October 11, 2015
בראשית was your Grandfather Yitz’s favorite parsha. He taught that בריאת העולם, the Creation of the World, was the greatest act of Love that God ever performed … and continues to perform. What a wonderful thing that you both got to read Grandpa Yitz’s favorite parsha, and that you did it so beautifully.
We also know that the Creation of the World wasn’t only an act of Love, it was also a tremendous act of Will … of רצון, and that the Creation of Humans, which happened shortly after, was no less an act of Love and Will.
However, as Ne’eman pointed out in his D’var Torah, it didn’t take long before the Humans that God created weren’t exactly acting in sync with God’s Will, as their behavior both inside and outside Gan Eden would demonstrate.
Eating from the עץ הדעת was just the beginning. By the end of the parsha, sadly, Man has become consumed by evil … and God is preparing to destroy the world. And as Tzvi just discussed in his D’var Torah, society had collapsed and the moral structure of the world had fallen apart.
What can we learn from this story? The world’s very first story?
We have to wait a few months … or maybe a few thousand years … or perhaps a few billion years, to transition from בריאת העולם to מתן תורה, when we receive a set of commandments that we can apply toward Guiding Human Life on Earth.
But we’re still left with the question: How do we bring our own Will into alignment with God’s?
We have lots of great teachings — and teachers. Yet we live in a time when it’s not always entirely clear to us what we ought to be doing with ourselves, our time, our attention, and even our thoughts.
When do we go out and seek answers from our Sources? And when do we focus our attention inward and seek answers from within?
When do we look for guidance in the law, and when do we look into our own hearts?
Tzvi and Ne’eman, I think you’re both developing a toolbox to help you wrestle with these questions. I’d even say you’ve both been working on gathering those tools for a while already.
We hear a lot these days about the importance of making good choices. The news is filled every day with stories about people who made poor choices.
Yet how do we know whether the choices we’re making are the right ones?
In trying to answer this question, I wrote down a few ideas that I thought of today to help guide you.
- Choose good mentors.
- Choose friends and companions not for their popularity and status, but for their honesty, integrity, and decency; because they can help you become better people.
- Strive to do what’s right, not necessarily what’s popular.
- Be kind to Planet Earth … and to its people.
- Remember that people are never perfect. None of us will ever be. Be patient with people.
- And then, have patience, and even more patience.
- Remember that the easy answers are often not the right ones. Take time to really think!
- Most importantly … Keep adding to this list!
I love you boys. I’m happy for your accomplishments. And I’ll admit … I’m proud of you.
Thank you Ilana for making the impossible a reality.
Thank you Mom for your wisdom and love.
Thank you dear friends for your kind support, and for making our simcha so special.
May we all merit experiencing מעשה בראשית … constant creation and renewal … in every moment of our lives.
August 2, 2015
I’m disgusted, saddened, dismayed—and yes, angered – as much as anyone, by the violent events of this past weekend. I’m also quite frankly, disappointed and scared by the harsh reactions of decent, caring, and law-respecting people, some of them my friends, who are responding with – perhaps understandable – but misdirected rage at entire sectors of the Jewish population who do not condone, let alone endorse, the horrific acts perpetrated by a few warped and hateful individuals.
In particular, I get worried when people who, under more ordinary circumstances, are deep thinkers and clear-headed deliberators, make statements aligning themselves with proposed “solutions” that are at best simplistic and at worst fan the flames of alienation and suspicion. Can we experience our justified feelings of anger and disappointment without allowing ourselves to be manipulated?
I am very upset – though sadly, not surprised – that politicians are exploiting these events for their own gain. No, I’m not naïve enough to expect they’d do otherwise. But it does make me sad when an opportunity for unity and healing is turned into yet another forum for partisan rants and shouting into the echo chambers of our most base feelings and fears … our lowest common denominator of reactiveness.
Stabbing gay people is not a tenet of religious Judaism, in any of the forms it manifests, Orthodox or otherwise. Burning Arab families asleep in their homes is no way a part of Zionism, or any expression of Jewish nationalism that has withstood the test of time. That individuals somehow associated with these groups have done so is tragic. Though let’s remember, this is a fringe, not a reflection of the vast majority.
The perpetrators of these acts should be apprehended, brought to justice, and prevented from roaming free to cause further harm. The injured should be healed, the mourners comforted, and the communities assured that their safety is vitally important and a priority for the majority of decent folks … across the various divides.
I ask that we reflect quietly before jumping to make general condemnations. That we seek to understand before making ourselves understood. That we fix what’s broken within ourselves before suggesting or imposing solutions upon our fellows.
This is very hard work, exacerbated by our collective feeling of brokenness right now. Speaking for myself, listening compassionately when I’m upset is admittedly not my strongest suit. But I frankly don’t see any other way to help bridge the rifts that are gaping wide open within ourselves, our families, our communities, and our society.
I would like to make myself available to anyone who would like an opportunity to be heard without judgement, categorization, or interruption. Or to just pray together if you find that helpful. I would like to ask that others do the same … if you feel you can.
These are rough times for the Nation of Israel — and Planet Earth – right now. And there are likely to be some difficult days ahead. Let’s be good to one another. If we’re not, no one else will.
March 28, 2015
Here’s a slightly annotated version of what I texted Ilana shortly after I completed the route:
“Finished (the 21K). Felt fantastic. Euphoric. Said shechechianu (שהחיינו) at finish line. Endorphin rush toward end was beyond anything I’d ever experienced. Was in tears most of the last 2.5 kilometers. Felt Dad’s presence so powerfully. Wow. Now I know why I did it. Felt like I just got up from Shiva and gave birth to my authentic self. Love you.”
My newly discovered “secret” to success: running—or any sport based around individual endurance—isn’t about you against yourself; it’s you with yourself. Because open-hearted kindness to yourself will get you so much farther than you ego ever will.
Be good to each other, everyone. Life’s too short for getting caught up in the BS.
Shabbat Shalom / Peace
January 4, 2015
We’ve come a long way …
Here’s an infomercial from the August 1959 edition of Good Housekeeping.
Actually, from what’s described, the training program sounds pretty rigorous.
September 1, 2014
ויפח בעפיו נשמת החיים, והיה לאדם נפש חיה
And God breathed life into man, and gave him a living soul.
This is not a eulogy. This is an affirmation of a life lived fully and abundantly.
For Dad, this is not an end. This is a transition. Yes, we are all very sad. It’s not easy to say goodbye, especially to a man who exuded such a profound sense of love, warmth, and kindness, not only to his family and friends, but to all Human Beings, and really to all living creatures.
For Dad, yesterday marked the beginning of a transition from the physical world – a place of constraint and limitation – to the dimension of pure Spirit, an abode of uninhibited connection with the Oneness of the Source; what Dad referred to so comfortably and often quite casually as Adonai – his Eternal Friend.
These past decades have seen Dad venturing out on a courageous path to pursue Universal Truth, taking him beyond the realm of convention and established dogmas and doctrines, as he strove to achieve a constant and always-available connection with God. He achieved this so beautifully and creatively through a unique blend of Jewish mysticism with enduring truths gleaned from various and diverse sources that stood the test of time, and expressed themselves by the imperative to trust God and show kindness and care to all Humans.
This meant evolving and cultivating a way of being, feeling, and living, fueled by Divine Energy that Dad was able to experience and share in this world – at times quite powerfully, at times subtly, often intuitively, and most importantly, expressed through Chessed … pure, undiluted, loving kindness and respect for Life in all its wondrous manifestations.
It was one of Dad’s core teachings that the body is a vehicle in which the soul rides during its journey on this planet. When that ride is over, and the body – the external shell — is cast aside, the soul can then experience the limitless freedom of reconnection with its Source; where no obstacles stand in the path of fully communing with God in all the ways our Human faculties could ever attain.
יהוה נתן, יהוה לקח, יהיה שם יהוה מבורך
The Lord gives, the Lord takes, blessed is the name of the Lord.
May all of us – inspired by the beautiful soul that is Yitz – merit to achieve the tender patience, the gentle kindness, the warm generosity, the sincere menschlikeit, the big-hearted readiness to forgive, the receptivity to the deepest human needs, and the enduring courage to pursue Truth.
Bless you Yitz for being a light-holder and for being an example of one who truly lives and teaches others to live.
Bless you Dad on your continuing journey. Go with God. We know that for you, there’s no other way.
We love you.
September 11, 2013
Due to a problem in the Orange network involving lack of synchronization to the updated Daylight Savings Time (DST) in Israel, phones set to use network-provided values will display the time as one hour earlier (i.e. GMT+2 instead of GMT+3). E.g. if the actual time is 08:00, your phone will display 07:00.
This also affects calendar settings and possibly other apps that are time-dependent.
This problem will continue until Israel moves over to winter clock (“שעון חורף”), that is, Standard Time, on 27th October.
The upshot is that you have the following options for working around this issue (aside from putting up with the annoyance of your phone and calendar settings being one hour off until the end of October).
- Go to Settings > Date and Time Settings, and disable Automatic / Use Network-provided Values.
- Set the time manually using Set Time; or
- Select the time zone as Athens / Istanbul (shows up in options as GMT+2, but actually works as GMT+3, i.e. E. European Summer Time).
For details in Hebrew (with apologies for my Hebrew typing limitations in real-time), see my chat with the Orange CSR, below.
Note that the Orange CSR claimed that the issue was specific to Moto Defy, but I’m now told that it’s applicable to those with other makes and models as well, i.e. it’s a generalized issue in the Orange network.
From: Orange [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: September 08, 2013 8:55 AM
To: David Egyes (degyes)
Subject: תמליל שיחת הצ’אט שלך עם Orange
מועד תחילת הצ’אט
Sep 8, 2013 1:34:54 AM EST
מועד סיום הצ’אט
Sep 8, 2013 1:45:59 AM EST
מידע: מיד תקושר לנציג Orange, תודה על פנייתך
July 1, 2013
Some Thoughts on Mom & Dad’s 50th Anniversary.
One of the Biblical narratives that’s always been most significant for Dad is the Genesis story and its account of the creation of the universe. The Biblical “Big Bang” is an awesomely powerful story. But no sooner is the world created, and we’re treated to a detailed accounting of what really characterizes our day-to-day existence; that is, human relationships in the most complex and intimate sense.
Just a bit further on in Genesis is the story of how a man is expected to leave the home of his parents and “cleave to a wife,” as Adam joined with Eve. Today I would ask that we pause for a moment, and open ourselves just a bit to hearing that voice that speaks to the highest parts within us; that we consider the Biblical metaphor of cleaving, perhaps in an entirely traditional framework, but perhaps in less traditional contexts, or maybe in ways that weren’t imagined at the time it was first said.
The metaphor teaches us about the specialness, the holiness, and the need for coupling. What’s the ‘take home’ message here? That real cleaving means sticking with one another and staying together, truly joining, giving each other the love and support that’s needed to really build a life with one another.
We’re witnesses to this today, as we gather in celebration of Mom and Dad’s wonderful marriage. What are we learning? That success in marriage — in any committed relationship — means growing together despite most often being very different people.
It’s not only a pleasure for me, but a privilege to be in the presence of so many couples who’ve been together for so long, over the decades, through good times and bad, or should I say, through easier times and less easy times. It gives me a very warm feeling that among those present today are several couples whose weddings I even attended so long ago.
While we’re celebrating one really big anniversary, I think it’s fair to say we’re also celebrating marriage and being a great extended family and circle of friends.
When I told various people that I was traveling to attend my parents’ 50th anniversary celebration, the result was, of course, many warm congratulations, but also some puzzled looks of incredulity. While recognizing what an achievement 50 years of marriage represents, I think people also experience, on some level, a sense that such a celebration so much flies in the face of what’s common in our throw-away culture and modern society of instant gratification, of disposability, of I want it all and I want it now. Some folks just can’t believe it. Well, let’s believe it!
Rabbi Nachman taught that each of us has an indestructible part that nothing can erase or destroy. This is the part of ourselves that we rely upon in moments of distress and despair. We might not always know what to call it, but it’s what gives us a doorway out of our own darkest moments, and enables and inspires us to reach out in support of others.
I think that so much of marriage and coupling is being able to see that special element in one another, as well as in ourselves, and to remember it when it’s seemingly dormant or otherwise not so easily apparent.
Thank you, Mom and Dad. Thank you for sticking together, for loving one another, for loving us all. Thank you for making us a great family. We love you.
June 30th, 2013
June 9, 2013
Those of us who’ve been using MS Outlook for several years or more have by now likely amassed a rather sizable and deep hierarchy of private folders. Contained in a .PST file, these folders aren’t searchable by name, as Outlook doesn’t offer such a facility as part of its mechanism that lets you search for filed emails. While you can search for emails based on a variety of criteria, if any of those items returned as a result of an Advanced Find operation is in a deeply nested folder, you’re then stuck with the task of figuring out where in your folder hierarchy to dig in order to find that sub-folder.
Fortunately, this limitation can be circumvented by running a VB (Visual Basic) Office macro, available through the “VBOffice” web site. Prepared by a fellow named Michael Bauer back in 2010, this macro contains all the code Outlook needs in order to display an elegantly simple search dialog where you specify a searched-for folder name.
For those familiar with MS Office automation and development, simply copy the code into a module, assign the module a logical name, and once you’re back in the main Outlook UI, run the macro.
The procedure below is written for those interested in becoming more familiar with Office automation. Following these steps will enable you to save this macro to Outlook, and run it at will.
1. Hold down the Alt key and press F11 to open the VGA development window.
2. In the Project pane (in upper-left portion of the UI), select Module > right click > Insert > Module.
3. In the VbaProject.OTM pane (toward center-screen), copy over the code from the link above.
4. In the Properties pane (in lower-left portion of the UI), rename the module, e.g. FindPrivateFolder.
5. Toggle back to the main Outlook UI and click the Customer Quick Access Toolbar menu.
6. Choose More Commands > Customize Ribbon.
7. Under Customize the Ribbon: Main Tabs, select the Developer checkbox and click OK.
8. In the Developer tab, click Code > Macros, and run the macro you just created by selecting it.
9. In Outlook Options, select the Customize Ribbon > Choose Commands from: Macros.
10. Under Customize the Ribbon: Main Tabs, choose Folder > New Group.
11. Name the command, e.g. Folder Search.
12. Click Add to attach the macro to the newly created group, and click OK.
13. Rename the command, i.e. to make it shorter and more intuitive; and if you wish, associate it with an icon.
May 29, 2013
Before resorting to Restore Factory Settings as a solution to frequent or constant screen freeze-ups in Android devices, here’s a tip that could spare you the pain of reconfiguring your device from the ground up and reinstalling your apps from scratch. Occasionally, a data corruption can cause an Android device to freeze upon booting, or when the device is trying to display its home screen. This problem presents itself, for instance, when you press the power button to wake up the device while it’s in sleep mode, but instead of displaying its home screen, it simply freezes up. Getting the device to restart might even require pulling out and reinserting the battery. When there’s a data corruption affecting home screen activity, even taking this step doesn’t necessarily restore the device to a functioning state, a very frustrating and disconcerting situation. Often, this necessitates doing a Restore Factory Settings (aka Reset Factory Data), referred to commonly as “wiping the phone clean.” However, you may be able to avoid—or at least delay—taking that step by performing a less “radical” measure that involves simply clearing the stored data from the Home Activity application (runs on all Android devices).
See the link to Just Answer > Android Devices for details on how to perform this fairly simple troubleshooting procedure. Then, if it turns out that the data corruption is serious enough to require a restoration of factory settings, at least you’ll take that step knowing you’ve tried a less invasive procedure. To view the procedure, follow the link: http://www.justanswer.com/android-devices/783yp-application-home-in-activity-home-not-responding-force.html.
February 21, 2013
I recently started getting popup ads with ridiculous frequency, like at least a dozen per hour (and that was a minimum), non-stop, as long as my Chrome browser was open (I’m running Windows 7, Chrome version 24.0.131257m). This was despite having my browser settings defined to block all popups. To make matters even more irritating, in addition to these ads being repetitive and constant, they weren’t even interesting, focusing mainly on things like weight loss, face lifts, and how to make lots of money surfing the Internet (yeah, right).
Getting back to business, after ruling out a virus (see news and discussion about Adserv virus), I went ahead and confirmed that my browser was indeed set to block popups. This led me on a fruitless and frustrating course of checking, rechecking, and making all manner of adjustments to my Chrome popup settings, an annoying mini-project that played out over the better part of a week.
Finally, I’d more or less given up, resigned to either re-installing Chrome, or limiting its use. However, before taking that step, I decided to do a search on what seemed to be the name of one of the companies putting out these ads. To my luck, I came across a Google Group, of all places, hosting a discussion describing the (pretty simple) solution.
The online discussion I came across suggested that “Insta” extensions—such as InstaTwitter, InstaTumblr, etc—in Chrome were the actual culprits. Why this is an issue in Chrome and not in Firefox or IE isn’t clear, though indeed, it seems to be a known problem.
So in my case, the solution was to disable InstaTwitter. Though I’ll provide, in addition to the (simple) solution that worked, the procedures that didn’t work; this might be useful for conveying the overall discovery process, which included some dead-end steps.
(However, note that these procedures might work just fine as solutions to other popup- and ad-related problems in Chrome.)
Didn’t Work #1:
In the Chrome browser, doing as follows:
2. Advanced Settings
4. Content Settings
6. “Do not allow any sites to show pop-ups (recommended)”
Didn’t Work #2:
In the Chrome browser, doing as follows:
1. Performing steps #1 – #5, as above.
2. “Allow all sites to show pop-ups”
3. Manage Exceptions
4. Block the following (your popups may differ; these were the ones I was getting):
In the Chrome browser, do as follows:
2. Task Manager
3. Select InstaTwitter (or any other “Insta” processes like InstaTumblr, etc).
4. Click End Process
5. Close Task Manager
You may have to repeat the procedure for subsequent reboots or new log-ins to your PC. Or perhaps you could disable the Insta processes permanently.