry a little bit more about making sure the story the bloggers write isn’t about a dead couple than documenting this guy to confirm he’s real,” Judah said, an edge of annoyance creeping into his voice.

“Where iiiiiiis she?!” The old man practically sang, waving the ladle back and forth in the air. “Tell me!” He poked Judah in the chest with the serving implement then backed away tentatively.

Judah took a deep breath, trying to maintain some semblance of calm. “Avigayil, I think we’re going to need to bolt in a minute before this gets any more violent. I’ll count to three and you take off running toward the busy intersection to flag down a cop or something.”

“And just what are you going to do?”

“Distract him so you can get away,” Judah sounded confident.

“I appreciate your offer of thrilling heroics, but I’d rather not leave you to be spooned to death.”

Judah glanced over his shoulder at her, “That’s very sweet of you.”

“It is, isn’t it?” She smiled.

Their bonding moment was interrupted as the old man bellowed, “Tell me where she is!!!” and started charging toward Judah, ladle raised high above his head.

“Oh, Fer cryin’ out loud! That’s the second time this week!” A gruff, male voice shouted, the sound echoing off the buildings to either side. Judah and Avigayil whirled around and saw a heavyset man in a stained grey jumpsuit wearing a hard hat with an attached flashlight come running up the street with two similarly dressed men in tow.

“Jimmy,” the rotund man said to his younger coworker on the right, “Go call the home and tell them he’s out again and needs to be picked up.”

The old man froze like a wilderness creature staring into the headlights of an oncoming car.

“Hey, Gramps, gets away from those two kids. Your ride is on the way,” he jerked a thumb to indicate 
Judah and Avigayil should get behind him.

Judah’s eyebrows knotted in confusion. “What’s going on?” he asked.

“Just hold your horses a minute until they gets here, then I can tells ya all about it,” the worker waved his question away.

While they waited, the head worker introduced himself as Sal and his co-workers as Jimmy and Tom. Judah also had time to sneak over to the hole in the street and retrieve his phone. The old man was like a statue, appearing as though he wasn't even breathing.

A few minutes later, a dark van pulled up and two muscular men in white coats piled out along with a short middle-aged woman wearing glasses and her hair up in a tight bun.

“I’m dreadfully sorry about all this, especially since this is the second occurrence this week,” she gushed an apology as she trundled over to them. Behind her, the men tussled with the elderly fellow and managed to disarm him of his makeshift weapons.

Sal scratched the back of his neck, “Youz really need to beef up your security, miss-”

“That’s doctor, thank you,” she shot back curtly.

“Whatever. I can’t have this guy interrupting our work over here every other night. The city manager is gonna dock our pay if we don’t get this job finished.”

The doctor, who carried herself with an air of authority, scribbled a few things on the clipboard she had previously held tucked under her arm. “I realize your predicament, and we will do our utmost to resolve this situation.”

“Thanks,” he hooked his thumbs into his belt and stretched his shoulders.

Judah and Avigayil watched the exchange in silence. “So, uh, anyone care to explain why we were attacked by an old man with a ladle?”

“Oh, did he hurt you?” The doctor looked alarmed and held a hand to her chest.

“No, just knocked my phone out of my hand,” Judah showed her the still-functioning device.

“Thank goodness, I’d hate to have a lawsuit on our hands.”

“Sparky over there,” Sal motioned with a thumb, “keeps breaking out of the old folks’ home three blocks that way,” he pointed past them, “And goes roamin’ the streets at night, causin’ mischief.”

Avigayil regarded the doctor with concern. “Isn’t that dangerous? How does he escape, anyway?”

“He, uh,” she cleared her throat into a fist. “He has a knack for deceiving his caretaker, who gets replaced every so often since he is simply so difficult to deal with, into not taking his medication. He disposes of it in some convenient location such as a nearby potted plant.”

“And he goes a little wacko whenever he ain’t on his meds,” Sal interrupted, spinning his finger next to his temple and whistling. The doctor shooed him away with her clipboard.

“So who’s this woman he keeps talking about?” Judah asked.

“What woman?” The doctor seemed surprised.

“He kept asking us where “she” is,” Avigayil added.

“Oh my, what a misunderstanding!” She glanced over at the old man, who was presently being secured in a straightjacket by her two beefy assistants. “I think he was referring to Shia, his wealthy nephew who finances his stay with us. The man has no children and never married, as far as we are aware. His nephew placed him in our care well over a decade ago and rarely visits. I imagine he’s wondering aloud why his nephew left him at our home.”

Judah nodded. “I guess that makes sense.”

“Well, now that everything is taken care of, I bid you all a good night,” the doctor announced with finality. She signaled her assistants and they began moving the old man toward the open side door of the van.

“Hotcha!” he cried and slipped out of their grasp, bounding over to Judah and Avigayil. When he reached them, he suddenly stood ramrod straight, inclined his head toward Judah’s ear, and said in a low whisper, “I will find her, you know. Tee hee!” He cackled as one of the brawny men clamped down on his shoulder with a meaty fist. Judah stiffened, his eyes wide.

“Yeah, yeah, whatever grandpa, it’s time for a ride in the nice van over there,” the assistant grumbled. His partner joined him and grabbed the old man’s other arm with both hands. They hauled him bodily down the street toward their vehicle.

“All right youz guys, back to work!” Sal told his team and waddled over to the steamroller.

As the van started up with a sputter and drove away, Avigayil looked askance at Judah. He remained stock-still with a blank look on his face.

“You okay? What’d the creepy guy say?”

He snapped out of his reverie, blinked a few times and shook his head. “Oh, uh, just some incoherent babble. Let’s get you back to your apartment,” he began walking.

Avigayil sidled up beside him, practically bouncing from the adrenaline flowing through her bloodstream. “I can’t wait to write about this for my own blog! Just imagine, a firsthand account of the infamous Shidduch Stalker,” she said with pride.

Judah rolled his eyes and shuddered.