Tuesday, May 22, 2012

"Change, " A New Music Video From Judablue

Judablue has done it again! They have put together another fantastic, moving, inspiring song along with a very well done music video that tells a great story. They released it right at the end of Pesach, which didn't give much time for people to enjoy it before Sefirah began, so I'm making sure everyone can take time to listen and watch this incredible video.

This song can be downloaded for FREE if you "like" Judablue on Facebook.

All I want to know is - when's their next album coming out!?

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Yom Yerushalayim 5772

Yom Yerushalayim Sameach!

I spent most of last night after Shabbos and this morning putting together a slideshow/video presentation for our local JCC, featuring pictures taken by local residents during their trips to visit Yerushalayim and the Kotel.

While going through my old collection of pictures from my time in yeshiva, I couldn't help but feel an immense pride and gratitude swelling up within me - as well as a strong desire to go back as soon as I can (grad school permitting).

Our shul doesn't really commemorate the holiday, but I'm wearing a white shirt today and stepped out into the hall during tachanun to say Hallel to myself. Even if I couldn't enjoy the beautiful singing I have experienced at YU and in Israel, I had to do something to commemorate the occasion for myself in a meaningful, spiritual fashion.

ASoG and I also read Rabbi Norman Lamm's drashos found in the back of his newest book "Majesty and Mystery" - dedicated primarily to Megillas Esther, but also containing several speeches he gave related to other holidays of praise and thanksgiving to HaShem. The selection printed about Yom Yerushalayim were written in 1967 as the events actually transpired - and the reader can follow Rabbi Lamm's personal and congregational spiritual journey form one Shabbos to the next as the war begins and then ends. It's a fascinating read, and I highly recommend anyone to go out and buy the sefer to read these - and then use it next Purim, too!

Anyway, I wanted to share with you guys an incredible video I found on Youtube, filmed during the actual re-taking of Har Habayis in 1967. I'm awestruck watching it...

Please check out my posts from previous years, including an incredible story told by President Richard Joel and a sicha by Rav Meir Goldvicht.

Chag Sameach!

PS - for anyone who is friends with Shlomo Katz on Facebook, he has uploaded an incredible recording of him leading Hallel this morning at Rav Kook's house.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Here Today, Gone Tomorrow?

Within the last week, my parents' close friend and co-worker was diagnosed with an inoperable form of pancreatic cancer that may have already metastasized. He was feeling fine last month, with the exclusion of some back pain that he described as nothing worse than usual. Then he began having leg pains, which turned out to be blood clots - one symptom of pancreatic cancer. After the prerequisite tests, scans, and a biopsy, his diagnosis was confirmed.

The doctor, with a grim look on his face, turned to my parents' friend and told him that they will go ahead with chemotherapy, but he should get his affairs in order.

His son was due to be married in November, but odds are he won't survive until then, and thus plans are probably in the works to move the date up to ensure that he will be strong enough to attend (or be alive to attend at all).

This man is only a year older than my mother, and this is the first person among their circle of friends to who will succumb to an age-related illness (this excludes another friend who died of a sudden heart attack 10 years ago). Both my mother and father are quite dismayed with the depressing news. Measures need to be taken to train another employee to replace this fellow, but nothing concrete has been organized, but that's the least of their concerns at the present time.

Scary, isn't it?

Thank G-d, both my parents are relatively healthy. But this current crisis makes me wonder what it will be like (after 120 years G-d willing) when they are no longer around. It also sends my mind off worrying about what might happen to anyone I know - myself included.

Pirkei Avos 2:15 quotes Rabbi Eliezer as saying that everyone should do teshuva (repent) one day before they die. Avos d'Rebbe Nosson expands on this, and Rabbi Eliezer is asked how can one know what day he'll die, to which he replies that we should do teshuva every day, since it may, indeed be our last.

Morbid stuff, right?

But how much do any of us really think about this? Particularly us younger folk, with our misperceptions regarding our own mortality; nothing can stop us, whenever we get sick we'll get better, I'll stay young and never grow old and worn out, etc. etc.

Certainly it does not do any of us good to constantly have this on our minds, which would probably lead many to thoughts of depression. However, reflecting on these facts of how life works and how fragile, precious, beautiful, and how ill-appreciated each of our days are, can keep a person properly humble and thankful for every waking moment. We can use these thoughts to make what we do in life matter, to better help others - and ourselves - and leave a lasting, positive impact on the world around us.

As Tehillim 103:15-16 says, man is like a blade of grass - one moment we're here and flourishing, flowering - and the next a strong wind can come and pluck us up and away, as though we were never there.

It would behoove us all to take some time to think about these things, to better reorient ourselves in whatever way(s) necessary, to improve our conduct, both between us and HaShem and between us and our fellow man.

Please daven for the refuah shelayma of Shmuel ben Rochel. 

Thank you.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Still Continuing The Fight Against Evil...

After several months of nothing, the guys behind The Mighty Morphin' YU Rangers have uploaded another trailer for their upcoming video Kamen Rider RIETS.

This one is pretty cinematic in overall quality. I also think the plot is something a lot of us YU students can relate to. Well, kind of :)

I hope they don't take too long to finish the video!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

In Memory Of Chaim Feigenbaum

I was greatly saddened when I heard that Chaim Feigenbaum passed away last Shabbos morning. I never met him, but I do know of his reputation as a ben Torah from friends who were close to him, and more directly, I knew him through his unbelievably inspiring, energy building, soul-stirring music that he produced with his band Omek Hadavar.

Chaim battled leukemia for the last year and a half, as chronicled on this blog. In the last post, they have links to the hespedim offered in America and in Israel where he was buried.

While his passing is a great loss for many, I think his musical influence will be very much missed as well. His soulful vocals and compositions were unique and really struck to the core of spiritual connection to Judaism. Aryeh Kunstler, posted on Facebook that he had been working with Chaim on several songs/niggunim for a new, independent project, but Chaim never got a chance to record anything. I hope that Aryeh - and perhaps other musicians who knew Chaim, including the other members of Omek Hadavar - will someday (soon) bring these compositions to life as a tribute to Chaim.

As I mentioned, I never even met Chaim, and the only time I can recall seeing him was when he performed with Omek Hadavar at YU's Chanukah concert my first year back from Israel. I loved their first CD "The Depth of the Matter" and I was beyond elated when they released a follow-up album last year called "Mekor Chaim." I wrote a post about the song "Ein Yeiush" which draws many of its lyrics from Breslov writings. Please re-read that post, it's worth it.

Now that Lag B'Omer is here, I think it would be a great tribute to Chaim's memory if anyone who owns an Omek Hadavar album to pop it in their stereo or bring it up on their iPod. If there are readers out there who don't  yet have a copy of these beautiful CDs, you're really missing out on something special.

Yehi zichro baruch.

Update: 5/31/12 - I just found that Shlomo Katz' song "Tefilah L'chaim" has been reposted online at Jewish Music Insights - click here to listen.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Y-Studs Music Video!

Just in time before Lag B'Omer, the Y-Studs have released their first music video for their hit song "Ahavat Yisrael" otherwise known as "Baneshama."

It's a fun and somewhat silly video, and a great start to their musical career.

What do you guys think?