One People

Achdus is Hebrish for “unity”.

Asking People for Money When They’re Praying

I’m sure that this doesn’t happen in Conservative synagogues, or Reform or any other kind of synagogue than an Orthodox synagogue.  But giving charity is a big mitzvah (commandment) so it’s not unusual for a person who needs money to ask a person who keeps mitzvahs for charity.

If you’ve ever been to the kotel in Israel then you know what I’m talking about here.

The strange thing, of course, is that interrupting someone’s prayers, some of which could be that person’s supplication for money,  seems rude.

a) How can anyone interrupt a conversation with G-d?

b) Why can’t it wait a couple of minutes?

I understand that praying the morning prayers in a synagogue can cost $7.00 minimum a day!  Fine, if you have that kind of pocket change.

But that’s not the issue, of course.  Maybe during derech eretz month (see other posts), which is in ELUL, coming right up, people can watch this issue.

Humbly yours,


August 8, 2007 Posted by | charity, chesed, kotel, mitzvah | 3 Comments

Eating on the Bus

I don’t want to brag, but I consider my S-O a modern day version of a good man, maybe even a holy man, but for sure good. He really does extend himself to others (he’s in a profession that lends itself to that, medicine) and doesn’t generally say no to people in need.

In fact, he’s up before the sun, prays, learns, the whole nine yards AND works. No big deal, it’s what we’re here to do most people would say, and seriously, I’m not bragging as much as to introduce the story.

So that our one car would be available if anyone needed it yesterday (we woke up to storms) he took the bus to work, about a 15 mile bus ride. I dutifully packed him breakfast. He sat on the bus eating his sandwich. There is no time between patients for him to stop and eat lunch. He’s a 2 meal a day person, breakfast and late dinner.

He’s a very neat eater and relatively thin.

Someone came up to him and said, “You know it’s against the rules to eat on the bus. You can’t eat on the bus.”

I’m not sure how the conversation went from there, but he came home and it was the first thing he told me. Facetiously he said, “Of the greater evils out there, make sure you warn people about those of us who eat on the bus.”

So the questions for me are

Should he have given the spoiler the benefit of the doubt some how?

Was the spoiler really putting him down?

Should a person musar (rhymes with goose-er, means to correct) another person on such rules?

Should the doc have stopped eating?

I’m sure these are all related to derech eretz (common decency, manners, see other posts. To me, ifthere’s a chance you’ll insult someone saying what you’re about to say, probably it’s best to keep the mouth shut.

Remember: Elul is derech eretz month. EVERY Jew has to work on this, not just those who can pronounce derech eretz. Maybe especially those who can pronounce derech eretz.

Respectfully your,


August 8, 2007 Posted by | Derech Eretz Month, lashon harah | Leave a comment

Judging how people dress

I’ve mentioned before that my mother-in-law has this idea. All Jews, especially Orthodox Jews, should celebrate Derech Eretz Month.

Derech eretz (rhymes loosely with “where-deck”/ “air-Mets”) literally means “way of the land,” but figuratively it’s a fusion of “common decency” and “way of life” or occupation. It’s Hebrew, FYO.

When my m-i-l talks about it she’s usually talking about common decency, good old fashioned manners, not to be confused with Family Values, but probably it is a family value, so if you’re a Bush Republican you’re familiar with it..

M-i-L was at a Friday night dinner last week and a guest (Orthodox) brought up how some people come to the synagogue dressed inappropriately. Sometimes women wear short sleeves, sometimes they even wear a man’s kippah over their hair, and worse, of course, they sometimes wear tight and revealing.

I know. You want to know, Where is this shul? I want to go there!

You have to remember that the women in this shul are separated from the men during prayer and afterwards, during the kiddish, when people socialize, well-trained Orthodox men who don’t want to be turned on by such a sight so they don’t look.

There have been concerted efforts to separate the women from the men during kiddish, but they haven’t worked. I sure can’t figure out why.

Anyway, my m-i-l was upset that the people she was eating with could be so incredibly judgmental. They thought, obviously, that they were among friends and could say what they wanted and not upset anyone. But I’ll bet my m-i-l is STILL upset, many weeks later. And, by the way, she let them have it at the time.

“There’s nothing more important, no greater issue, no greater threat to the Jewish people,” she asked, “than how people dress when they come in earnest to PRAY? How can you know what’s in their hearts when they pray? Why does this bother you?!?!”

One of the guests apologized and thanked her for giving her something to think about.

Complaining about others, I imagine, shows a derech eretz deficiency, especially if you’re not sure how well it will go over. But maybe even if you are.

Remember the Hebrew month of Elul IS Derech Eretz Month. Tell everyone to watch their manners and tell everyone else to do the same. It really is one thing that all Jews should be able to agree upon.

Appreciatively yours,


August 8, 2007 Posted by | Derech Eretz Month, modest dress, pray | Leave a comment

N’ah Alitalia

I just hate it when people don’t bend over backwards to help older people.  I must be getting older.

We took a trip to the Holy Land a couple of weeks ago.  My m-i-l, the one who is always nagging about derech eretz (manners, see previous posts) did not like our dates on EL AL and took the Italian airline.

“I’ll try it,” she said.  She likes to try new things.

Our flight was unremarkable but we had a great time those first few days, settled into an apartment in Bakaa and rented a car, tooled around the country to our old stomping grounds.

M-i-l caught up with us in Petach Tikva where my s-i-l and her considerable (K”H) sized fam live.  “I had a simply TERRIBLE flight,” she exclaimed in her most British of British accents.

Why so bad?

“Oh, you would think I had to pay extra for water.  WATER.  I approached the galley. CLOSED.  I asked for a blanket.  We have no blankets.  Well, we’re short on blankets.  A pillow?  I might as well have asked for silver or gold.”

Sorry, mom.

“Oh.  And breakfast.  Because I ordered a kosher meal, they gave me salami.  SALAMI for breakfast.”


She got over it.

A few days later I remembered that a cousin of mine had just moved to Catamon, so I visited him, too, and he had an even better story about Alitalia.

“We were going to Rome and had ordered a kosher meal.  They said they didn’t have one.  We argued, but no meal.  After we landed we were arrested for harassing the flight crew.  If I hadn’t been EXTREMELY solicitous, I’d be in jail today.”

Would you say it’s anti-Semitism?  I have no idea, honestly.  But I can tell you something for sure.  No water, no Torah, no derech eretz, and for me, no, no, no Alitalia.

Unapologetically yours,


August 8, 2007 Posted by | Alitalia, derech eretz, EL AL | 1 Comment