Sunday, December 31, 2006

Learning Gemara with my Rabbi as a CHEVRUSA!

By the way, I am TOTALLY JAZZED!

I was talking to my Rabbi over Shabbos, and he mentioned that his Gemara (Talmud) chevrusa (study partner) couldn't study with him on a regular basis anymore because their time schedules are not working the way they used to, so he needs to find someone to study with...

I thought... "was he hinting to me that he would like to learn with me??" This was totally an opportunity for me, and so I [calmly] jumped on it. I told him that I would be willing to learn with him; he was only willing to do it if I were willing to make it a regular thing and if I were reliable. "Hell yeah!" I thought.

So we agreed to learn Gemara Sukkah over the next year on Mondays and Fridays between 9:30am - 10:30am, but under the condition that we learn it the REAL WAY [see, infra]. The time is a slight inconvenience because 1) that is the time I usually am in shul davening (praying), and 2) 10am is when I start studying for the patent bar, and 3) if I get a job with a law firm, this schedule will be difficult to keep, but I am willing to daven earlier and change my schedule to make this happen.

[THE REAL WAY]: My rabbi learned in 770 Eastern Parkway ["770"] -- the home of the Lubavicher Rebbe. In other words, he's from the old school and he learned how to learn gemara the way the Rebbe and the bochurim [students] in 770 learned gemara. I would give ANYTHING to be able to learn gemara like that.

So I am totally excited that I will be learning with him. This will be an amazing experience, and I can't wait for the opportunity to learn with him. I've learned the tractate on Sukkah before in yeshiva, so I am familiar with the text and I will (IY"H) be able to follow him when he delves deep into the words of the text. I am very excited to be given this opportunity.

Thank you Hashem!

Monday, December 18, 2006

Waiting for the patent bar exam date to arrive...

Now is the silence before the tumultuous finale. I've passed the bar. I've gotten married. I have a child 5 months on the way. I've studied for the patent bar and registered for the exam. I've applied for jobs. Now I'm in a holding pattern, waiting for things to happen (although actually like a duck in a pond)...

I am not yet finished with the studying for the patent bar, but at least I've made a regimen of studying for a certain number of hours each day and I've stuck to it. I would say that I am 3/4 of the way finished, which is both exciting for me and scary.

I sent in my paperwork to the patent office weeks ago to register for the exam plus the paperwork and the documentation to prove that I am eligible to become a patent attorney. The funny thing is that I received a letter from the patent office stating that they didn't believe that my middle initial was really my middle name, and they asked me to resubmit my application, this time providing my middle name. The problem is that I don't have one; I only have a middle initial.

I called up the director at the patent office and told him that my middle initial IS my middle name, and that there is no name associated with it on my birth certificate or any other legal documents. He thought that was the weirdest thing. I told him "it does stand for something, but the real name is just that middle initial. Do you want me to put that name on the application?" He said, "Are you asking me if I want you to lie on the application???"

I couldn't believe we were having this conversation. In short, he asked me to send him a letter and some proof of the fact that I don't have a middle name, but just a middle initial. I sent out that documentation last week.

Other than that, in my mind I am scrambling before the exam taking in every bit of time that I can to study. I must pass this exam so that I can get a job in a patent law firm.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The Mundane Existence of Twin Flames

I'm so sorry... Lately, there really is nothing to tell... at least regarding crazy experiences which merit writing in a blog. Married life has taken my former crazy emotional life, and has turned it "normal".

I still sometimes have problems sleeping... I am still reading (absorbing) books on homeopathy so that when I have a family I will be able to be not only the "rabbi" of the home, but also the "healer" / "doctor". I am still studying for the Patent Bar Exam (thank G-d, I sent out the paperwork and am waiting for a confirmation letter so that I can schedule the exam)...


The interesting thing about married life is that things become daily activities to maintain the home... Take out the trash... Do the laundry... Get the mail from the mailbox... Clean up after yourself... Shower regularly... Brush your teeth... Twice... Daven (pray) in the morning with a minyan... Go grocery shopping... Sleep at night...

The thing that I could "complain" about (if there was something) is that nothing happens anymore. We have our respective schedules, we frequently visit her parents, we visit mine, we have dinner almost every evening, we rarely go out, we sit on the couch and read at night until we go to sleep.

As for spontenaity, this is what gets to me the most. It doesn't take ONE person to make the marriage interesting; it takes two. I can get excited about something or try to be adverturous or seductive or spontaneous, but if she's not into it, the idea flops, as it often does. If I continue being excited about it and if I push the idea (which I often do), in her eyes I am seen as annoying and childish.

Additionally, I find that I make myself "busy" (a.k.a. I make myself look as if I am busy and/or productive) because if not, I am seen as lazy and am judged. It hurts that this happens, because I am the one that just finished three CRUEL years of law school and I am the one that just passed the bar exam in NEW YORK (one of the most difficult bar exams in the United States), yet she is the one that is going to work every day and so I fear that she feels I am a slacker because I haven't found work yet. Yet, in my heart I want to THROW the blame on her that I am not finished with studying for the Patent Bar Exam because she distracts me and causes my life to be so upside down; however, the truth is that I don't prioritize my days (when I actually SHOULD be studying) well... Instead, I am busy doing the stuff that she wants me to do and am busy running errands which KILL my day (each and every day). Basically, I feel like I am the wife in this relationship, and this bothers me to no end. I NEED to start bringing in some money or else I fear that our relationship may suffer longterm.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Accidentally Caught an EVP in a "Reverse Speak" recording of my wife.

I'm actually a little bit upset at what happened tonight. I was playing with my recorder and recording my wife and playing it backwards to show her how unconscious messages are transmitted by the unconscious mind using the voice as a vehicle, and I accidentally picked up an EVP.

Let's clarify. Basically, "REVERSE SPEAK" is the concept that we speak on many levels, and our unconscious minds have the ability to transmit messages through the voice, which often are transmitted backwards, and the listener's brain picks up the messages and flips them back around.

The application is that when a man tells a woman "I love you" and in his mind he's thinking "You f'kin bi*#h," that highly negative message will be transmitted in the words "I love you," often just backwards. This is why sometimes we don't believe a person's intentions, but we cannot consciously understand why. However, if the person saying "I love you" is sincere, when you reverse the speech, often you'll find supporting messages like "you're wonderful" or something as simple as "I love you" reversed too. This is a very cool thing and I've played around with it to test my intentions and hear what is happening on another level.

However, tonight I was playing with it for the first time in quite a while, and as I was listening to my wife's voice, I heard another voice in almost a whisper. I got chills down my spine when I heard it because I got the feeling that it wasn't a human voice.

I slowed down the voice and withdrew the high pitched sounds of my wife's voice, and this left me with just the whispering I heard. It was saying "GET UP."

I decided to reverse the voice and see if there was anything there. When I reversed the voice, it said "LIE." I don't know whether this was lie as in "lie down," or "tell a lie," but either way it was not a welcome voice.

I told you bloggers a few months ago that I wasn't interested in playing with EVP because I was sure that if I tried it that it would work and I would end up freaking myself out. When I was a child, I was sure I heard demonic angry sounds from our shed. I never thought about it much, but when thinking back to this set of events, I attribute this event of the demon in the shed to a vivid imagination. I don't want to mention that there was this whole experience of the floor opening up [rocks separating] and a full visual hallucination that went along with it, but let's just say that I was a child with a healthy imagination.

Bringing us back to today, I do NOT want to hear voices on my recordings, and they are NOT welcome. The last thing I need are non-physical entities ("shin-daleds") who think that I can hear them. This is the last kind of energy I need at this time.

For more information on EVP's, I just did a quick google search and came up with this web site:

As for the recording, if someone has a way for me to upload it so that you can hear it and isolate the voice better than I was able to, I would be willing to put the file on the web -- just tell me where to put it to make it available to you.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

iTunes Podcasts I Subscribe To:

I forgot the list of podcasts from the last message. Here are the podcasts I listen to each week (as much as I can) and enjoy immensely:

Brain Food, Brain Sync - Theater of the Mind, Mysterious Universe, The OU's Daf Yomi, Daily Rambam & Tanya, A Quiet Mind, All in the Mind, Investor's Edge.

Recent Podcasts I've added and enjoyed: Chiropractic Kinesiology, Dr. Peter Bennett's Heath Programs, Dr. Wayne Dyer's Inspiration, Millionaire Mind Video Podcast, Point of Inquiry, Powerliving Podcast, Reiki Articles, The Innoculated Mind - Mindcast, The Reiki Show, Zencast.

There have been others over the months, but these are the ones I've come to have on my iPod. If anyone has any suggestions of Podcasts they enjoy and find informative, please let me know.


Thursday, September 07, 2006

Ugh... Headache is still here... Slept on Living Room Floor

Ugh.. Another day of headaches... I had a difficult time getting started this morning... I fell asleep in the living room around 2ish and realized that I fell asleep on the floor when my wife's alarm clock went off this morning at 6am. I went into the bedroom and fell asleep until this morning three hours later where I missed all my morning meetings where people were relying on me.

I had a dream that my friend had a new idea for a semi-conductor chip that was living. It required a special kind of nutmeg nut, some magical water, and some sperm. The person donating the sperm in the shower got it all over me instead of in the formula. I was totally grossed out and almost threw up. People (women) took me into the bath to wash me off but then their female supervisor was coming in. The women screamed, "Tznius! (Modesty!) We'll be caught for sure!" It was at that point that I realized that if I feigned illness, they'll be forgiven and I'll be left alone. So I started pooping into my hand and rubbing it all over the wall. [In the dream, this was an okay thing to do! Yuk!] When the woman walked into the room, I moaned and said that I was sick. She understood and left the room. Then my friends came running in to show me the computer readout that the semiconductor chip was living and that it worked. The capacity for this new kind of chip was years beyond anything out in the market at the time. We were all very excited and repeated the experiment, this time with me not there.

Overall, I still have my headache from a few days ago. I'm not eating, I'm not brushing my teeth, I'm not davening, and I am having a difficult time focusing. I can't even see straight and what I'd really like to do is just to go to sleep, but I'm resisting the urge or else I'll be up all night again.

[I'd like your comments on this -- I can use some advice and feedback as to what you think is going on with me.]

Lastly, because I am unable to study and I am wasting hours playing with the anti-virus computer settings on my computer, I am getting NO studying done for three days now. I don't know what is going on, and why I can't just get with it. Am I getting sick? I feel as if I am going to pop. Does anyone have any advice?

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Laws of Family Purity (Taharas Hamishpacha) b'kitzur

The laws of “Taharat HaMishpacha” (literally, the laws of “Family Purity”) are one of the fundamental elements of Jewish marriage which a man and woman undertake to learn and adhere to before entering married life.

The laws of family purity revolve around the woman’s menstrual cycle, and encourage the husband and wife to be intimate during the times she is permitted to him, which occurs (1) after counting five days after seeing the blood from the menstrual cycle, (2) checking for the end of the release of blood from the uterus, (3) counting seven “clean” days where no blood is seen, and (4) immersing in a “mikveh” (a purifying bath). After these four steps are adhered to, the couple is encouraged to be intimate and to have sexual relations.

During the time of the menstrual cycle where the blood is flowing, the husband and wife are not allowed to have any physical relations. They must sleep in separate beds, must not touch or even speak intimately with one another, and must adhere to laws which separate the couple from acts which may lead to intimacy or physical relations.

Family purity laws are learned by both the husband and the wife prior to the marriage ceremony.

Monday, July 31, 2006

Letter to an old college friend

Dear Old Friend,

You wrote me at a very interesting time. I looked you up a few months ago -- I saw you got a grant on your research. Congratulations. As for pictures, to my disappointment, you have never been one to show up on the web with images, but there recently has been a young girl who has shown up on the google searches with your name. She is an aspiring actress, and is said to be quite good. She looks nothing like you.

I got married this past Thursday, just a day after the bar exam. Can you believe the timing? My fiancee works as a doctor, and she is from Providence, Rhode Island. We were set up by mutual friends, she moved up here to Denver, got a job, and then we met. I proposed to her after just a few dates.

As you can guess from what I just wrote about the wedding, I also just took the bar exam this past week. I picked up my law school diploma this morning. I can't believe all the studying for the bar exam is over.

As for everything else, there are a lot of pressures on me from all sides to do the things I need to get done in the next few days / few weeks. Everything is changing around me and while it is all very exciting, I have found the need yesterday and today to hide out in my new apartment and not answer phone calls because I am feeling quite stressed with all the things I still need to do. The people who are calling me consist of two main people -- 1) my rabbi who is urging me to prepare spiritually for post-wedding life, and 2) my mom who is upset about the religious customs we had at the wedding and she is wondering when we are going to visit her.

From an objective view everything seems to be right on target. I seem to be doing everything I am supposed to do. My goals are in line, my values match my actions, and yet with everything, I am totally freaking out about the whole experience of being newly post-law school without a job and with a new set of responsibilities that I have undertaken. If you are as intuitive now as you were and you are picking up my high stress levels, you can imagine why I'm pretty high stressed. There are a lot of things I need to get done in the next few weeks.

As for my spiritual path, as I know you've always loved that part of the discussion, I have found meaning in the universe through the dogmatic doctrines of my faith, and I am still delving around in the mass of teachings trying to make sense of the experiences I've had. Some wacky stuff has happened these past few years and it bothers me that religion cannot explain it or at least explain the "how" of it. What weirded me out is that for a while I thought it was all in my head until I took a video recorder and documented my experiences and was surprised to see that they were still there on the video when I played them back. When I tried to show people, they thought I was nuts, the rabbis told me that it cannot be real, and I experienced more pain than anything because immediately I felt alone because I couldn't share my experiences with others who would take me seriously. Huna gives a good explanation of the things I've experienced, and I have continued my fascination with this topic while trying to follow the master plan of how a Jew is ideally supposed to act. I know you were never into this to the degree that I immersed myself into it, but it just seemed right at the time for me to do it, and it has since become a part of me. Anyway, on another level, I've found much interest in the hemi-sync / holosync technologies and I wonder whether there is validity to their methods and applications. This is something I will pursue in the future.

As for everything else, while I have been introduced to EVP and reverse speech and other such topics, I have avoided them quite actively because I have found that whenever I try one of these things, it usually works and so I don't want to attract these kinds of energies to me because most of the energies that surround these kinds of things are violent and are not happy. Recently a psychic walked up to my mom and told her that I can talk with spiritual entities.

The problem is that with what I've learned with Judaism, these aren't the sort of entities I want to be having a relationship with, and so while a few years ago I would have meditated and tried to make contact, recently I've kind of been hiding from the whole experience and have been trying to be normal. So you don't see me meditating or doing anything weird any more, but between you and me, I've kind of figured out the whole energy interaction thing between people and things in nature and have attained a degree of control over it which I think is pretty cool.

Unfortunately, it is still not strong enough to do anything with it (and I don't think it will ever be strong enough) and it can't do anything substantial so I have no use for it other than to wonder exactly what it is, and I can't tell people about it because I feel stupid, especially because of all of the movies that have recently come out on the topic where the experience has been portrayed as a hollywood superpower and so I pretend that it is all in my imagination or that it does not exist. Plus, there is an opinion that I am doing stuff that I shouldn't be doing and I am messing with the natural order of things and that it might have consequences or attract bad things to me. At one point, I thought it was a muscle and if I practiced at it, I would get really good at it and I did, but the application of it in its present state is stupid and amounts to nothing more than a parlor trick which is useless. I wish I understood it. I don't think I ever will.

As for everything else, everybody is okay.

It's always nice hearing from you. You were always an important part of my life and I'm happy that I still occupy your thoughts from time to time.

Warm regards,

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

EVP & Reverse Speech

Oh my gosh, I am totally freaked out. I was just watching "," a so-so movie with the guy who played the original Batman and in the movie Duplicity.

I was very weirded out by the concept that one can receive communications by listening to the static of a TV set, but then I got to thinking that how cool would it be if it were real. Then... AT THE LAST SCENE OF THE MOVIE... There was a message on the screen saying that:

"7 out of 10 (Electronic Voice Phenomenon) messages contain violent messages."

Huh? You mean this stuff is thought to be real? So then I did a search on for "EVP" and I found a WHOLE BUNCH OF SITES that talk about this "phenomenon" as if it is a real thing. Here are a few just to get you started:, the skeptic's dictionaary, American Association of Electronic Voice Phenomena.

Holy Smokes! This totally weirded me out, especially from a Judaism point of view. Judaism teaches about the structure of the universe, and it talks about Angels, Demons, Spirits, and non-physical entites, and the laws for and against interacting with them. However, this is all theory -- there is no experiential side to these teachings, at least not for simple people like you and me.

I then surfed from site to site, and I noticed that on some sites they actually had some sound file recordings of the EVP messages and their relevant contexts. I played them, and it weirded me out further. I wondered after playing a few soundbites whether this might attract these unhappy spirits to me and my house, and I wondered what energies would be attracted to it by playing these sound bites. After all, if these non-physical entities are trying to communicate with us, then obviously someone who is paying attention to their existence might attract them. This scared me because from what I know about Judaism, any entity that contacts me here on our level cannot be a good thing, because our physical world (called Asiyah) is in a position only to attract the evil spiritual forces. There is more to this and I am sure my statement will be misunderstood, but this is not the place to go into it.

Bottom line, if this is real, then this is scary for me because it makes very real things that I only thought were in my mind and in my subjective experience. I have been told by countless psychics that I have contact with non-physical entities on a regular basis, but I have always thought [and still do think] that this was all a bunch of bologna.

Anyway, I don't want to be contacted by spiritual entities, and it weirded me out at how easy it was to do so, and I am sure that if I tried this EVP stuff that I would get some massive results because with my hearing and my sensitivity to magnetic sounds and visual distortions (my brain doesn't filter out all the visual impressions that my eyes receive as it should and so I see streaking patterns all day long -- again, a topic not for this post [in fact, I've written about it in the past])... Okay, bottom line, this stuff scares me and the fact that it is somewhat a "science", that scares me even more.

It scares me because it reminds me of a phenomenon I am VERY FAMILIAR WITH called (a web site describing this can be found here). When I was in college, I analyzed recorded conversations and especially my highly emotional diary entries and I found messages embedded in my own voice that were totally relevant to what was going on at the time of the recording -- but these messages were only found when I played the recordings BACKWARDS. Maybe I'll put a few of them up online in the near future. I spent many weeks working on this project and found significant results to the point that I got weirded out by the whole thing and then stopped it. I also scared a few people along the way.

Another reason I scrapped the project was because I was getting negative messages about the relationship I was in at the time telling me the whole thing wasn't going to work out, and I thought the messages were my imagination. Hindsight, the messages were 100% on target and that relationship totally didn't work out for the exact reasons the reverse messages said they wouldn't.

Anyway, enough weirdness. Back to bar review. I am sort-of uncomfortable with the subject because it might be real.

Friday, July 07, 2006

A few quick things.

Firstly, I have 18 days and 5 hours, 8 minutes, and 11 seconds until my bar exam.

Secondly, I am doing well. I am totally in study (cram) mode, and I will expect from myself more than I have asked from myself in many years.

Lastly, there is a site:
I'm very impressed with their free software, which allows you to have internet access (so to speak) even when you are OFFLINE. Cool, eh?

In sum, much is going on, and I am half asleep and have to wake up in a few hours to meet with my Rabbi to get fitted for a Karpota for the wedding. This is totally exciting.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Lacking Energy to Fly

Just wanted to write an update on my progress. I am totally wiped out from all of the burden the bar exam requires me to bear (that is, if I want to pass), and I have been feeling that lately my energy level has been dipping a bit.

Yes, I did pull an all-nighter and I did get to bed at 7:30am on Tuesday, but I was sort of hoping that my energy would kick in, and it hasn't. I kind of feel like Spider Man in the second movie that while he was flying through the air, he lost his ability to spin webs and shoot them from his wrists and he crashed to the ground.

Luckily, I'm no spider man (although I DO have a huge propensity to get bitten by spiders, and for some weird reason I am always attracting spiders and getting bitten by them, but then again, there are also times that I am sensitive to electricity and I have a tendency to get and give electric shocks quite easily. Along this same line of thought, I can hear a TV turn on with the volume off hundreds of feet away from me. This freaks some people out.)

Anyway, as I was saying, luckily, I'm no spider man. I'm just a simple Chassidic guy who is trying to do my duties to G-d, to my community, to my family, to my friends, and most importantly, to my future wife. I'm trying to stay religious and do as much as I can while the pressures of the bar exam breath down my neck and loom around me while maintaining a healthy relationship with those I love and care about. Sometimes this can be quite a balance.

Anyway, so as it stands, I am lacking the level of energy I would like to have, and thus I am totally exhausted from all the work I've been doing to prepare for the bar exam. I look forward to it being over soon mamesh, Amen.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Nervous Breakdown?

[Sorry for editing this post; I removed a few things that I felt would give away my real identity, and I wrote this blog entry out of frustration.]

I know I'm totally supposed to be positive about everything, but I am so over stressed that I cannot even see straight anymore. Last night, I was talking to my wedding planner, and he was giving us all these catering options, etc., and I told him to STOP IT because I couldn't take it anymore. I felt like I was literally my head was literally going to pop. I'm not kidding.

I am wondering whether I am moving close to a nervous breakdown. I am so overwhelmed that I can't even see straight anymore.

Here are my issues:
1. I don't have a handle on the money issue regarding how my Callah and I are going to pay for the wedding, and we have not yet had the discussion on whether we have the same beliefs about how money is to be handled. We also haven't discussed exactly how we plan to pay for living expenses and this is stressing me out.

2. I feel that there are so many things that need to be done on both my end and on her end, and this is overwhelming me, especially because 180% of my time is taken up by studying for the bar exam.

3. There are some basic ways as a Chosson and Callah are supposed to be interacting during the engagement period, and we are walking the fine line between the type of relationship that secular lovers have versus the relationship that a chassidic Chosson and Callah would have.

Point being, steam is coming out of my ears and pressure is being felt behind my eyes SO MUCH that I fear that if I don't relax, I might actually break down. When I said I feel like I am going to pop, I am NOT KIDDING.

Friday, June 23, 2006

There is just so much to do to study for the bar exam. At first, I was just reading my bar review notes until our lecturer strongly spoke to me and told me that if I don't consistently do practice essays and MBE questions, I am guaranteed to fail. So now I switched my study method from just reading and memorizing the notes to doing problems, but there is SO MUCH to do. I feel like I'll never catch up.

A Soldier's Burden

I found this cartoon from to be quite smart.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

I was just looking at my blogger archives, and it seems like there are no entries for April of this year. Did I not write anything for a whole month??

Friday, June 09, 2006

Bedbugs? Carpetbugs?

WTF? I fell asleep last night lying on my dad's carpet because I was working on doing bar review questions in the living room on the laptop. This morning and all day since waking up, I've been totally itchy as if I'm being bitten by mosquitos. What's going on?

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Former Logos

While surfing on Life of Rubin's site, he posted an article noting that Google didn't put a custom logo for Memorial Day as they customarily do for many other holidays. I followed his link to's site which included images of past custom google logos that were put on the google site during the various holidays. I experienced some pleasure going through these. The link to the site can be found here. I even remembered some of them when as they were used.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Darn, it's 4:32 am and the birds just started chirping outside and I haven't even started my studying for my exam in a few hours. I guess I will stay up all night. I better get cracking!

I must note that I've had a blast tonight blogging and writing. Plus, with all the web surfing I did tonight, I've learned a lot about the projects I'm currently working on.

Book Shelf Content and Image Analysis

I get a kick out of looking at people's book shelves to see which kinds of books they have and the particular order in which their shelves are organized. For example, I was entertained by the picture on Greg Gershman's site. I enjoyed the selection of Torah books, and the way his secular books were mixed in with them. His shelf reminds me of my book shelf, and because I think quite highly of my book selection, I also think highly of his. I told him that I would be interested in seeing the full picture, because you can learn a lot about a person by looking at the selection of books on his book shelf.

By the way, if any of you would be interested in e-mailing me pictures of your book shelves at home, I would be happy to post your picture on my site with my character analysis of you based on the books contained in your bookshelf and their organization. Of course this doesn't obligate me to do so, but if I found the time, I would really enjoy doing it because I enjoy this kind of stuff. Keep in mind that I need to be able to see and recognize the titles of the books, so if you e-mail me a picture where I can't see the books, I won't necessarily be able to give you my character analysis of you.

Additionally, I have been known to be quite on target by looking at a picture of a person and giving my opinion of their character by reading their facial characteristics. I do this for my own personal enjoyment, yet the people I've done it for have been quite impressed with my interpretations.

Warm regards,

Petition to Bring Moshiach Now!!

In the "Boker Tov, Boulder" blog, I saw a post about a petition to bring . The petition link is HERE. My opinion is that it is a cute idea, and it doesn't hurt to sign it. I can't see how it can have any effect, especially since people will undoubtably question the validity of the document. However, maybe G-d will be surfing the internet one day soon and will come across the petition and decide to listen to our desires. May Moshiach come now! -Zoe

Yetzer Hara: New Wikipedia Entry

The "" is the Hebrew word for the "evil inclination." Over time, there have been many opinions as to exactly WHAT it is, however all opinions agree WHAT it does. The function of the yetzer hara is to cause a Jew to sin, which means to transgress either Torah Law or Rabbinic Law.

The yetzer hara has been known to be one of the most clever entities to rule a person, and it is very smart the way it causes a person to sin. The yetzer hara fights for control over a Jew's will, and it seeks to influence the Jew to act against G-d's will at every opportunity that it can.

There is a parable that appropriately describes the Yetzer Hara. There once was a king who hired a harlot to test out his future son-in-law's loyalty and fidelity to his daughter. He told the harlot that her function is to work her hardest to cause the son-in-law to give into his desires with the harlot and to tempt him to participate in acts of infidelity with her. Both the king and the harlot both hoped and prayed that the future son-in-law would not give in to her temptress advances.

In the process of completing the king's instructions, the harlot was permitted to assign and she assigned her duties to another harlot with the instructions from the king to cause the son-in-law to give in to her advances. That harlot assigned her duties to another harlot with the same instructions, and so on. Eventually, the instructions were passed from one harlot to another, and eventually, the desire that the son-in-law resist the harlot's advances were lost. The only purpose of the harlot was to cause the son-in-law to indulge and give in to her advances.

In this parable, the king is G-d, the son-in-law is the Jew, and the harlot is the Yetzer Hara.

In truth, even the Yetzer Hara while tempting the Jew to sin by trying to get the Jew to violate one of G-d's commandments is serving G-d by doing His will.

The role of the Jew is to weaken the Yetzer Hara by not giving in to its temptations.

Further, the Yetzer Hara becomes stronger when a Jew indulges in activities, even permitted activities. Therefore, it is a practice for a Jew who is wishing to wage war with his Yetzer Hara [to weaken it] to obstain from activities that he finds that he or she is attracted to. The most common example when this concept is being taught is to abstain from indulging in a steak, or in ice cream, or in sexual acts with one's spouse, even though these activities are permitted.

Side Note: In Yeshiva, I used to find it so funny and yet disturbing that the Rabbis, when teaching us about not indulging in our sexual desires would use the example of not indulging in cake. Us bochurim (rabbinical students) used to joke around with each other and talk about what the reprocussions are for eating and for not eating the cake. In my opinion, there is no similarity between cake and a sexual desire. Chocolate is good, but not that good.

Negelvasser: New Wikipedia Entry

"" has it's source in the Yiddish Language. It is the washing cup that is used to remove the impurities that have come upon the hands of a Jew through contact with forbidden objects or through the impurity that rests upon one's hands upon awaking from sleep (that is longer than 20 minutes), because sleep is akin to 1/60th of death according to Jewish Law.

The cup has to be able to carry a certain amount of water, and it should have two handles.

There are two ways to use the negelvasser, and that depends on your purpose.

The first way is the general and most common use of the cup, which is to remove impurities from the hands that have come upon them. This first way of washing is done after waking up from a state of sleep, after going to the bathroom, taking a shower, engaging in sexual relations, or any other appropriate use. The prevailing custom is to pour water over the right hand first, and then to pour water over the left. While halacha (Jewish Law) requires a minimum of two times for each hand, according to Kabbalah, and Chassidic (including Chabad) customs, one should wash each hand THREE times.

The second way to use the negelvasser is when you intend to have a meal, which means you wash your hands and then you say the " netilas yadayim" beracha (blessing) over your hands. You then proceed to take a piece of bread (or during the Sabbath, two full challas or two challah rolls), put them together, and say the "...hamotzi lechem min ha'aretz" beracha (blessing) over the meal you are about to eat, and then you dip the bread into salt three times (some have the custom to pour the salt over the bread, however the dipping is more proper according to Kaballah.) The way to wash here is to first pour water three (or two, minimum) over the right hand, and then to pour water over the left hand three (or two) times, and then say the beracha. Keep in mind, when saying this kind of beracha and taking part in this kind of meal, you are obligated to also say the after-berachas for the meal, also called in Yiddish, "bentching".

Friday, May 19, 2006

Okay, it's 2:36am and I am totally exhausted, yet I have so much more work to do for tomorrow's exam. I don't want to fall asleep because then I won't be prepared for the exam and all I want is to get past tomorrow's exam with flying colors. This is the second night in a row that I have stayed up. I'm going to enjoy a nice nap tomorrow.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Who is a Jew?

[This blog entry was pasted from a comment I wrote to TikkunGer as a response to people challenging him on his Reform conversion into Judaism. The link to the actual articles are here and here. As a disclaimer, I want to point out that I am not an expert on conversions into Judaism, and so please do your own research and consult a proper rabbinic authority before relying on anything I have written here.]

The conflicts you’re facing are coming from the point of view that most Reform conversions aren’t done according to the requirements of Jewish law, and thus they (each considered on an individual basis) are not valid. On another note, choosing to be Jewish isn’t like choosing to be a vegetarian. The conversion process is probably the most important thing to do properly and strictly (even if you have to do it over again if your original conversion wasn’t kosher), and most Reform Jews don’t know the law or even think it has any validity and are not a reliable source for conversion. As a Jew (or as a neophyte), playing sides with Reform versus Conservative versus Orthodox when it comes to a conversion will only get you in trouble. It’s probably best to do it in a way that nobody will have an issue with your conversion, and then resume living as a Jew according to how you see fit.

[Hindsight, TikkunGer commented that lying that one would keep shabbos, kosher, etc., when he has no intention of doing so just so he can get an orthodox conversion would be a conversion in bad faith, and it would probably be void anyway. I agree with him. However, when I said "in a way that nobody will have an issue with your conversion," I was referring to the actual ACT of conversion should be done in the strictest way possible. It is totally possible that the conversion requires as one of the acts a promise to keep the Torah and its commandments -- keep in mind, I have never converted, so I don't know exactly what is done -- and if that were the case, converting with the intent of not keeping the commandments would be committing a fraud which would probably void the conversion. My point, however, is that the conversion needs to satisfy the elements of what is needed for a conversion to be kosher l'chatchila / bidieved. If a necessary element is missing from this equasion, then the conversion is not valid, no matter which sect performs the conversion.]

I should say that I am honored that this blog title was kind of in my honor. I read your description of your conversion process, and there are basic physical activities that must be done for the conversion to take place. That being said, it is highly possible that you have completed those physical actions.

I do know that as you said, the orthodox community requires you in addition to take upon the commandments of a Jew, such as kashrut, shabbos, and family purity. I'm guessing it mirrors the acceptance of the Torah and the commandments as is what happened on Mount Sinai a few thousand years ago. However, if it ever became important for you to know whether your conversion was proper (I'll explain why in a sec), I would call the local rabbi and I would describe the details of your conversion. It is possible that you might have already done what was necessary.

Anyway, I knew that my comment in the last post would probably spawn some controversy, but I think that a friendly challenge or poke from time to time is healthy so that you can truly know where you are standing and why, as I believe you do.

There is the concept of being culturally Jewish, and then there is the concept of being matriarically Jewish (yes, through a Jewish mother), of which this second status can be achieved by a conversion into the faith. If during your life you realized that your identity is that of a Jew, I would posit that G-d has, in His infinite wisdom and for a purpose, put the holy spark of a Jew inside of you, BUT He caused you to be born into a non-Jewish body, probably for a reason. It is possible that there was an extra purification that needed to be done specifically through YOUR conversion to Judaism, and that act alone could be the reason you were put on this Earth; after all, as you said, too many people are born Jewish, but they don't have the slightest idea of what that means. I think you pursuing a conversion to make your body match your soul was the proper direction to take.

As for my comment to Ami, yes, the PREREQUISITE for being a Jew and for your children to be Jewish is that your wife be born Jewish of a Jewish mother, or that she be Jewish through a kosher conversion (meaning that the physical activities that constitute a conversion were completed). If the conversion isn't done properly, then you cause a whole bunch of problems for yourself and your soul. For example, if I remember correctly, a non-Jew is forbidden to keep Shabbos.

You are right in your observation that there is a problem in Judaism today in that we are in exile, and there is no central authority to determine what is proper and what is not proper. Of course, there is the Code of Jewish Law (the Shulchan Auruch), but the problem is that branches of Judaism have disavowed their allegience to the law and they are serving G-d in whatever way "they" want to serve Him. These people serving G-d however they feel most comfortable -- them being by their nature physical and limited in both intellect and understanding -- they are not serving G-d the way He has told us he wants us to serve him. Even the non-Jews agree that G-d gave the Jews instructions on how to serve him, and G-d gave the Torah to the Jews. This deviation from precedent is wherein lies the problem.

If, for example, your wife told you that she needed to HEAR that you loved her in order for her to feel loved, and you instead bought her gifts, but you never told her you loved her, or, if you gave her hugs but you never told her you loved her, you must ask yourself 1) do I love my wife? The answer is probably ABSOLUTELY YES. However, if you ask yourself 2) am I communicating my love for my wife in a way that she will receive that love? [by TELLING her you love her], the answer will be NO. Loving your wife YOUR WAY and not HER WAY is not going to make her feel loved. Wouldn't you want to communicate your love to your wife in a way that she will feel that love? If not, and you are loving her for your benefit and not hers, then your love is not for her, but for yourself.

This is the same when it comes to the different sects in Judaism. There are certain commandments that G-d told us he wants us Jews to do and to abstain from, as is codified in the Torah, the Oral Torah, and the Shulchan Aruch. Us disregarding that and serving him however we feel fit, but not doing the commandments he asked of us is not serving Him; it is serving ourselves.

It is a problem today that there are sects that have taken it upon themselves to omit and/or change certain parts of the Torah. Certain sects have even (G-d forbid) taken G-d's name out of the Torah and out of the prayer books. Other sects have come to the conclusion that the Torah is only a man-made story and there was no Mount Sinai nor was there a Noah, a flood, or a Moses. These people call themselves Jews (and many of them may be Jewish based on their heritage as long as they haven't intermarried to a non-Jewish wife and had non-Jewish kids) and yet they go around calling themselves Jews but metaphorically spitting in G-d's face by 1) not accepting his Torah and by 2) not doing his commandments. Yet they still have Friday night meals and they still cook bagels and lox, have matzah balls in their soup, and say "oy vey". This doesn't make them Jewish. Being Jewish or not is very specific. And this being said, it is possible that you MAY VERY WELL BE JEWISH without any question or doubt.

Do you see the difference between being a Jew and acting and feeling Jewish? Even Hitler (may G-d erase his name from history) killed practicing Christians and members of many faiths based on the sole fact that someone up the matriarichal line was Jewish, therefore they were Jewish whether they practiced the faith or not.

That is why I said that regardless of with whom you did (or do) the conversion, as long as the elements of a conversion have been satisfied and the right things have been done, your conversion is kosher and you are a Jew.

Pascal's Religious Logic

Pascal's Logic Applied to Religion: If you choose to believe in G-d and practice your religion 100% and you are WRONG and there is no afterlife, when you die, life and consciousness will just cease and you'll never know you were wrong.

If you choose to believe in G-d and practice a religion and you are RIGHT, then you get all the spiritual benefits, you get to practice your religion and go to heaven, and you can ask (pray) for G-d's help while you're alive. The downside is then you have a duty to follow G-d's commandments.

I'd rather make the mistake of being religious. Worst case, I'm on line to get into heaven, and I and the others on line with me peep ahead to see my Creator at the pearly gates, and I someone says, "oh, sh**! It's Buddah!" :)

In all seriousness, I haven't slept tonight because I'm pulling an all-nighter for one of my law school exams. The logic above while it works for me has been rejected by Rabbis because b'kitzur (in short,) there is a problem with the mindset because the focus is on yourself and the benefits YOU get from choosing right or wrong (which is selfish) without focusing on the real purpose of being religious, namely to serve G-d in love and fear and to build a dwelling place for him in our physical world, the lowest of all worlds. [Just a bit of chassidus to cheer up your day.] ;)
On second thought, I think that now is not the time to be falling in love. Now is the time to fill my head with Torah and to prepare for married life and to keep my priorities straight.

I also have a serious undertaking to accomplish. I need to graduate law school by passing the two remaining final exams and I need to study hard to pass the bar exam or else I won't get a job and I will not be able to support her and I will be an unemployed loser and I would never respect myself if I wasn't able to hold my own financially.

All this said, I am in love.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Limiting Conversations with Callah

This is going to be a harsh topic full of controversy.

In the wedding book I am reading, "Eternal Joy, Volume 2", there is a strong suggestion that Chossons and Callahs should limit their conversations to once per week and limit seeing each other to once per week. I believe it goes with the Lubavicher Rebbe's saying that "if you are close when you should be far, you'll be far when you should be close." This [obviously speaking of physical touching before marriage will cause doubts and distance after the marriage,] can have another implication.

On the one hand, I want to be growing with her and falling deeper in love with her. On the other hand, TZNIUS! I am feeling a tension because we are speaking on the phone so regularly (multiple times a day, sometimes for hours each day) that I am starting to feel like the physical and emotional feelings I am having are stressing me out because I can't express them with her. There's obviously a tension between us in that we want to get closer on many levels, but the situation of being platonic until marriage is keeping us at a certain level which I think we cannot move past. This is my big problem with telling her I love her. I think this will make the situation even worse.

I miss her when I don't hear from her, and she misses me when she doesn't hear from me. Yet I feel this yearning is not healthy at this stage of our development because we are NOT married and we cannot express these yearnings and so they go repressed and I don't think this is healthy. I feel like we are starting to develop the kinds of feelings that people who are married would have towards one another, but we're also feeling the obvious lacking because we are physically far apart both when we see each other in person and when we speak on the phone.

I must also mention the selfish observation that I do love speaking to her, however, when I spend so much time with her on the phone, I run out of things to talk about. What is there to discuss when I have already told her everything that is going on in my life in our last conversation just a few hours or minutes beforehand? Plus, when I speak to her for as frequently as we have been speaking, I am not connecting with her fully because it takes more energy than I have to establish that special connection so many times during the day -- I feel like our conversations get ordinary when I speak to her so frequently. [Not to mention the time constraints of such conversations, and the fact that it IS starting to significantly interfere with my studies.]

With all this said, I don't want to hurt her, and I don't want her to think that I am placing my "work" [my bar studies] above my relationship with her, which should come first. However, one thing is beginning to interfere with the other.

For this reason, I am wondering how to speak to her with the goal in mind of limiting our conversations in either time or quantity. My relationship with her is very special to me. The last thing I want it to turn into during these precious few months before we are married is a casual relationship. However, with so many conversations, it is difficult to maintain the passion. Help.

PS - I haven't resolved yet when and whether to tell her that I love her. Yichud room? At/before the chuppah? Now? I don't feel it is appropriate to start with the "I love you" conversations when we barely are seeing each other before our marriage.

This is not a marriage based on love; it is a marriage that is based on G-d and Torah. We agreed to marry before we had feelings for one another. This engagement is the product of a shidduch which is based on compatibility, not love. Love is supposed to come later. I am starting to think that I've answered my question, and I am starting to think that I am no longer acting tznius with her with the frequency of our conversations. I think I need to find a way to back out of the corner and start to limit them because I think I might have put us on a path where the results of my moving too fast too soon are starting to surface. Emphatically, I do want to form a deep, loving, and permanent relationship with her with strong foundations. However, I think I accidentally pushed us into a territory which can only cause us damage in the long run. I think I feel strongly about this, and I will see what I can do to remedy this. All this "tell her you love her" talk is messing with my head.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

When should I say "I love you" to my Callah?

Dear Michal,
Your advice seems to be the exact kind of advice I would typically give to another, and it kind of made me nervous that I got that same advice from you. So as a response, I re-read what I wrote in the last blog entry to make sure I wasn't giving the wrong impression or information.
The topic of the blog entry was me noticing that along with my feelings of love for her, there are also feelings of sexuality arising between us as a result. We have spoken about this and she is feeling the same thing.

The second topic, not to be confused with the first, is that I wondered whether my thoughts have an affect on her -- first I took the analogy that thoughts can affect her soul or can affect her on a spiritual level, and then I took it further with the bus analogy wondering whether there is a physical element based on one's thoughts, meaning that I was wondering whether me thinking sexual thoughts about us halachically is actually BREAKING shomer negiah on some level. It's a stretch, and OBVIOUSLY THE HALACHA IS that one CANNOT break shomer negiah with thoughts alone, BUT, I was wondering about it from a hypothetical and philosophical point of view.

Where you made a mish-mash of everything I wrote is that you 1) came to the conclusion that I was having sex with her in my mind, and therefore 2) I was feeling it with my body and 3) therefore I was using her 4) without giving love in return because I haven't told her that I loved her. Then you moved one step further and told me that 5) if I don't tell her that I love her, because of the intensities of the first night, if she is not comfortable with me fully, then the first night might be a physically painful experience, which can have major marital consequences and can leave many emotional scars.

So let's sort things out.

I am starting to get the feeling from your comments, as well as the comments from my parents and friends that I should tell her I love her if I feel that I love her, which I do. Note: that when I originally tried to tell her that I loved her, she said, "how can you possibly have real feelings for me?? You've only known me for 8 weeks, meaning that you've only seen me around 10-12 times..."

So I waited for the right time to tell her, and since waiting, I have been wondering whether it is better to tell her now or after (or closer to) the marriage. I am getting the feeling that many of you feel that since I am feeling it, maybe I should just say it rather than holding my feelings back from her. Although I'm not sure whether it is smart to do it now or another time because I don't want to "blow my wad" professing my love for her at a time where I am absent from her presence for extended periods of time because I am literally in another city studying for my bar exam. This -- when to profess my love -- is issue #1.


Issue #2 is whether the sexual thoughts that have been popping into my head are healthy or unhealthy, and whether I should divert my attention from them.

Issue #3 is the inquiry into whether one's thoughts have physical effects, and if so, what are the reprocussions of these thoughts. Issue #3 was the title of the last blog entry.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Do my thoughts affect her soul?

It's Monday morning, and I have my exams in a few days. I am over my head in studies, but the interesting thing is that I believe that everything will work out.

I've been focusing heavily on doing everything that a Jew should do -- (praying), putting on , etc., because I believe that now that I am getting married, I need to fix whatever weaknesses I have before I stand under the with her and declare our everlasting unity.

The interesting thing is that while I am so time-pressed, I find that we spend a lot of time just being in love. My family is actually upset that I haven't yet told her that I love her, but I don't think the time is right and I don't feel it is appropriate to have "I love you" conversations before the chuppah (wedding). Nevertheless, I am convinced by the countless hours we spend just looking into eachother's eyes (it's corny, but when we're doing it, it doesn't feel corny), I am sure she is feeling my feelings for her.

The interesting thing is that as you have probably guessed, we are totally platonic until we get married, which means that my body and her body don't touch at all. This means that as many times as I've wanted to kiss her or hold her hands, I've controlled myself because we are waiting for marriage to start being physically intimate. However, I can't deny that recently, my thoughts have gotten a bit more sexual, and I find that while I am looking into her eyes, in my mind I am imagining things and I am wondering whether I am wrong for thinking these things.

But further, I wonder whether there is a difference between thinking about things, and imagining that I am doing these things "to her" / "with her" while she is sitting right next to me. Part of me says logically, as long as I don't touch her or do something here on the physical world, my thoughts don't have much of an affect [I used the word "affect" and not "effect" because I thought it was more appropriate.].

YET, I must confess that I do feel many of my thoughts as if they ARE real, meaning that when I imagine that I reach out with my arm and I touch her shoulder, in my mind ON MY HANDS -- not the hands that are sitting on my lap, but the HANDS IN MY MIND, I can actually feel what her shoulder feels like as if I was really touching her.

My psychologist has told me that me confusing my thoughts for being real is a psychosis, and it is a problem because my thoughts are thoughts and reality is real. Yet I disagree because as many of you HAVE seen on the videos I put up on the site a few months ago, you know [with a video recorder in my hand], I imagined clouds in the sky disappearing and they disappeared EXACTLY as I intended them to. In fact, in the videos, with my finger, I "circled" which clouds would disappear next, and then THAT CLOUD ONLY proceeded to vanish in front of my eyes [and your eyes too because you saw the videos.]

For reasons like this and for reasons like what happens with a , I am convinced that a person has both a physical body, and what new age mysticism calls an "." While I don't understand exactly how things work, you know that I've been experimenting with these concepts for a few years now and I've come up with some interesting observations. One observation is that my thoughts are real on some level, and I don't think it is a psychosis to think of them as such. Please don't judge me for this example -- I read it in a book once and have tried many variations of it with interesting results: As a joke, I once was sitting on a bus, and I wanted to get the person (guy or girl) a few seats in front of me to turn around abruptly. So I imagined [note that I didn't move a muscle -- this was all in my thoughts] -- I imagined that I came up behind them and I licked their earlobe. You would be surprised how many people on this exercise alone have jumped and turned around abruptly to find that nobody was behind them. Hehe. I've also in my mind said "turn around" and many -- not all -- have responded by turning around and smiling. From all this, I am convinced that thoughts are not just thoughts and therefore, I understand why Jewish law says "control your thoughts" because while on one level, indulging in your sexual thoughts might lead to either masteurbation or actual forbidden sexual activity with the other out of wedlock [great word], however, I am convinced that there is something deeper and more tangible to our physical world with regard to thoughts being real things.

I read a while ago in a Kabbalistic text that a Jew should be careful with whom he fantasizes about, because through his activities he not only spills his seed and makes his own soul impure, but rather, he also makes the person's soul with whom he was fantasizing about impure as well. In my eyes, this is why I believe Rava the great sage [and I'm sure you more educated Jews will correct me on this, and non-Jews, bear with me for this story because the way I am saying it makes this guy look like a pervert when what he was doing was a holy thing] would stand by the woman's bath house, so that when the women would come out, they would see his face and his long beard, and then when the woman and her husband were cohabiting, she would think of Rava's face and she would as a result have holy children. I MUST SAY HERE FROM THE SHOCK AND HORROR ON YOUR FACES THAT I TOTALLY KNOW I MESSED UP THIS STORY AND NOT ONLY DID I PROBABLY TELL IT WRONG WITH THE WRONG CHARACTER, BUT I MIGHT HAVE TOTALLY MISSED THE POINT. However, my point is that in line with what I read a while ago, I am of the suspicion that when one thinks sexual thoughts about another, such as I have been doing recently, my thoughts not only affect my soul, but they affect her soul as well. Therefore, I am thinking that I need to be more careful with the content of the lascivious thoughts that have recently crept into my mind.

With all that said, I am enjoying our engagement and I cannot wait to get married. I feel that all the blogging I did over the past 398 blog entries have really helped me sort out a whole bunch of things that were on my mind.

Lastly, I hope you don't mind me not giving details about my callah (the woman I am engaged to) or stories about us, how we got together, or the things we are going through because I am convinced that she is one of you, however she hasn't made the connection yet that Zoe is me and vice versa, and when she talks about people she reads about on the internet, especially "that Zoe character from Colorado," she doesn't realize that Colorado is a small piece of misinformation intended as a distractor, and that "Zoe" is really sitting right across from her, drowning in her eyes and falling more and more in love every moment we spend together. For that reason, I have been finding it difficult to blog because I don't quite feel that the blog is that private or anonymous anymore. So until I sort this one out in my head, allow me to apologize for my lack of writing. I don't exactly know how to handle this one.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

I'm engaged. Finals are coming up in a few days. Patent law exam coming up in the near future after the bar exam. Lots going on. I'll post very soon -- maybe if I can, I'll post tonight. -Zoe

Friday, March 31, 2006

M.C. Escher-type blog entry.

On second thought, it just occurred to me that there is a chance that she DOES know I am Zoe Strickman. I was just reading through my old posts, and I couldn't help to recognize hearing her words when I was reading mine. What does this mean? She was quoting me -- my words from this blog -- in our conversations and I did not even realize it. Perhaps she was testing me to see whether I would recognize that she found my blog. She also recently has guessed things about me out of the blue and I was taken aback by her keen observations.

Nevertheless, I cannot be sure of this and since she has been respectful enough not to undress me by telling me she knows about my blog, and since she has been respectful enough to keep my unspoken thoughts out of our conversations, I respect her for keeping my secrets safe. Between you and me, one more secret is that I love you.

I have been testing the waters whether to use the "L" word in our conversations. Between you and me, I have begun to feel it and I think of you all the time. Yet injecting yiddishkeit into this blog entry, we are not yet even engaged and we are still shidduch dating. I don't want to blow things out of the water by going too far too fast. Step by step.

One thing that I do take comfort in is the congruence between the Zoe Strickman character that I have created here in the internet world and my real identity. When I started this blog over a year ago, I felt that there were parts of me which I couldn't talk about in public. There were also viewpoints about yiddishkeit and my learning disabilities that embarassed me, among other things I dealt with over the past year. When I started blogging, there was my blog identity -- and then there was my public identity -- two separate people. I always thought that the Zoe character was more me than the me I was in real life. But thankfully over the past few months, I feel that "Zoe" and "I" have come together and now we are the same person both on the internet and in real life.

Interestingly enough, my friends have even noticed the difference. One close friend commented last week that they were impressed how I've changed over the past few years and how I've become more relaxed and more confident. Interestingly enough, against my desires, my closest friends have not yet found this blog because they stopped looking for it after I put my old blog back up with my real information on it. Four of you have actually found it.

Nevertheless, the most interesting point of my life which has experienced growth is my understanding of my anger towards my father. Today, my mother and I had a conversation about him and she was defending him saying that despite his faults, he is still a good person with a good heart. I sharply interrupted her and said, "NONSENSE. WE ALL KNOW WHAT HE DID WHEN YOU AND HIM GOT DIVORCED." In all senses of the word -- even from a legal definition -- my father was (and still IS) a . I'm not sure if I ever blogged about this. While I knew about this during my youth, namely that he hid his income so that he could avoid paying child support, it was only a hunch which was confirmed a few months ago when my dad asked me for legal advice to sue his employer for withholding money from his paycheck that he owed to him over the years. His boss recently paid him $20,000 cash, and an additional $30,000 of money that was owed to him. When I asked him where this money was coming from, he slipped and said, "this is the money that was left over from the child support..." then when he realized what he said, he stopped mid-sentence. I made sure to stay cool and calm, but we both realized what he said.

I won't go too deep into this, but in short, my father didn't pay his child support when my parents got divorced. Further, he hid his income and lied to the judge about his employment status claiming he was unemployed when he was working off of the books. The judge believed him and awarded child support of $25 each week to me, and he didn't even pay that. My mom worked many jobs just to keep us going. Again, this is a painful subject for me, but bottom line, over the year I have come to understand my anger towards my father. Keep in mind that my anger is not limited to what he did when I was a child. We won't even talk about the beatings or the neglect that we all experienced at his hands when we were younger. We won't even talk about the mental problems he has always had but won't admit to. We won't even talk about the current condition of the home that I agreed to live in to save money while in law school. We won't talk about the lack of furniture in our house, and we won't talk about the mess that I tolerate every day even though it saps my energy and I pray every day to get out of here. We also won't talk about the many promises he has made both financially and otherwise (in accordance with I took action and was on many cases left hanging) that have not and never will be kept. Don't get me started.

My point is that I feel that I have come a long way since I started writing this blog. You have all helped me so much by giving me feedback, calling me on my often stupid conclusions, and by supporting me when I was down. Although I will never be able to thank you the way I would like to, you all have my gratitude for being here with me while all these things have been occuring.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Identity Breach

I wish I could tell you everything that is going on in my life, especially with the shidduch dating (B"H I'm still with the same girl), however as fate would have it, she is one of YOU. Being anonymous and using a fake name really doesn't help me when my stories are a dead giveaway as to who I am.

I realized that she is one of my readers on this blog because out of the blue, she turned to me and asked me, "how do you feel about homosexuality?" When I explained my thoughts about it, she told me that she read that same opinion almost verbatum on a web site discussing Brokeback Mountain. I couldn't think of anything else to say except "me too," with a half grin. She didn't pursue the topic further.

Nevertheless, I hoped this blog could be a sounding board for objective ideas and it has been, however I've put enough personal information on this blog that people have started to figure out who I am. The Jewish world is a small world, and it seems as if everyone knows everybody, somehow.

Zoe Strickman and the real me are not different people. The icon isn't me, it's a photoshop work-up to make Neo from the Matrix look more Chassidic. Although stand me and the character side by side, and you couldn't tell who was who except that I have a full beard.

Otherwise, things are okay. I'll write more details in the next blog entry.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Patent Bar Exam Imminent

I am faced with the troubling reality that law school is coming to an end and I do not yet have a job. Knowing that patent law is the field I would like to go into, I have resolved to come home to New York after graduation to find a job in the city rather than to work in Colorado in some other field. I have applied to over fifty law firms in the New York Metropolitan area, and I have received over forty rejection letters and not one phone call inviting me to an interview.

"Thank you for applying to our firm. While your credentials are quite impressive, we are sorry to say that we are not hiring at this time. We wish you luck in your legal career."

I am starting to get nervous, especially because my school, my grades, and my activities are not of the top 20% as most of the law firms are looking for. As you know, I've braved through law school doing my best, and I have no thought that I could have done better. I am very proud of my achievements, but the goal of all this work was to get a job and this has not yet happened.

I spoke to an advisor from PLI (Practicing Law Institute) today and he told me that in order to get a job, especially since I am a "category B" patent applicant [meaning that I do not have a technical degree in a specific subject, but that I have pieced together my 40 credits of technical subject matter sufficient to take the exam], that my job search will require some crafty maneuvering. Further, he said that it is almost mandatory that I take my patent bar exam before I graduate which is in less than 24 weeks.

Regular review for the New York and New Jersey Bar Exam begins in the middle of May. Can I piece together enough time to successfully study and pass the patent bar exam? I don't know if this is humanly possible, but it looks like this is the path I need to take if I am to get a job by the time I graduate.

I don't know if I am physically capable of completing this task. I am in many ways a go-getter and a risk-taker, but I know my limits. This is above and beyond my capabilities, and my main focus is studying for the regular bar exam. I need guidance whether or not to take the plunge and once again go over my abilities to accomplish a feat that is highly improbable. I've done this kind of undertaking before and I've met with success. I just don't know if I can do it in such a short amount of time.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Homosexuality and Masteurbation -- a continuation of the Brokeback Mountain conversation.

[The post on Brokeback Mountain has created such a response that I felt that it was important to respond to everyone's comments here.]

I do want to stress that because Torah forbids male homosexual relations, a practicing homosexual damages his own Jewish soul and the Jewish soul of his male partner. However, according to all opinions, he is still a Jew and must be respected as one.

I commend any homosexual Jew that continues to practice Judaism and observe the Mitzvot (commandments) in spite of his "genetic" [in my opinion, "preferential"] disposition in that he is attracted to men instead of women. However, this is not the end-all-be-all of his Jewishness.

There are many of us who have difficulties with various halachot (for example, I have difficulty davening and putting on tefillin in the mornings -- among other things, this is my struggle). Let's get a bit more personal and bring up the masteurbation topic, since it is on the topic of sexuality. Masteurbation is a very bad bad bad thing to do. Torah forbids it. However, G-d gave me a very strong sexual drive and so I am tempted by my natural desire to masteurbate.

However, I don't throw my hands up in the air and give up the fight and call myself a masteurbator, nor do I seek to justify myself in my activities and convince society that it is okay to be a wanker. Every day is a struggle. Most days I win the struggle, but sometimes I lose and I give in to the desire. This doesn't make it right or moral and because I have been "genetically" given this desire DOES NOT MAKE IT OKAY for me to act upon it.

Masteurbation and even moreso, sleeping around (see Tanya, Chapter 7) are grave sins that cause a lot of impurity to come to the world. The Torah prohibits sexual immorality in the form of pre-marital sex, masteurbation, adultry, incest, and homosexuality, among other sexual immoral practices. Homosexuals, you are not alone -- all of these activities are forbidden.

Consequently, because they carry so much unholiness, Chassidus will teach you that they also become an unbearable desire for most of us. Sex has its source in holiness -- "be fruitful and multiply" -- and as such, it gets twisted by the non-Godly forces into unholy desires that we experience every day. This is true also with animal sacrifices. Sacrificing an animal to G-d [when done in the Beis Hamigdash and in the proper time and in the proper way] is one of the holiest acts a Jew can take part in. However, have you ever noticed what the most demonic black magic cults do as their ultimate unholy activity? Animal sacrifices.

I kid you not, in our world we're tempted by the lowest, dirtiest, and most unholy activities that do the most damage to our physical, psychological, and spiritual bodies. Masteurbation, adultry, and consequently homosexuality are no different.

Let's be straight [no pun] with what we are dealing with. Sexual impropriety (adultry, masteurbation, homosexuality, incest, and pre-marital sex is a taiva (a desire) -- Godly endowed upon us through either our genetics or through our choices -- upon which we can act upon these desires or we can choose to abstain from them, even momentarily.

Sometimes the desire can become unbearable, and I understand this. However, do what you must, but don't make excuses why it is okay to engage in these activities. They are forbidden, end of story. However, we do what we can, and nobody is free of sin. We each will have to answer for our actions, and this applies to both homosexuals and heterosexuals. We are Jews, and are commanded to be sexually moral. These rules have been laid out for us by the Torah.

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Sunday, February 26, 2006

National Geographic Video on Lubavichers

I was very impressed by the video about Lubavichers by National Geographic Magazine. It was a quality video, and funny enough, I recognized many families in the video that I know and am close with.

You can find the video here:

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Society's Preoccupation with Homosexuality and Brokeback Mountain

First of all, I credit the "My Urban Kvetch" blog for linking me to this video. The link is here or here:

I don't get it what today's society's preoccupation is with gay people and gay relationships. I have had close male to male relationships which were friendships, not sexual relationships in any way. I've slept in bed with men, hugged men, hung out with men, but I've never even considered anything close to a sexual relationship with them.

I used to have a girlfriend who wanted me to go to a gay bar and to hook up with a man in front of her just so she can see the experience of two men kissing. I never did it, nor did I ever consider it.

In law school, our Jewish association wanted to have a gay rights presentation. I told them it was not appropriate from a Jewish perspective. When they challenged me about my anti-gay mentality, I told them that Judaism was about promoting sexual morality [through Taharas HaMishpacha (family purity laws), Niddah, and laws of sexual relations (just to name a few)], and just as a man is not allowed to be sleeping around with women and having sexual thoughts about women, so too men are not allowed to be sleeping around with men and having sexual thoughts about men. They are both forbidden by the Torah. Further, it's the same desire, and Judaism in both cases says "control yourself."

My friend came back to me and said, "But at one point it becomes moral for a woman and a man to be together sexually; for men and men it will always be forbidden," to which I retorted crudely that both men and women have very similar anatomies. Homosexuality is a preference of one over the other.

Forgive me for quoting the Lubavicher Rebbe in the same blog entry as my comment in the above paragraph, but he stated it the best that when it comes to homosexuality, nothing comes of it. It is simply not useful.

Just as in so many things in Torah, from a homosexual's point of view, this is simply not fair. However, to a pork lover, kashrut laws are not fair. To a man who desires to be with many women, the laws of monogamy and marriage are not fair. Torah calmly tells us what is right and what is wrong. The message regarding homosexuality among many other things is simply "control yourself." Argue if you must.

However, from a shallow point of view, I thought the video clip was very amusing. It captures the best scenes which really bring out the relationship between Doc Brown and Marty McFly in the Back to the Future movies [which happen to be my favorite movies of all time]. I commend the person who took the time to make such a spoof on the Brokeback movie.

By the way, I refuse to go see such a movie. It's a waste of time and promoting homosexuality for Jews is against Torah which would make this movie a treife movie for me. As for non-Jews, enjoy the movie. I don't think the homosexuality rules apply to you, although many religions have taken them on voluntarily. I need not mention priests and little boys. That's a problem of its own. The problem there is not the homosexuality, it is the abuse of a child. Not my fight.

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Thursday, February 23, 2006

Chemistry and Attraction between couples on a shiduch date.

I've had a few posts and a few e-mails these past few days telling me that I am boring. Yet these people continue to read my blog and continue to explain to me that the reason I am boring is because I express my frustrations and my insecurities in a "poor me" fashion. In their defense they are right and I am working on this.

I can't believe I am still dating this girl! Date after date, discussion after discussion, and for some reason she continues to enjoy my company and still wants to continue dating.

On the last date I could tell that we were both exhausted from our respective daily routines and our workloads, so we went into a bar, found a couch, and just chilled out. We spent hours talking about absolutely nothing without any direction or purpose to our conversations. Yet I feel like I got to know her, and I felt like I shared a part of myself. This is a big and important goal of mine in this stage of our dating. I find that I am telling (confessing) to her my weaknesses in a subtle way and I am watching to see if she runs for the hills. Surprisingly, she is still here and at the end of our last date she told me that she would like to continue.

Chemistry is another topic I've found to be of interest. I told my rabbi that while I find her to be very attractive, I haven't allowed myset to get sexually aroused on our dates. I told him that I feel that the kind of arousal that a man gets when he first meets a woman in that he wants to immediately be intimate with her -- that infatuation passed a long time ago and I was concerned that there might be a problem why I am not getting aroused on our dates. He told me that the mentality I have is a proper one, in that before I allow myself to get sexually aroused or even before I start thinking of sexual activities with the girl, I want to make sure that we we have a future together. He told me that my thinking is smart because the focus of our dates is to determine if we can make a home together, not to land her in bed for a one-night stand.

Please don't get me wrong here -- I find her to be very attractive. In fact, there have been many moments when I have wanted to kiss her. There have been many times where I have wanted to reach out and hold her hand. I am also guilty of the "I hate to see you go, but I love to watch you leave" thing that men sometimes do, and I have also caught myself looking at her legs when we are on a date and then I force myself to look away before she noticed that I was looking at her. So if this is chemistry and if she experiences similar things, then we do have chemistry together. However, there is nothing that can come out of it since we are both fully platonic (shomer negiah) until after the marriage. We are careful not to even bump into each other casually, and if we do we apologize to each other. This is not specifically our thing, but this is the way that orthodox men and women interact with each other when it comes to touching the other sex before marriage.

On a final note -- and this has taken me a good few minutes to gather the courage to write about this -- my rabbi made the comment that "you could continue going out like this forever." I knew exactly what he was talking about, and in my heart I knew that I agreed with him. He was talking about engagement. We have been seeing each other for some time now, and we have spent a considerable amount of time together. There isn't that much more that I want to know about her -- er, that I NEED to know about her -- to make my decision whether or not she and I would make a good match for marriage. We get along well together. We have chemistry together. Our beliefs about family and life are very similar. I cannot see a reason why we shouldn't or wouldn't move forward to an engagement. My one reservation is that I am afraid of neglecting her during the few months from May until July when I will be studying for the bar exam. This would be tough. Otherwise, I fear to admit it, but I really like her and I think the combination of me and her would work in a marriage. This is very scary.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Oops... I just spent my evening blogging.

Love Letter -- Part II

Dear ----,

I am beginning to grow fond of you. I find that much of the time we spend apart is spent thinking of you. I am excited to have been set up with you, and a calm happiness has settled into my heart making me think that maybe we have what it takes to spend the rest of our lives together.

I realized that my pushing to get to know you may have made things feel a bit unnatural, and I ask for your forgiveness for my naivete. Sometimes for me I get into the habit of being the conqueror -- I get it from law school where every topic must be braved and overcome as if it is a formidable enemy -- and I make the mistake by thinking that people too and relationships too have to be nudged and prodded for things to move forward. I forget that the natural way is G-d's way, and things go by His agenda and not mine.

As of late, I've been open and vulnerable, hoping that if you saw the real me you wouldn't reject me, and if you would, it would happen as quickly and as painlessly as possible -- but to my surprise every day, you're still here! You are still by my side asking me questions and opening up to me and telling me your secrets... not your deepest secrets, those are private [and in reality are not secrets, but are topics of your past that don't influence us or benefit either of us from talking about it]. We've all done things that hindsight we probably would not have done again had we known the consequences of our actions, but we were doing the best we could with the life knowledge we were given at the time. (Why do I get the feeling I am actually talking about myself??) You've alluded to some of your secrets and I've alluded to some of mine, and I understand now that some things are better off unspoken because they are simply not appropriate (not tznius) for two people to talk about while we are still in the courting phase.

Yet in hindsight, I have learned that you are more like me and I am more like you than I thought we were. Our respective levels of yiddishkeit, and our personality strengths and weaknesses are very similar. You've also alluded that your past is not that much different than mine, meaning that you've had a college experience and you've been the rebel during various times of your life. This side of you -- your "dark" side -- makes you much more interesting to me because it shows me that you are a real person with strengths and flaws, both of which I can admire and I can love.

When you originally weren't talking about your past and your family, I thought the worst, because what is not said can sometimes be more loud than what is said, and being the lawyer with the lawyer's trained mind [we do have a pattern of thinking which is taught to us in law school] we know to be prepared for the worst. With us, what hides behind closed doors are not skeletons, but jumping monsters with teeth and venom.

So how am I feeling now? Content; excited; balanced -- I am not expecting anything from you and I know that things can go wrong at any moment and I am prepared for that. I do acknowledge that it feels like we are nearing the end of our shidduch dating phase and we have crossed over into the "getting to know eachother" phase where we are starting to partake in activities and where we are starting to develop feelings for each other. But what can happen is that you or I could wake up one day soon and call the whole thing off. This scares me deeply and so I tread lightly, prepared that any day the hold you are starting to have in me may become a stab. <-- Can you see my insecurity?? I laugh at it too how it comes out of nowhere. I'll work on staying positive and hopeful.

I suppose what I am trying to say is that I am having a wonderful time with you, and I am hopeful that we might continue and soon move to an engagement, a marriage, and finally to building a family together. I am starting to think that together, we have the right stuff to make it happen.