Friday, April 28, 2006

Parshas Tazria Od Pam

So I belong to a bunch of halacha/parsha e-mail lists, which flood my inbox on a daily basis. I liked this Dvar Torah alot, and I have pasted it below.

Parashat Tazria presents the laws of Tzara'at, a skin disease that would come upon a person as a result of the sin of Lashon Hara (negative speech). A person who discovered a Tzara'at infection on his skin would go to the Kohen, who would inspect it and determine whether or not it was indeed Tzara'at.The Mishna states, "Kol Ha'nega'im Adam Ro'eh Chutz Mi'nig'ei Atzmo" - "A person sees all infections, except for his own infections." This refers to a Kohen who discovers Tzara'at on his own skin. Although he is empowered to inspect Tzara'at infections on all other people and determine their status, he is not entitled to inspect a lesion found on his own body.

This Halacha teaches a very important lesson in human nature. People notice the faults of others, but not their own. When it comes to other people, a person can draw up a long list of character flaws; regarding one's own faults, however, he always manages to find some justification. We tend to be blind to our own shortcomings, while being keenly aware of the faults of others. This nature is very dangerous. If a person never takes notice of his own shortcomings, he can never work to improve himself; he will remain spiritually complacent and stagnant.

For this reason, many great Rabbis made a point of assigning others to come and offer them rebuke. The Gaon of Vilna, probably the greatest person alive in his time, hired the Maggid of Duvna to come and criticize him. The Maharshal would hire a cabdriver, a simple Jew, to tell him what he was doing wrong. And it is told that the Chiddushei Ha'Rim, one of the great Chassidic masters, left the Yeshiva in Kozhnitz where he had studied because there he was constantly told of how great a student he was and how he was guaranteed a large share in the World to Come. He found it necessary to move to a different Yeshiva, where he would be informed of his faults and shown where he has room for improvement, rather than be complimented for his greatness. These Rabbis understood human nature, the natural tendency to take note of everyone's faults except for one's own, and they therefore ensured to have somebody to point out to them their shortcomings.

The Rabbis instruct us to love those who offer us rebuke, and to be wary of those who compliment us. Although compliments and praise make a person feel good, they cause him to become complacent, rather than working to improve. The Mishna tells us, "Make for yourself a Rabbi, and acquire for yourself a friend." A "friend" is not a person with whom to socialize; a friend is somebody who, like a Rabbi, offers constructive criticism. Without such a friend, a person can never grow; he will never learn of his faults and imperfections.A story is told of a physician who informed his patient that he suffered from a serious disease. "This is not a nice thing to say," the patient replied. "Why don't you tell me something positive and favorable?" The doctor, of course, reminded the patient that his intention is only to help him, by giving an accurate diagnosis so that the problem can be properly treated.The same is true about criticism.
Many people don't like to hear criticism from a Rabbi. But this is the Rabbi's job; like the doctor, he is responsible for informing people when something is wrong, where there is a problem that demands attention. Rabbi Yisrael Salanter would say that a Rabbi who does not make his congregants feel uneasy when he speaks from the pulpit is not doing his job. His job is not to tell the people how great they are, but rather to point out where they have room for improvement. Criticism, like a physician's diagnosis, can only help a person, by showing him the faults that he could never see on his own

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Parshas Tazria

The parsha starts out talking about a woman that gives birth, and the purity/impurity processes, and how they different for a boy vs. a girl. The Torah than goes on to command her:
" תביא כבש בן שנתו לעלה ובן יונה או תר לחטאת אל פתח אהל מועד אל הכהן "

("...she shall bring a sheep within its first year for an olah-offering, and a young dove or a
turtledove for a sin-offering...")

We often take the Torah's language at face-value, so the simple understanding of this Pasuk is that the woman has to bring two sarcrifces - an Olah and a Chatas, in that order. However, Rashi comments that this isn't the case - that the Chatas is brought up first, and only then followed by the Olah. He explains that this is the order regarding the "reading" (the Kohanim would read the section of the Torah that deals with a particular offering before they would bring it), but it would be brought on the Altar in the opposite order. This begs the obvious question - why is the order different from the lashon of the Torah?

As a seemingly unrelated, but very related point, the Kedushas Levi wonders why the Torah calls Passover Chag haMatzos, but we call the holiday Pesach. He explains that when G-d refers to Passover as Chag haMatzos, he is giving shevach (praise) to us, saying "Shkoiyach to the Jewish people, who were mezarez (quick) in their exit from Egypt, not even having any food with them except Matzos". He continues, that we call the holiday Pesach because we are saying praise to Hashem, "Shkoiyach for passing over us by the plague of the first born".
Basically, the Kedushas Levi is saying that our relationship with Hashem is one of "Ani L'Dodi v'Dodi Li" (I am to my beloved as my beloved is to me). Hashem only wants to say Yasher Koach to us, and we only want to say Yasher Koach to him. He likens it to the Gemara in Brachos where it comments that Hashem likes to say "Mi K'amcha Yisrael" in praise of us, and we like to say "Shema Yisael..." in praise of Hashem. Ani Dodi v'Dodi Li.

A chaddishe sefer (I couldn't make out the name on the mp3) brings down the same logic by our question of why the Torah seems to imply that the Olah sacrifice comes first, but in reality, the Chatas is brought first. If we look at what the sacrifices, this makes sense. A Chatas sacrifice is a sin-offering, we use it for ourselves as a punishment and kapara for the sin. It is entirely for our benefit. However, a Olah offering is an elevation-offering, a gift completely for Hashem. So, when the Kohanim read the scriptures before bringing the sacrifices, they want to sing praise to Hashem, and they do that by reading our verse which mentions the Olah first - the one that is entirely for Hashem. But, at the end of the day, what G-d says goes, and he therefore chose to have us in mind first, as we bring our sacrifice (the Chatas) before his (the Olah).

It is human nature to be a bit selfish - to look our for onesself before all. This is entirely healthy, and nobody's asking anyone to do differently. However, it is easy to learn from this back-and-forth between the Jewish people and Hashem that in any situation you are in, while you should look out for yourself, make sure you are at least taking into account the other persons' position and think about where they are coming from, or what it may be like to be in their position.

This shiur was originally given by R' Baruch Simon, a Rosh Yeshiva at YU. I haven't read them, but I heard his seforim, Imrei Baruch, are great.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Context Dependent Behavior

Growing up on a baseball field, I wasn't always exposed (or exposing others) to the cleanest of language. Spending up to 5 days a week between practices and games, baseball, and the language that came with it, became part of my daily routine. Of course, there came a time when those "glory days" of spending many days a week on the diamond had to come to an end, and it was time to move past the "on-field" lifestyle I had grown accustomed to; it was time to grow up.

As I moved past my baseball prime (about my sophomore year of college), I knew it was time to distance myself from where I was coming from and bring myself closer to where I wanted to be heading. I became more outwardly religious, I focused more on my studies (don't worry, not that much), and it was now time to make myself into the person my wife would've wanted to marry. This process was, of course, sped up by the fact that I was now removed from my baseball lifestyle.

A couple of years back I joined a somewhat-competitive Sunday morning softball league. After playing in the league I have come to acquaint myself with a lot of the players in the league - well enough to know that they're decent guys. What I find interesting, however, is that a lot of these guys (I am not excluding myself) are saying things and doing things on the field that they would not do if they were off the field. Men who don't use vulgar language any other time scream profanities when getting under one and popping out to center; men who claim to have quit using tobacco products "dipping" when offered (I am excluding myself from this one); men showing tempers otherwise non-existent off the field.

Am I saying these people are bad people? Of course, not - I'm the same way. Sure, I've replaced the profanities themselves with their first letter (ie, F, S) but I still wonder if I would want my wife to come see what goes on on the field (luckily for me, she sleeps in). It's the same reason an alcoholic should avoid bars - they may be a changed person, but the moment you throw them back in to the scene they revert back to their old ways. I would hope that most of us in the league are more refined individuals now in our 20's and 30's (and 1 guy in his 60's) than we were in our high school/college years, however, throw us back on that diamond and we're the same old jock idiots.

Clearly, when one is becoming a more refined individual, they first become more refined in situations in which they spend most of their time (ie, in public, at work, etc.). The next step to becoming more refined is applying those refined qualities shown at work to all facets of ones life - something that for those who grow up on a baseball diamond and continue to play into their adulthood, is easier said than done.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Quick Note on Shevi'i Shel Pesach

Shevi'i shel Pesach is most notably known from Krias Yam Suf - the splitting of the Red Sea. It is during this event that the Jews sang the first Shirah (song) that appears in the Torah (and presumably the first communal Shirah in Am Yisrael's history). This song was obviously a sign of gratitude towards Hashem. However, the Nesivos Shalom asks: were the Jews not blown away by the plague of blood, beasts, frogs, or any of the other plagues? These makkos (plagues) were clearly brought to help the Jewish people - why not sing Shirah then? It is only by the splitting of the sea that they first decide to sing. The Nesvios goes on to give his own (deep) answer, but I will give my own. As a disclaimer, this is entirely my thought, without scriptural basis - I more than likely developed the end message first, and then adapted my idea around it. That being said, I liked the thought so much it is worth blogging at 5:00a.m. Anyway...again: why no Shirah by the plagues?

My theory is that each individual plague was brought to help remove the Jews from the harsh slavery and persecution they faced on a daily basis by the Egyptians. G-d saw that we had done 400 years of work in only a 210 year period - and our stint of duty was up. Therefore, he brought the plagues only to end the persecution. However, Moshe Rabbeinu knew that the crossing of the sea was going to lead them not just away from Mitzrayim - but rather, towards Kabbalas haTorah (receiving of the Torah). This, I believe is why he led the nation is song only by the splitting of the sea. He was excited, not merely to be leaving Egypt, but to be going towards something greater, and he felt that a song of praise was in order.

There is such an emphasis on Pesach of freedom this and freedom that. We lean because we are free people and no longer under persecution. Some say that the 4 cups of wine have to be an alcoholic beverage, because, as free people we are allowed to drink alcohol, while slaves cannot. Freedom, Freedom, and more Freedom. That is the emphasis of the Sedarim and the first days of Pesach. What is Shevi'i shel Pesach and the Shirah coming to teach us? It teaches us that if we merely dwell on the fact that we are free, we have missed the boat. It isn't where we're coming from - it's where we're going. Sure we're free people now, but how are we going to use that freedom? Moshe was excited because he knew we were going to receive the Torah and that was the best way imaginable to use our freedom. Sure, G-d was the man for bringing the plagues upon the Egyptians; but Moshe wasn't sure how we were going to use our freedom - therefore, no Shirah. Let's not rest on our laurels; let's use the freedom that Hashem gave us at the splitting of the Red Sea (and here in America, too) and let's focus on using this freedom for something positive rather than just being happy that we have the freedom to begin with.

It's easy to talk the talk; but can you walk the walk?

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Pesach Food

Guest Author - Dan the Man

I'm just going to go to it. There are about 25 foods or so that I'll eat on a regular basis. Pesach prohibits me from eating about 17 of them over those eight days. That leaves me with 8 foods that I would eat during the year that I can still eat on Pesach. And that's the stuff I found myself buying at the stores. So the food I did need to buy is quite limited, and starting about two weeks from now, I'll be bringing matzoh farfel, milk and sugar to work with me on the first annual Bring Matzoh Farfel to Work Day. It'll be an accepted Jewish holiday as of 2012.

As we scrolled through the Passover-special aisle like it was a blat of gemara, my mother--my chevruta (emphasis on the "ta" as Brovender's girls would put it)--kept insisting that I buy Herrs Potato Chips or some other form of snack. I then pointed out the most logical and rational argument of my life: "I don't eat those the other 357 days of the year. Should I start liking them now? Will my newfound liking for them dissipate when my chometz is sold back to me by imaginary goy 42 minutes after the holiday ends?" See, that's the thing that comes up when you shop for pesach food. It's just such an interesting thing that happens as people prepare for Pesach: Because food is somewhat limited, they decide to eat things they don't particularly like, instead of just sticking to the foods they know they like. Egg kichel, borscht, leben and other products are around throughout the year, yet nobody partakes in them because they're awful. Then suddenly Pesach comes around and soup nuts and chocolate spread becomes a reasonable mid-afternoon snack? I'll stick to my blueberry jelly and Temp Tee, thank you very much.

Of course, the classic example of this is macaroons. Do a poll in October and ask people if they actually enjoy the taste of macaroons. This is the hypothetical I posed to my dad today. We concluded about 25 percent of people would say they do, although it\'s probably a wee bit higher because people always lie in polls (Adam really beat Narch). Then go to the market next Sunday and see if 1 out of 4 carts have macaroons in them. Ha! In truth, 3 out of 4 will. And those extra 2 of 4 people with them will find, to their amazement, that at the conclusion of the holiday the macaroons haven't been touched. Because at some point between that poll and now, they have forgotten they don't like macaroons. And this was the argument my mother was making why I should be stocking up on them, even after I said I don't like them. "What else are you gonna eat?" she asked. See, if you treat yourself as a savage, eating macaroons is a step up from little critters and leaves (though some are served in those bags of lettuce I have seen). But I surprisingly have a more upbeat view of the holiday, as I can find stuff like Matzoh pizza that I can enjoy instead when I get hungry. In fact, I have gone so far as to say I like the Matzoh version more than the regular version of pizza. So why do so many people fill their carts with macaroons? I have a theory. In the past 30 years, Pesach has changed. Ask your parents what foods they grew up on and I bet you that macaroons was on the list and artichoke hearts was not. There is a wider variety of foods available now than ever before. So shouldn't that lead people away from macaroons and toward marshmallows? Au Contraire! See, our parents continue to buy macaroons--even though they confess to not liking them--because it reminds them of Pesach of yore. It's like intrinsic in the mitzvah for them. As the baby boomers retire, however, expect 25 years from now not to ever see macaroons on the shelves anymore. It will become widely accepted that nobody likes them--or eats them--and they will lose their symbolic value as our parents start to die off.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Pesach Torah

Breaking Teeth

The Hagaddah says that for the wicked son (the rasha, spelled: Reish, Shin Ayin, remember this), a punishment of breaking his teeth (teeth, translated: shinayim) is in order. An obvious question: if we want this child to understand and appreciate Judaism, isn't there a better way to do so? You would think maybe an explanation is in order, or possibly even a potch. But to break his teeth?! That sounds a bit extreme.

Says the Belzer Rebbe: the rasha isn't completely wicked. He's only wicked externally. We can see this if we look at the outside letters of the word Rasha, Reish and Ayin, which spells Ra, or evil. But, what's left on the inside? The hebrew letter Shin. Shin, says the Rebbe, has 3 legs, one for each of the Avos: Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov. This Shin symbolizes the Pintele Yid (spark of a Jew) that we all have, even the most evil among us. Our job, ends the Rebbe, when faced with the Rasha is not to break his Shinayim (teeth), but to break away his Shin (the letter) from the other two letters (Reish and Ayin). We break apart the Pintele Yid from the Ra (evil) and hope that it, when standing alone, can flourish in a new environment.

Kadesh Urchatz

The U in Urchatz (really a Vav in Hebrew, meaning "and") seems to be connecting these first two steps in the Seder. No other steps are combined with this Vav - this must be coming to teach us something. However, these two things seem to be out of order (yes, yes, I know that we ALWAYS make Kiddush before we wash, but that is just halachically - if we look at the seder from merely a halachic standpoint, we're missing the boat). There is a concept of "Sur Mayrah v'Asay Tov" (literally, remove the bad, and then do good). This concept teaches us that if one is a bad person and wants to become better, first he must remove the bad in his life and then, and only then, should he do the good. Regarding Kadesh (Kiddush) and Urchatz (washing), Kadesh symbolizes the "Asay Tov" (making Kiddush is doing something positive), while the Urchatz symbolizes the "Sur Mayrah" (because we wash to remove the bad from our hands). Therefore, these two things are seemingly out of order - we should wash, remove the bad, and then make Kiddush, and do the good. Why is it like that?

The answer is because, even know we have the concept of "Sur Mayrah v'Asay Tov", this was not how our redemption from Egypt happened. There, we were at the depths of impurity - certainly not righteous Jews. Nevertheless, G-d redeemed us from Egypt. We see then, that
G-d removed us from Egypt before we were clean. According to our concept of "Sur Mayrah...", G-d should have waited until we had removed all impurity before he did his good deed of taking us out. Because G-d was the man and took us out even though we weren't pure, and the the Asay Tov before the Sur Mayrah, we make Kiddush before we wash.


The first section of the Haggadah, "Ha Lachma Anya", is written in Aramaic. This is unlike the rest of the Haggadah which is written in Hebrew. If the rest is in Hebrew, why is this section in Aramaic - what is it coming to teach us?

Historically, there have been other parts of our Jewish vocabulary that have emerged from Aramaic, most notably: the Jewish months (ie Tammuz, Sivan, etc.) Why did we take these from Aramaic? After the destruction of the first Temple, we sat in exile in Babylonia (where we spoke Aramaic and had Aramaic month names). Now, Hashem originally didn't want to build another temple until the end of time (ie, the 3rd one which we are now awaiting), but changed his mind had decided the 2nd one would do. However, this Temple lacked certain things which the 1st one had - for example: the Aron. Those coming from Bavel to Yerushalayim for the 2nd Temple period realized that this Temple was going to be lacking and decided to hold on to the Jewish month names - to teach their children that even know we are offering Karbanos on the Temple and all is good, it could still be better. Even though they had a Temple, they needed to be reminded by the Aramaic months that they could have more - they need to work for it.

So too, by our seder. The Aramaic paragraph (which is interestingly enough, the first paragraph) teaches us that even though we're celebrating being freed/redeemed from Egypt, we can still do better. It's important to remember that which happened in the past, but not at the expense of doing what it takes to ensure the best possible future for Klal Yisrael.

Connection between "Ha Lachma..." and Inviting others...

The paragraph starts out, "This is the bread of affliction, which our ancestors ate in the land of Egypt.", and is immediately followed by the phrase, "Let all who are hungry come and eat. Let all who are in need, come and celebrate Passover." What is the connection between the "bread of afflication" and inviting poor people over?

The gemara in Sanhedrin answers the question of why Hashem only created 1 man to start the world, and not many men. The answer, says the gemara, is that Hashem wanted to avoid any unnecessary arguments. If we all descended from 10 people, and not 1, it would inevitably happen that people would kvetch, "My Av was the best, better than the other 9." So, to minimize this, we all came from one person - we all have a common bond.

So why invite people at this part of the Seder? Why not do it earlier? We wait because this "bread of affliction" is another common bond, much like Adam haRishon. It didn't matter what type of Jew we were coming out of Egypt, we all had to eat the Matza (bread of affliction). Therefore, this is an appropriate time to invite the poor. We say to them, "it doesn't matter how much money you have, whether you're the one receiving the maiser money or giving it, we share a common bond, namely, this bread of affliction (Matza).

More to be added later....

Monday, April 10, 2006


I've kinda tried to stay out of the whole Matisyahu machlokes, for a number of reasons - probably because I'm not 100% sure of my opinion on the matter. But, I just heard that he is playing at the 2006 HFStival. Now, none of you have probably been to this event, but I have. I've been a couple of times (in my yesteryear), and let me just tell you that it is no place for a beard-wearing, tzitzis-flying individual. I'm not going to give specifics, but if you want them as to what goes on at this festival, let me know. I'll assume he doesn't know what he's getting himself into - someone needs to tell him.

Also, it's a 2-day event and he's slated to play on Saturday. I remember the concert ending at about 9ish (although I always attended on Sunday), but Shabbos in Baltimore doesn't end until about 9:10 that Shabbos. I'm going to assume that either that's a typo or the festival runs much later on Saturday night. The lineup looks amazing, but still, no place for a guy like him to be.

Couldn't Help Myself....

Sorry about the picture quality. I just couldn't resist when seeing the Moshiachmobile at a Chanukah candlelighting in NYC.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Just Do It

It seems that no matter which minyan I daven at, there are only a limited number of people that daven for the amud (those who lead davening). While these minyanim are teeming with people, it’s always the same people. What’s the reason the same people daven over and over and over, oh yes, and over again? It’s not because of lack of good voice. But why is that these people that frequently lead have horrible voices? The reason, I believe, is because people view davening for the amud as a burden – and possibly below them.

Davening for the amud is a kibbud (an honor). Why would people continuously turn down a Kibbud? I have very rarely seen people turn down an aliyah to the Torah…so why turn down being Shaliach Tzibbur? It’s clear that for whatever reason, leading davening is no longer considered such. At most minyanim I frequent, I can see the perpetual annoyed look on the Gabbai’s face due to the fact he simply cannot find someone to daven Shacharis (forget Pesukei D’Zimra – people avoid that like the plague). Usually this leaves him in a bind, asking someone that he knows will do it at the last second – which, unfortunately, is often not someone with the greatest voice. It’s not his fault he has a bad voice and davens every week – he realizes that it is a Kibbud and he accepts.

Who’s to blame? Clearly those who daven at a minyan every week, have good voices, and continually turn down davening for the Amud. A good shatz can make or break a minyan – someone with a good voice can make davening a truly uplifting experience, while someone with a bad voice can make it a thoroughly miserable experience. Just step up once every couple of months, daven for the amud, and you’ll make everyone’s davening experience much more meaningful than just hearing the same Joe Shmoe every week.

And for all of those who think that this, or other tasks are below you, a quick story: There was a kollel guy that after being in kollel for a number of years, had become a well-learned man. However, when his wife asked him to take out the trash, he said no, explaining that this task was below his stature. The wife went to R’ Gifter and explained the story. The next morning, after Shacharis, there was a knock on the kollel guy’s door; it was R’ Gifter. The kollel guy invited the Rav in and asked him if there was anything he could get the Rav. Rav Gifter responded something along the lines of: “No thank you, I’m only here to take out the trash.”

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Not for Everyone

I would say that in my time in yeshiva, the majority of yeshiva guys' schedules consisted of the following:
  • Morning Seder: Gemara B'Iyun
  • Afternoon Seder: Chazara of Gemara/Miscellaneous
  • Night Seder: Gemara B'kiyus and/or preparation for the next day's Gemara shiur

I don't think that this is much of an anomaly - in fact, I think that as you move up to the better yeshivas there is even more of an emphasis on gemara and the number of talmidim with the aforementioned schedule increases.

I am not here to knock gemara. I understand that this is something that has been passed down since the giving of the Torah, and that this is our part in something we value dearly in Judaism, the mesorah. My point here is that gemara isn't for everyone. I, for one, am one of these people. I put in my time because I do understand that this my part in the mesorah, but it is not the focus of my learning. When I learn gemara with people and they are blown away by the inner workings of it, I usually sit there unaffected. Perhaps this is a learned response from being unaffected so many times, but it is what it is. I'd much rather learn the intracacies of the laws of netilas yedaim or brachos than learn the intricaties of Talmudic thought; I'd rather learn a dispute between the Taz and the Magen Avraham than a dispute between Beis Shammai and Beis Hillel.

The problem is that I think there are many "AlanLaz's" in the frum community and in the yeshivas. Those in the frum community may be looked down upon for learning a seder of Mishna Berura, while a top talmid may look at an MB for 3 minutes before davening because he arrived to shul a couple of minutes early. As for those "AlanLaz's"in the yeshivas, I believe they probably go along with the aforementioned daily schedule, while their time would be best spent mastering other areas of learning. There are those that come from frum families who label their kids as the "non-learning type" because they just don't seem to have the knack for "it" like some other children/teens may. However, I believe this label is placed due to the fact that the child/teen does not show an affinity for Gemara. Maybe they're an "AlanLaz", someone that has no affinity for Gemara, but may for other areas of learning. I once had a discussion with my Rosh Yeshiva in Israel about the fact that I did not enjoy learning Gemara, and he told me that my part in learning was to master halacha - to know it better than most. He told me that this mastery would be the best way to reap the fruits of my learning. Sure, he could've told me to learn gemara, gemara, and more gemara (although I wouldn't have listened), but this would've been a waste of everyone's time.

As a final note, I know many yeshivish-type guys that when learning with someone that is a new BT or someone that is working their way up the ladder, they emphasize gemara. When someone is becoming a BT or has recently become a BT, they are signing up to live a frum lifestyle. I believe that these people want to soak in as much of how to live this lifestyle as they can. They want to learn the halachos; they want to know how to live like an orthdox Jew. Sure, one cannot ignore the Talmud when properly and thoroughly researching a halachic topic, but this not for the BT's. My Rosh Yeshiva told me that one of his major tainahs on YU (he attended there in the 70's) was that they never taught him what it meant to be Shomer Negiah (it wasn't always a "fad" like it is today). This Rav, a BT, wanted to live a frum lifestyle. Had YU only have taught him this staple of the frum approach to relationships, he would've abided by it. Perhaps they were too focused on gemara, I don't know. All I know is that these people yearn to live the lifestyle, so they must learn how to properly live the lifestyle. When we teach them the reasons that we put on tefillin, the reasons that we wear tzitzis, they will come to appreciate these laws as more than just commandments, but as something much more than that.

Sure, let's expose them to their part in the mesorah, but let's start out with "How to Live Like a Frum Jew, 101."