Pirkei Avos 4:16

"Rabbi Judah would say: Be careful with your studies, for an error of learning is tantamount to a willful transgression."

Because Dan said so, here's my take (note that this is my own idea on this and may not really be reflected by commentators, and could easily be wrong):
If you're sitting and learning Torah, whether from some dumbed down artscroll book or hitting the Gemara, you have to apply yourself to your utmost. Why? Well if you're just a "regular guy" who knows you're Jewish but have no idea what halacha is, or even what the most basic transgressions are, and you eat meat and milk together or any number of other infractions you are an inadvertent sinner...
I think the Hebrew for this is shogaig.
Being an inadvertent sinner doesn't free you from all obligation to do teshuva, but it's not the same as being the guy who eats treif willingly...
All of the answers to how Hashem wishes us to act are in Torah and it is up to us to crack open a book and find out what's correct and what is right. But the exhortation to, "Be Careful" adds another layer to learning... because a failure when you've been given the answers takes one out of the "shogaig" category. To learn Torah incorrectly out of laziness is tantamount to purposefully transgressing, because an incorrect understanding of understanding of Torah will lead to incorrect behavior. So open the book and learn hard.

Pirkei Avos 4:15

"Rabbi Elazar ben (son of) Shamua said, the honor of your student should be as dear to you as your own; the honor of your colleague should be as the fear of your [Torah] teacher; and the fear of your teacher should be as the fear of Heaven."

hugs are better than drugs

inpired by this post...

it's good to start
with a shocking phrase
says the english book
so here goes:

I have never hugged so many men/boys
in my life
since I became religious.

Where there's a line in the sexual sand
and men and women don't touch at all
there is a clear message conveyed
by touch between two people of the same sex,
and a very different message
by touch between a more heterogeneous couple

There's less of a need for the manly posturing
that comes along with a world
where that 10% of people are no longer scared to say
lets sleep together, sure I'll cheat on my wife
I'm gay and proud, butch and beautiful...
and the cues between
what is meant and not meant
are a little more fuzzy

got me thinking
about the four types of greek love
Eros, Philia, Agape, Storge
each has its place and its time


ok, I deleted a bunch of comments and turned on "word verification" maybe I'll stop getting spammed...

I look at the J-log aggregator sites and I'm wondering why people are all about politics all the time. I love a good political discussion but what i want to know is what people are thinking about their own lives and their daily experience...
It's the problem with politics as a whole, people see each other as issues rather than having to confront the individual lives that each issue effects. With the amazing amounts of connectivity available these days people just erect the same shells around themselves that they've always erected; it just blows my mind. Instead of trying to put ones self out there for an in depth understanding of the issues of day to day life, people write rants about politics... How are people supposed to unite when no one wants to be known?



for most of my life
I have felt guilty
that I never honestly cried over my relatives' deaths
instead sqeezing out tears
by imagining nuclear war
pictures of the Holocaust

I often wonder how I'd feel
if this person
or that person
died suddenly, without warning
Would I cry, rant, rave
beat the walls in anger;
and rent my clothes?

or would history repeat itself
passivity my only reaction

i don't make friends well
sure, there are people I socialize with
talk to daily, and in the past, date
but it pains me to admit
that all too often I barely connect
skimming the tips of the relationship
ben adom l'chaveiro

I want to change that

Pirkei Avos 4:14

"Rabbi Yochanan the sandal maker said, every assembly which is for the sake of Heaven will eventually endure. And one which is not for the sake of Heaven will not endure."


the fathers 4:13

New series... One a day, like the Daf, but much much shorter

"Rabbi Eliezer ben (son of) Yaakov said, one who fulfills one mitzvah (commandment) acquires himself a single defending angel. One who commits one transgression acquires one accusing angel. Repentance and good deeds serve as a shield before retribution."

happy birthday ukraine

the heady intoxication of revolution
zeal for change, reinvigoration
fades more quickly than memory
by fall, the fragrant breezes of spring are forgotten
replaced by sweat of raking leaves
and the smell of sweaters packed away
do we/they/everyone remember
from whence we came
and where we wish to go
or are we ephemeral beings
guided by the wisps of cloudlike emotion

free money

nothing comes of nothing
a man in a suit festooned with characters
no matter how colorful
cannot make manna fall from the sky
or solve the problems of the world
as the thousands who buy his book
will soon realize

Each morning with swaying intonations
I pay to fall in love
to feel happy
and live out the days of my live in peace
I hope I am filling my “account”
faster than I make withdrawals
because, like my oddly dressed friend knows deep down,
there are no shortcuts to paradise
only a long and bumpy road.


melty man

I'm a sweaty guy
when the temperature soars
to anything above seventy-two
or I'm called upon to speak
in front of more than three people
I turn into a giant man-sized slug

in my mind I leave huge smelly wetspots
on everything, and everyone that I touch
without air conditioning I'd die
or drown everyone around me
I'm melting

Getting nothing done, so I take out the garbage

Most days I don't feel like eating
the air around me provides all the sustenance I need
whiffs of kebab, plants and brown coffee
added to the soup of oxygen and carbon dioxide
that I swim through, ingest
12 to 24 times a minute.
they say that smells are stray molecules
given off by everything around us.
drifting between the air currents
wafting around me
I'l take in strays
like the bastard offspring of a dog and a whale

I'm going home, time to clean house, and start over.

New Loves

My new loves for the week (numbers do not imply importance, only the vagaries of memory)

1. Regina Spektor
Finally a cure for my Fiona Apple withdrawal
I wonder if she's related to this Spektor

2. Making shabbos dinner
Now I get it... Anyone wanna climb 11 floors?

3. My closet
They finished the renovations on the pipe now I have space again

4. Pirkei Avos
Why i've been feeling like crap lately:
"Rabbi Meir (mai-eer) said, lessen your business activities and engage in Torah study. Be humble of spirit before every person. If you have wasted time from Torah study, you will be given many causes to neglect it. And if you have exerted yourself in Torah study, G-d has much reward to give you." - Thank you Moshe

5. Alexander McCall Smith's "The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency"
More reading, more thinking, makes Naftali a content boy.

I have grown this cynical

I am socially progressive fiscally conservative...
hate the democrats,
hate the republicans,
what shall I do?

Oy Vey

So the "high" is over
woke up really really late
(read, after the time for davening)
I'm tired and grumpy
the rain is grey
the traffic is heavy

Dan says to truly love G-d
You have to take the good
along with the bad
I'll admit that I fail at the latter
rejoicing and thanksful when I feel up
but unable to utter gam ze l'tova

Next week I'll try harder


I fry spinach and plantain
in my wok
eat my lox with chopsticks
and learn yiddish under mudcloth from mali
I feel adrift, comfortable
member of many tribes
but never really sure if I'm home


I envy birds
when they feel
the sky provides an escape
a drift across a continent
for warmth and reproduction
is simply a way of life
for a moment I want to join them
then I remember that
their eyes have no spark
their memories short
and lives meaningless
still, for a moment
I wish I could join them


at 12:12 today music returned
oh how I missed you
now if only
I'd brought my shaver
so I could miss my "pre-beard"
for it itches,
and makes me look like a troll.

I couldn't spell limerick

I work in adam's mor-gan
I eat healthy greens when I can
but they couldn't be further
from those that eat kosher
they might as well be in Japan

Seriously what was "Safeway" thinking? The one near Kemp Mill (heavily Jewish DC suburb) doesn't have kosher salad...


Just one more
I'll get back to
star and navel gazing
as soon as I'm done
missing this land that
I've never seen
and won't till Moshiach

when asked by a cabbie
what I thought
I replied "It's sad"
perhaps it will be good
Hamas, Martyer's Brigade
lay down their weapons
contribute to their people's economy...
but one should not rely on a miracle
and that sadly would be

so it's sad
to give up land for death
to turn plowshares back into guns
law into lawlessness
and children into martyers

l'shana haba'ah b'yerushalayim
Good Shabbos

I want to be there

Last night there was a massive rally at the Kotel. Estimates of attendance are as high as 250,000.
They say that the disharmony between Jews was the reason that the Temple was destroyed... Perhaps the only good thing that will come out of the disengagement is that Jews can unite over something... *sigh*


Sometimes my body confuses me
coffee mixed with a healthy dose of cream
quietly whispering "africa"
whilst my flat nose, broad lips and thick thighs
scream that side of my genetic lineage
with all of their might

I pass by people separated from the "dark continent"
for many generations
yet they carry the features more strongly
and I look not of the man
who rejected the women of Wales
or of the Caribbean Indians
who succumbed to the smallpox brought from colder shores
by men like my ancestor Mr. Chapman

damn, got hit by a spammer, killing the comments for a while till I stop getting them


as a liberal
and anti-war
I am offended

I understand that the issue at hand
are the tips of the bullets
sharpened with an extra bit of radioactive venom
and that as a sane individual
the war in which we've thrown
down our staff to eat the snakes of our enemies
is stupid and futile


as a liberal
I pride myself on our side's
free from the hyperbolic
gesticulating of the right
they have Fox News
we have NPR
they have Ann Coulter
we have Jon Stewart

but I suppose in our time,
we can't resist the sickly light
of inflated propaganda

DC United

tons of people
all reeking
of victory,
just reeking

a Japanese highschool trip
invades our american space
but among this babble they are
folded, melted, blended
into the vast non-culture
brownish faces lost in the chanting sea

PS we won
PPS my camera went all superman+kryptonite, *sigh*


I didn't know DC cops were using these.

I had a weird dream last night
I was going out on a date
a date I was happy about
with someone who I liked
We were having a great time
Don't remember what we were doing
just that it was great
But then I had to go do "something"
but just as I finished the task
another would pop up
and I rushed around
trying to finish
by the time I got back to my date
she didn't talk to me
I think she might have been stone
but I'm not sure

I know David J. will love this

the only question is why he didn't do it first:

Today my clothes are worn

The 1st of Av begins the nine days
I'm not the first to say
that though I feel disconnected from those events
I wish I didn't
or more exactly I wish that I wish that I didn't
I read accounts like this
and am scared and awed by the fanaticism or dedication
(depending upon how you look at it
It is a thin line that separates the righteous and the insane
Avraham Avinu nearly sacrificing his son is exalted
While those that passed their children through fire are cursed.
Without a way to know if righteous indignation is l'shaim shamayim
we must sit down with our own bar kamtzas and have a kumbaya session
because we may be ruining our chances
at rebuilding the Temple in our own lives

I refuse to believe
that the only reason
she pays attention to me
is that I used to control the food

does that make me weak?

Pool party

I now have a full kitchen I can use
or more accurately
fleishig and milchig plates I can use,
since I haven't bought any food

I carried my dishes to
Rav. F's back yard
solemnly unwrapped the IKEA&trade produce
dipped them into the water
after having completed the required recitations
and proceded to drop a cup into the mikvah
thereby causing me to almost curse
dissipating any atmosphere of
supreme holiness

It then turned into a
wierd religious water game

I remember one time
Ms. B asked me if I knew what
toiveling keilim was
strange that I'm actually doing it...

but now I have plates,
so the question is...
when am I helping the zakars?

The only living boy in New York

I went home today on the bus

woke up early
davened by myself
then got on the bus
like some inverted schoolday
where I travel to the places I've been
on paths that I've traveled.

I walked on the same path that
took me to school
the same path where I first smoked
first kissed
first fought

it's wierd going back to
places dwelled in as a child
toilets are smaller, lower
the adults shrink
and the big kids aren't so scary


I got my first gemara today!
Moed Katan
I'm not even so upset
about the moped.

I could smash and rant
in righteous indignation
but I too steal
I too hurt
we all have our moments of
wanton uncaring
so what's the use getting mad

Next step, Motorcycle!


Oh Vino, Oh Vino
our time it 'twas short
you were oh so peppy
but not fast as a Porsche

Oh Vino, Oh Vino
you just barely sipped gas
I only fell twice
but not once on my ____

Oh Vino, Oh Vino
with a name trom Italy
who would've guessed
you spoke just Japanese

Oh Vino, Oh Vino
painted silver, not golden
Oh knows where you'll end up
now that you've been stolen


take the A-train to harlem

I worked until 12:30 last night
and took the scenic route home
spooking the deer
who spooked me back

I fly noisily through the night
like some inept wolf
sending skittish animals and drunken revelers
fleeing to safer ground

My ineptness was confirmed
on the return home
Damn, forgot my keys

yuppies out now

Went shopping today
replaced all of the pots and pans
in one fell swoop
"disa wok velly good"
said the mass of wrinkles

I love international stores
as a child
my parents searched them out
repositories of foreignness
with goat pieces and whole chickens
staring out grotesquely
here all of us are the same
basking in the majority of the minority
and smelling of exotic spices