Monday, October 30, 2006

Maharshag and Borer

Disclaimer: This is not meant to pasken Halacha L'Maisa!

A couple of Rabbis from Hungary asked the Maharshag (bio at bottom) whether a prevalent custom in Hungarian shuls could be a problem of Borer: when an individual would receive an aliyah and pledge a certain amount, they would remember how much the person pledged by bringnig out a bag of play money (think Monopoly money) and setting aside that amount in the play money. Since they inevitably may pull out money that they don't want, and would have to separate it from the money they did want, the Rabbis thought it could be a problem of Borer.

Answered the Maharshag: since, after Shabbos, the money that was set aside as a reminder will be put back in the bag with the rest of the play money, it is not Borer. He suggested taking a look at the Melacha the way it was done in the Mishkan: the wheat kernels were separated from the chaff, and the chaff was then eventually discarded. The Maharshag explains that only in a case where the P'soles isn't coming back together with the Ochel do we have a case of Borer, as this is what the process was in the Mishkan. Again, since the money was going to be remixed, this custom cannot be likened to the Melacha done in the Mishkan, and it is therefore muttar.

On top of the fact that this p'sak is interesting in and of itself, his method for coming to this p'sak, and the way the Maharshag operates in general is unique. While he quotes Rishonim, Achronim, contemporaries, etc, he's not afraid to make a p'sak based heavily on his understanding of the sugyos. He just looked at the Av Melacha, and made a comparison right from there. No playing around - if it's not comparable to the Av Melacha, there's nothing to talk about. He even goes as far as to say explicitly that one doesn't need to bring proofs from Rishonim and Achronim. And, finally, he's not afraid to stick his neck out on the line. He doesn't care how many people are up against him; if it makes sense to him, he's going to write it. My kinda guy.

Anyway, many people see potential Borer issues with selecting clothes from a closet on Shabbos (not going into the details). Additionally, taking a sefer from a stack of seforim, according to many, is a problem. The Maharshag, in these cases, would say that since they (the clothes and seforim) are going to eventually go back to their places, it is similar to the play money going back into its bag and should be 100% muttar.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Good Cop

It appears not all cops are bad. After my last run-in with the law, I was left with a bitter taste in my mouth for law enforcement. That taste will be no longer, however, after my latest run-in. Tonight, while in Frederick, I was pulled over by a cop. He informed me that I was being pulled over for doing 50mph in a 25mph zone. Having seen that trying to sweet-talk a cop hasn't worked in the past, I had no intention to try this time. He asked me how my driving record was, to which I replied, "Pretty good - been a while since my last ticket." I then responded in the negative to his question to whether my license was suspended, revoked, etc. After waiting a few minutes, he handed my license and registration back to him with the sweet words of, "You got a $160 break tonight - just slow down."

Things like this don't happen to me. I was already calculating how much my insurance rates were going to go up when I heard this sweet words. My wife recommended bentching gomel. A few possible reasons he let me off, as offered by friends and myself:
  • he was so happy to pull over a car with upstanding individuals, as opposed to the Frednecks that he had been pulling over all night, all with suspended licenses
  • he looked up my driving record and realized that I REALLY couldn't afford another couple points on my record
  • he was Jewish and helped a fellow member out after seeing my kippa
  • looking at my kippa and felt bad for me for being Jewish
  • he liked my wife's sheitel

Whatever it was, I don't care. U Da Man.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Noach #2

The pasuk in Noach, 6:9 tells us:

אלה תולדת נח נח איש צדיק תמים היה בדרתיו את האלהים התהלך נח:

“These are the generations of Noach; Noach was a completely righteous man in his generations; Noach walked with G-d.”

The Yismach Moshe deals with the last couple of words; that Noach walked with G-d – he wants to try to dig a little deeper and see what this possibly could mean. According to one opinion in Rashi, Noach wasn’t all that great of a guy; in fact, if he were to have lived in another generation, perhaps he would’ve been considered a nobody. Trying to figure out exactly what Noach did that was wrong, the Yismach Moshe cites the gemara in Moed Kattan that basically says that even though G-d decrees certain things, a tzaddik/righteous person has the ability to change these divine decrees.

This, he explains, is the major flaw of Noach. As a tzaddik (at least in his generation) he had the opportunity to change the divine decree; had the opportunity to prevent the flood. But, he was complacent. The Medrash tells us that Noach had the opportunity to pray for the nation and try to save them, but he didn't. Complacency, it seems, was Noach’s major pitfall. And how do we see this from the pasuk? When the verse says that Noach “walked with G-d”, it means to tell us that Noach agreed with the decree of Hashem, and didn’t do anything to change it.

If you think about a non-Jewish king, one can’t fathom trying to change his decree. Imagine the king telling someone that he owes $100 for taxes, but the person comes back to the king with a compromise; he only wants to pay $10. Surely the man would be killed for his chutzpah. Hashem, as the gemara tells us, is different. While G-d decrees certain things, we aren’t innocent bystanders. Noach had the opportunity to change this decree, and he choked.

Complacency is what let the flood happen, and complacency can lead to some much unfulfilled lives. Whatever situation one finds themselves in, it’s very easy to accept their place as a “divine decree”, and not to do anything to change it. Whether that be a job/position they aren’t thrilled with, religiousness, a relationship, whatever; being complacent never helped anybody. We, with our king, have the opportunity to mold our existences, and by not doing so, we’re selling ourselves short.

Johnnie Walker Journey Experience

So apparently I got on a Johnnie Walker e-mail list a while back, and while I normally delete the e-mails, one caught my eye. It invited me to a free JW event in DC, so I figured what the heck. I looked into it, and it seemed to be pretty legit, so I went with two of my buddies last night. We were told to arrive at least 30 minutes early to ensure that we would be able to get in, but I had heard to actually get there earlier because these things were supposedly pretty popular. I got there 55 minutes ahead and I was the 2nd person in line.

Upon arrival and checking our ID's, we were led into a hall where a couple of bars were set up. We were given a coin entitling us to a free drink, and I went with a straight Johnnie Walker Black on the rocks. The funny part is that I actually despise JW, but just went because it was free. Anyway, after drinking the JW black and nibbling on carrots, we were led to the main presentation part of the evening, led by one of their whisky "ambassadors." He basically went through the history of the brand, and went through and explained a little about each of their 5 labels, that were laid out nicely in front of us. We were surrounded by projection screens, which, while it was pretty cool, had nothing to do with scotch and was just a marketing ploy. All in all, it was worth it, as I got to taste Blue Label for a second time. The flavor didn't impress me, but my oh my, the finish did. A couple highlights from the experience:

  • After going through a couple blends and having us drink them straight, the ambassador recommended mixing the Red Label with either ginger ale or Coke. Not once did he recommend drinking it straight, as he clearly understands exactly how bad Red Label is.
  • After showing a technique to detect flavors in whisky whereby you pour some of the whisky in your hand, rub your hands together and smell, a friend of mine says, "It does remind me of the woods. Smells like horseS!"
  • When asked what one of the labels smelled like, one of the people down the row from us replied, "Mother's milk".
  • A couple of lads were clearly only there to get drunk and sat down, drank all of their spirits in front of them, and bolted.
  • There was easily a minyan of kippot there, and another minyan of frum people that had removed their skullcaps.

Best of all: it was FREE!

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Parshas Noach

The Torah tells us in 6:13:
.ויאמר אלהים לנח קץ כל בשר בא לפני כי מלאה הארץ חמס מפניהם והנני משחיתם את הארץ
"G-d said to Noach, The end of all flesh has come before Me. The earth is filled with violent crime because of them, and so, I will destroy them and the earth."
Rashi, commenting on the final two words, "Es haaretz", says that it shouldn't read read as "them and the earth", and gives two alternate explanations. First, he says "es haaretz" means "min haaretz", meaning that he will take these people FROM the earth (ie, they will be killed). More of note, for our purposes, is his second explanation where he says that "es haaretz" means together with the earth, and notes that the 3 tefachim (handbreadths) on the top of the land was also blotted out and eroded away. There must be some significance to this specific amount of 3 tefachim; why not 10, why not 100? Interestingly, this shiur of 3 tefachim is that which a plow reaches when it it used on the land.

If we go back to Parshas Bereishis, we see that Noach is given his name because, "This one will bring us rest from our work and the anguish of our hands, from the soil which Ad-noy has cursed" (lashon Nechama; ie. Noach). It seems that Noach brought something to the world that gave it some sort of Nechama in regards to work; there was something in the world post-Noach that lacking the pre-Noach era. Rashi comments there that what was it that Noach brought to the world? A plow. OK. That's two plow references - what gives?

Before Noach and the plow, humans were passive beings. Whatever vegetation there was existed, not because humans worked to make it so, but rather, because G-d made it so. It wasn't until Noach and the plow that humans went from being passive beings to active. Interestingly, the Paneach Raza (one of the Baalei Tosfos), quoting the Medrash, says that before Noach's generation, people didn't have fingers as we know them. Essentially, people had stumps for hands; after all, what did they need their fingers for? This, now, was the first time they had the opportunity to take that which G-d had given them, and work it themselves; this required fingers. However, with the plow came great risk. Beforehand, it would've been pretty hard to claim that G-d didn't exist. As passive beings, they were forced to agree that everything that existed was around because Hashem wanted it to. Only after people started to work the land did people start to think that they, themselves, were the reason for their success, and not Hashem.

So we see, that even though the verse says that the world was destroyed because of "Chamas" and "Gezel", these actions were only a result of what came about with the plow. Only after people started forgetting who was the source of their sustenance did people sink to a level of robbery and thievery. It is now clear why Hashem took those 3 tefachim off of the earth during the destruction. He needed to show us that really, he's the one in charge. Yes, we are now active beings in the world and yes Hashem thinks this is a good thing (after all, according to the Medrash, he made human beings with fingers as a result), but we're only active beings because Hashem is our source. He took those 3 tefachim to tell us that really, at the end of the day, the plow doesn't matter.

There's no cute takeaway message as there often is, aside from the fact that every once in a while, we need to remember who's the boss. Whether for good or for bad, he's calling the shots. We should keep this in mind, because it is only when we start to have these doubts do we move on to other aveiros (ie, Chamas, Gezel, etc.).

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Bobby B Must Go; JoePa Can Stay

Florida State, since it's inclusion in the ACC, has always been a national powerhouse. Before my time at UMD, to watch a UMD/FSU football game would've been like watching an all-star squad vs. the Maryland School for the Blind (yeah, I almost linked to that - but I think that would be over the line). Even though things got better during my time in college (I think we even beat them my senior year), there's no way I'd have laid money on the Terps.

Things, at least for this year, have changed. They're 4-3, and one of those wins was a 7-point defeat of the Maryland School for the Blind - oops, I mean Troy. Heck, FSU is only favored by 4.5 over my Terps this weekend. The question is: is it time to start thinking about another coach, and get rid of the seasoned, heralded Bobby Bowden?

Bowden's got a lot to hang his hat on: 2 National Championships, 12 Conference championships (from 92-02 straight!), and a 289-77 record. The dude's been there since 1976. Can Bobby B. hang his hat on these accomplishments enough to keep him around at FSU? The argument has been made that he's done so much for the program, he deserves to go on his terms, and is untouchable.

I think that's ridiculous.

Perhaps it's because they're young; after all, they play 17 freshmen regularly. But certainly, over the years, Bowden has young teams. Something is different now. It only takes a few subpar seasons before Bowden will no longer have the recruiting edge over other Florida schools like Miami and UFlorida. It only takes a few subpar recruiting classes to ruin a program that, in its ACC tenure, has never experienced failure. If Bowden is, in fact, the reason for the mediocrity, it could set the program back 5-10 years. While I'd like to see nothing more than UMD run over FSU for the next 5-10 years, the more sensible thing for the powers that be at FSU to do is to remove the "untouchable" tag that Bowden currently owns. If they don't think he's the reason, fine. But if they conclude he is, to allow him to ruin the program for 5-10 years just because he's done so much up until now would be ludacrous. Bobby B., if he understood this, should realize when it's time to go, rather than holding the program hostage.

Florida is a hotbed for football talent. With 3 top-25 programs in FSU, Miami, and UFlorida, top recruits have a choice of where to go. They're going to want to play for a winner; not a has-been. However, Joe Paterno (Penn State), is under less presure, I believe, due to the fact that they are in the state of Pennsylvania. The majority of the best players in the state are going to want to stay in the state, but they don't face the same in-state competition that FSU does. I'm not sure they're too concerned with UPenn or Temple stealing their players.

The bottom line is that boosters give money to athletic programs to provide scholarships to the best athletes possibe. Boosters want a winner. It's no wonder the boosters at FSU are calling for his resignation - they're dollars aren't going towards a winner. To allow Bowden to stick around would, essentially, be throwing the boosters dollars down the toilet. And then, the boosters will start to give less and less, and then you're really in trouble.

Bobby B: you've done a lot, and produced one hell of a football family...but, you're not untouchable.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Bereishis - Nesivos Shalom

R’ Chaim Vital in sefer Shaarei Kadosh that good and bad Middos/personality traits are not included in the 613 mitzvos. This is a bit tough to swallow: if the purpose of the Torah to teach us how to live, by giving us mitzvos, wouldn’t it make sense that grouped in/inferred from the mitzvos would be middos?

On seemingly unrelated point, the Nesivos Shalom asks a question on the very first Rashi of the Torah. Rashi brings the famous statement from Rebbe Yitzchak: The Torah should’ve started from Parshas haChodesh, the first commandment in the Torah; why does it start here from Bereishis/creation? He answers that we start here so that in the event the Goyim come and say that we’ve stolen land that was rightfully theirs, we can quote this and tell them that the land belongs to Hashem and he can do whatever he wants with the land. It’s a decent answer, but it only answers why the story of creation is included; it doesn’t answer why everything after creation up until Parshas haChodesh is included. Why does the Torah include the stories of Avraham, Yitzchak, and Yaakov, if there are no mitzvos and it doesn’t help the potential claim of the non-Jews.

As is probably obvious by now, we can piece together these two questions quite nicely. Sure, middos aren’t in the 613 mitzvos, but we have this huge chunk of the Torah from after creation until Parshas haChodesh that serve this purpose. If you were to ask anyone what we learn from our Avos, they would tell you that each represent a different Middah/personality trait (ie. Chesed for Avraham, etc). The torah isn’t just a story book; rather, it is obviously a book that serves to teach.

In a theme similar to that discussed before Yom Kippur, before we can worry about the daunting task of fulfilling the 613 mitzvos, we need to make sure our middos are in check. If we fail rectify our middos, we are missing out on that which the Torah wants to teach us in a large part of the Torah. Sure, I can focus on those mitzvos that can be compared to staying in a penthouse suite (ie. Learning), but if the building doesn’t have a strong foundation of middos, the building is going to fall.

For a more expanded DT on this theme, see ADDeRabbi's DT from last year.

Perhaps this is a lesson that needs to be taught to certain individuals whose actions are described here and here.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Teach it To Your Children...

I look forward to teaching my children the valuable lessons of life, the same way this father is...

Friday, October 13, 2006

Maybe We Do Have Something In Common....

I'd never think I'd agree with anything that a guy wearing a kaffiyeh on his head thinks, but perhaps we've found that common ground now...

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Succos D'var Torah

The Nesivos Shalom addresses the question of why Succos is celebrated when it is. Chronologically in the story of the exodus from Egypt, the Jews left and were subsequently taken care of by Hashem with Succahs. Since this protection was afforded after leaving Egypt, it would make sense that Succos is celebrated after Pesach – not before it. While many address this question, the Nesivos Shalom explains beautifully why Succos is before Pesach, and more importantly, why it immediately follows Yom Kippur.

When we were leaving Egypt we were leaving behind something that was so fundamentally a part of us for over 200 years – the Egyptian/non-Jewish culture. Yetzias Mitzrayim was our “breaking free” from that which had become ingrained our existence. When we were finally out of Mitzrayim and on our way, the verse says that we raised our eyes and saw the Egyptians chasing after us. Explains the Nesivos (with my additions), when something becomes so fundamentally a part of another thing, and one part tries to break off from the other, the part left behind inherently wants to chase after the other part to rejoin it. You could look at this situation as simply the Mitzrim chasing after the Jews, or you could look at it as the Egyptian culture chasing after the Jews. About to enter the desert, the home of the Sitra Achra, the Jews needed help. So, what did G-d do? He shielded them with Succahs, protecting them from any evil.

Interesting, we are facing a current struggle right now, at this time of the year. Unfortunately, throughout the year, sins and sinning becomes ingrained to who we are. On Yom Kippur, we break away from this part of who we were earlier in the year. However, just as the Mitzrim and everything they stood for chased after the Jews after they left, our sins are chasing after us right now. How many people do you know that, right after Yom Kippur, went back to exactly the way they were beforehand? Sure, we get into it on YK, but after a couple days, unfortunately, it’s back to the status quo. This is our sins chasing after us. Just as Hashem provided us with Succahs to shield us from the Mitzrim, we should take the Succah and everything it represents to protect us from the current onslaught of our former sins.

So what is it exactly that the Succah represents? The Succah represents Emunah. Just as the Jews had Emunah that Hashem would provide protection for them in the Succahs, we have Emunah that, in our little cheap huts, Hashem will protect us as we make our huts our home during this festival. We should all focus the rest of our holiday laying the spiritual foundation of Emunah and we should all succeed in out running that which is currently chasing us.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006


One of the truly beloved things in my life has died. Yes, you read correct - my Ipod's hard drive is dead. Anyone that knows how I am with music will tell you that this is a truly sad day. We will be sitting shiva at my apartment this evening...

But really - has anyone had this happen to them and successfully gotten their Ipod to work again? Because it isn't under warranty anymore, my only option is to send it away to one of these non-Apple affiliated places. Many seem reputable, but it's going to cost me at least $150. Does anyone know any other, preferably cheaper, option?

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Great Bitul Zman

Well, it's Chol haMoed, so being mevatel your zman is allowed - well, at least according to me. If you're a sports fan that has 15 minutes of time, please listen to this - it's so damn funny. To make a long story short, it's a rant from a radio guy in East Lansing, Michigan in response to their loss to their ridiculous breakdown in a loss to Notre Dame.

Listen here.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Ah Gitten Moed

Man, I miss college. This pic was taken last Chol haMoed, before the UMD/Va. Tech Thursday night football game at UMD, as posted by ADDeRabbi (he's far right).

And if you're curious - yes, it's allowed to drink beer/liquor outside of the sukkah.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Get Your Shake On...

A good Tom Tov and Chag Sameach to all!


I figured I'd tell everyone about my experiences with VOIP (Voice Over IP). Basically, VOIP is a newer phone service technology in which no phone lines are used - it's all done over the internet. Basically, you plug in the router they give you to your high-speed internet connection, and you, in turn, plug the phones into the router. Wala, that's it. Your phone rings just like it used to, and when running efficiently (as it does 98% of time), you really can't tell the difference between VOIP and a regular phone line.

We were fed up with paying upwards of $50-$70 a month to Verizon, so we decided it couldn't hurt to at least give it a try. Specifically, we chose the company Vonage (you've seen the commercials) as it has been around for the longest and its supposedly the most reputable. Because VOIP doesn't use any actual phone line, there are FAR fewer taxes than there are with a standard phone company. A Verizon plan which claimed to be $50, actually ended up costing us closing to $70. With our service, it's $24.99 a month, and with tax it comes to $27.24 total. This price includes all local and long distance calls, with all of the features you're used to (caller ID, voicemail, etc.). Additionally, you can add a "virtual" number to your account which is basically another number people can call to reach you. The benefit of this is that if you live in one state, but all of your friends live in another state/country (Israel, for instance), your friends can call the # that will be a local call for them, yet reach you in another state. It's a pretty neat technology and I'm interested to see where it goes from here.

There are a couple of issues that one must be aware of, however. First of all, one must have a high-speed internet connection; dial-up won't do it. And most VOIP is only compatible with a cable modem - most of you taking advantage of the Verizon $14.99 DSL will probably be out of luck. Also, if you do a lot of downloading and other things that take up bandwidth, you're likely to get choppy reception and/or a delay. Finally, of course, this is dependent upon your internet connection, so if you lose power, your phone service stops. However, they have a call-forwarding feature in place that if you're VOIP isn't working, you can have all calls forwarded to another phone (ie, cell).

It's pretty amazing that the overwhelming majority of people I talk to have no idea about VOIP and/or Vonage. For those of you that may be interested, I recommend checking out this Vonage forum site which discusses VOIP in general, and Vonage specifically. It's a user-friendly site with something on it for novices and experts alike. If you're having a problem or any questions about the service, as I have along the way, you can post your question in the forum and you're likely to get a response quickly. Watch the news section for breakthroughs in the technology, among other things.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Kiddush Hashem and Chillul Hashem

As Jews, we have a responsibility to represent not only ourselves and our families, but our people as well. Whether it's right or wrong, one blunder while wearing a kippa could cause an ignorant person to attribute that blunder to all Jews; and the same works vice versa. Essentially, I think the mainstream definition of a Chillul Hashem is a situation where non-Jews or non-frum Jews think less of the Jewish/frum population due to the actions of the (frum) Jew. On the other hand, a Kiddush Hashem is made when one positively represents the Jewish people to the outside/non-frum world.

I think these definitions are wrong. I think they deserve a more literal translation.

I think a Kiddush Hashem (KH) is, literally, when one does something to sanctify G-d. Not necessarily sanctifying G-d to other people (although it could be); sanctifying G-d is possible when there is no one around. So how do we make a KH? Simple. Do things that G-d wants us to do; things that (we think) makes G-d happy. How do we make a Chillul Hashem (CH)? Do things that G-d doesn't want us to do.

So what are the practical differences between these two definitions? A couple cases in point:

There is/was a case in town of a guy that wouldn't give his wife a get. After futile protests at his residence, a protest was planned at the University of Baltimore law school, where he was a student. Many people felt this was a ridiculous thing to do, as they would be causing a massive CH for anyone who was around and curious enough to ask. The passersby would inevitably ask what is going on, and they would then be told that in Judaism, only a man can divorce his wife, and not vice versa. This would surely cause them to think negatively about the Jews. This, precisely, is what the dissenters claim to be the reason for not having the protest downtown. I disagree. I, after some thought, was 100% in favor of this protest, assuming those who planned it really thought they had a chance to make progress. Why? I don't think the CH in this case is the potential negative views of the passersby. The CH, in this case, is the fact that the guy won't give his wife a get. This surely doesn't please Hashem. Any progress towards getting this guy to give the get is, IMHO, better than staying silent and keeping Hashem angry. While I do not deny that a certain CH would be created by this protest, I think the potential KH outweighs this CH.

A friend recently told me about an incident at his work, where his boss is a Kippa-wearing Jew. Basically, the boss had an idea which he wanted to implement in order to save what, in the opinion of the employees, was a meager amount of money. One of his co-workers said something along the lines of, "You know, I hate to say this, but after all he is Jewish..." This instance obviously caused the coworker to think less of the Jews by perpetuating the stereotype of Jews being cheap. Perhaps one could claim that men at work shouldn't wear kippas, for anything they do is likely to be scrutinized and attributed to his Jewish heritage. Likely, anything good that this yid does will be attributed to the fact that he's a nice guy (but not a nice JEWISH guy), while anything bad will be attributed to the kippa. Anyway, I think the KH, in this case, is the fact that this guy is proud enough about his Yiddishkeit to wear a Kippa. The CH, IMHO, would be for the guy to take off his kippa out of the fear of misattributions. I would like to think that Hashem likes when his people are proud of their heritage (without throwing it in peoples' faces) and not ashamed of who they are. (I would like to add here that obviously there are professions in which wearing a Kippa is not conducive the work conditions due to conscious/unconscious biases that could affect parnasa[ie, lawyers]. I'm not talking about this guy)

While I definitely think we need to see ourselves as representatives for our people as a whole, I don't think this is the only critera defining KH and CH. We also need to keep in mind what Hashem really wants from us and our actions, and weigh these two (often) conflicting definitions when considering how we should act.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Kol Nidre Thought

Many of us have spent the past week asking for our friends and family's forgiveness, as it is well known that Yom Kippur can only help one atone for sins that are between Man and G-d. Therefore, one much request forgiveness from his/her friends in order to completely head into the new year with a clean slate.

One of the highlights of Yom Kippur is Kol Nidre, of which we pray that all vows that we have broken in the past year (or in the year to come, depending on what you hold). If we think about how a broken vow fits into either Man-Man (bein adam l'chavero) sins or Man-Gd (bein adam l'makom), it doesn't really fit into either. If I make a neder that I am only drinking Sprite for the rest of my life; well, this isn't exactly bein adam l'chavero because I am the only person involved. But, also, it is tough to consider it bein adam l'makom on the same level with sins like Avodah Zarah. I consider a broken vow to be in a sort of 3rd category: bein adam l'atzmo (between Man and himself). Essentially, we are being dishonest with ourselves. I tell myself that I'm only going to only drink Sprite, but I'm lying to myself.

I believe that before we can even focus on sins bein adam l'makom or l'chaveiro, we need to make sure we are being honest to ourselves; we need to make sure we've got our bein adam l'atzmo in check. Sure, we can apologize for that which we've done to our friends and to G-d; but if we don't trust ourselves enough to follow through and discontinue this behavior, we will have accomplished nothing. Let's build a foundation of being true bein adam l'atzmo so that our other sins will be more readily accepted this Yom Kippur.