One People

Achdus is Hebrish for “unity”.

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

Derech Eretz and the Parking Garage

A kabala is a receipt.  My S-O, Mordechai (we’re married over 30 years) and I were in an Israeli parking garage at a hotel the other day.  We arrived before Shabbas and had quite a few packages and suitcases. 

We also had taken ourselves on a fantastic tour of Bet Guvrin, the huge bell shaped caves above ground, and the naturally air-conditioned caverns under-ground.  It was a hundred degrees in the shade.  But the caves were nice.

 More drama on that another time, also about derech eretz.  I’ve explained elsewhere the meaning of Derech Eretz, but basically, for our purposes, it means common decency.  Manners

Anyway,  it was hot.  A really, really hot day.  When we visit Israel the weather’s always weird.  It’s like G-d telling us, Don’t come to Israel for the weather.

Finally back at the hotel (it was a simcha), M. parked the car and I checked in.  He never got a receipt at the parking garage.  The attendant didn’t give him one, and he didn’t know he needed it to get out.

After Shabbat we wanted to go out to get something called hot chocolate cake.  It’s apparently amazing at that bakery behind the gas station in Bakaa (Jerusalem).  That is an amazing bakery, it’s true.

But the parking attendant wouldn’t let us out without the receipt from the day before.  Big argument, big drama.  In the end, the guy told me, in rapid fire Hebrew, that if we wanted to be thieves, so be it.

No one has ever called us thieves before.  We may not be perfect, but that’s not an adjective I’d use to describe us.

 I gave him a look to kill, one of those, Unbelievable Chutzpah looks, shaking my head, as if to say, You should be ashamed of yourself.   He literally stepped back.  I’m not so young. My look said, How could you call us that?  His face told me that he knew he’d over-stepped.

Remember, Elul is Derech Eretz month.  Pass it on, please.  Tell everyone that every Jew has to be nice.  All the time.  It’s a tough job, but somebody has to do it.

 Appreciatively yours,




August 1, 2007 Posted by | derech eretz, Derech Eretz Month, Elul, midot | Leave a comment

My Mother-in-law and Derech Eretz Month

The quick and dirty on this is that she is the idea person in the family. She’s also our moral compass.

The other day she said, We need people in the shul who will drive elderly people to their appointments if they need assistance.

I said, Well, make the suggestion.

She said, I did. The Rabbi said, Write it up. I don’t write things up.

Hmmm. Maybe. . .

Then she continued: Nobody has derech eretz these days.

Derech eretz is common decency, manners.

What are you getting at?

Well, there’s a new couple in my building.


And I’m waiting for them to come up to me to say hello.

Why wait? Go say hi!

No, that’s not right. I’m older. They should come over to me first.

That makes sense.

You know what we need?

What, Mom?

We need derech eretz MONTH!

I agree.

Elul. The month before Rosh HaShana. That should be derech eretz month. The whole shul should try to observe it, be especially nice to others. THINK before they open their mouths.

Great. But why stop there? Why not tell the WHOLE WORLD to observe Derech Eretz month?

Sure, why not.

So I’m telling you.



June 6, 2007 Posted by | chesed, derech eretz, Derech Eretz Month, Elul, Elul is Derech Eretz Month, helping older people, manners, moral compass, mother-in-law, rabbi | Leave a comment