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Volume 22, No. 6, #158 - click here

 Publisher's Letter:
     Publisher's Message
 Let's Shmooze:
     Let's Shmooze
 Cover Story:
     A Taste of Benny Friedman
     The Folded Napkin
     Especially For You, Daddy
     An Old Woman and a Taxi Driver
 Sound Off:
     My Rant on Shidduchim
     To Save a Life
     Happiness Really Makes a Difference
     I'm Allergic to Fighting
     An Easy Way to Have Kavana
     Off the Wall
Article Map for this issue
December 2009 • Kislev 5770 Volume 22, No. 6, #158
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I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream For…

Dear Country Yossi,

In honor of the 44th President of the United States, Baskin-Robbins Ice Cream has introduced a new flavor: “Barocky Road.” Barocky Road is a blend of half vanilla, half chocolate, and surrounded by nuts and flakes. The vanilla portion of the mix is not openly advertised and usually denied as an ingredient. The nuts and flakes are all very bitter and hard to swallow. The cost is $100.00 per scoop.

When purchased, it will be presented to you in a large, beautiful cone. But then the ice cream is taken away and given to the person in line behind you. You are left with an empty wallet and no change, holding an empty cone with no hope of getting any ice cream.

Are you stimulated?


Gourmet Getaway

Dear Country Yossi,

I asked my wife, ‘Where do you want to go for our anniversary?’

It warmed my heart to see her face melt in sweet appreciation. ‘Somewhere I haven’t been in a long time!’ she said.

So I suggested, ‘How about the kitchen?’



Dear Country Yossi,

On page 97 of your last issue, you listed four carpet stores that “have distinguished themselves with excellent service?” So which of them is the best store?

Received via email

Dear B.L.,
They’re all great!
You have also distinguished yourself - but I’d rather not say as what!

Up, Up and Away

Dear Country Yossi,

Why is it that we all try to cheer everybody UP?

Wake up! Get up! Stand up! Sit up! Hands up! Heads up! 7up! Ketchup! Back up! Walk up! Hurry up! Pick up!

And we still feel down.

Big Mo

Dear Big Mo,
You crack me up!

Step On It!

Dear Country Yossi,

My wife was hinting about what she wanted for our upcoming anniversary.

She said, ‘I want something shiny that goes from 0 to 200 in about 3 seconds.’

What could she be referring to?

5 Towns

Dear R.Y.,
I have no idea! Just buy her a scale!

Quick Jewish Quote from Rabbi Menachem Ziemba

Dear Country Yossi,

Rabbi Menachem Ziemba taught:

Not only when one is forced to choose between Torah and death is there Kiddush Hashem, (glorifying the Name of G-d), but also each and every moment that a Jew overcomes adversity, he thereby glorifies the name of Hashem.

Rabbi Menachem Ziemba lived from 1883 to 1943. He was the spiritual leader of the Warsaw Ghetto.

Received via email

Who Will Enforce It?

Dear Country Yossi,

The article written on “Solution to the Shidduch Crisis” was a nice article to open up people’s eyes. However, the ideas presented cannot be enforced because there is no one in control to enforce them. Also, many people follow the psak of Shulchan Oruch, which states that if one wants to learn, he can delay marriage until after twenty years old. It is more advisable to force girls not to date before age 21. No shadchan should be allowed to ‘red’ a girl a shidduch under twenty one years old. Also, the girl’s parents will be happy since the girl will be making her own money and the financial burden will be lifted off her father’s head. To enforce this, no mesader kedushin should be mesader if a girl started to date before age 21. Then the boy must be forced to start at age 21 as well! It is understood that no girl will wait until 21, unless she knows that all other girls will wait until the same age. So who will enforce all this?

Rav Shmuel Birnbaum zt’l had such a meeting with all the Roshei Hayeshivos, but he couldn’t enforce anything. So it seems like we’re stuck with this dilemma.

Boro Park

Mulling Over Motherhood

Dear Country Yossi,

This letter is in regard to the Dear Bubby column in the November 09 issue. The answer given to “stay-at-home-mom” needs to address certain key issues:

1. Parnassa is decreed on Rosh Hashana.

2. A married man is obligated to support his family.

3. A woman can help her husband bring in parnassa. Her help can take off some of the husband’s pressure, or even physical work. When a married woman works she is taking some parnassa pressure/work/headache/etc. off her husband. She is not adding to the predetermined Rosh Hashana amount. (Although to our eyes the numbers on paper may seem like more income, one never can calculate surprise expenses, sale items, items lasting longer, and so much more.) Simply put; a married working woman is aiding her husband, but not increasing his income.

There is still another point to consider: The work the woman does is an opportunity for chessed. The zechus of this chessed can be rewarded in this world as increased financial income (among other brachos) but keep in mind the following two points:

1. Your chessed (work) can not be done on your children’s cheshbon, they too are your opportunity for doing chessed.

2. Would you do this job without pay? If the answer is yes, you are thereby using it as an opportunity for chessed, relying on Hashem that the zechus of this work/chessed will be rewarded also in this world through your husband’s increased income.

I am grateful for all the positions women fill: teachers, nurses, storekeepers, etc… but until your children are adults, your job is at home.

Raizel Rosenberg

P.S. There may be women who will disregard the validity of the above points. I therefore add - each year, before you commit yourself to helping provide income, ask a shayla if this is what you are supposed to be doing now.

Are They Ready?

Dear Country Yossi,

After a mere few months of Drivers Ed, newly licensed teen drivers are sitting behind a potentially dangerous vehicle. But the question is, are they really ready? Teens who have just received their license should not be permitted to drive without parental supervision. Parents these days seem to hand over the keys from day one. Then, their teens face the roads at night with their friends. Parents should be aware that in a typical year six thousand teens die in car crashes; that’s an average of sixteen per day. It’s more likely that your teen will be in a collision if she is distracted by friends in the car, texting, or talking on the phone.

A teen in my neighborhood recently passed her road test. A week after she received her license, she was granted permission to go out wherever she desired. She picked up her five friends and started driving to camp friends in New Jersey. The five girls in the car were beginning to act wild and foolish. One of the girls who was unusually wild, carelessly leaned heavily against the driver’s seat, which pushed the driver’s hand into the steering wheel and forced her to turn left. Thankfully, they were in the left lane. Shockingly, the car smashed into the wall causing everyone to fly forward. Glass shattered and piercing screams of the girls were heard. They were all taken to the hospital. Thank G-d, no one was seriously injured. As a result, all the parents of these girls were highly disappointed and realized what could happen when you let teens drive without parental supervision. I believe that if the parents of the teens would have been more cautious about allowing their daughters to go alone with friends, this accident could have been prevented. Although there may be some positive aspects of teens driving, the negatives definitely outweigh the positives.

In order to prevent all these terrible accidents from occurring, recent amendments to New York’s graduated driver licensing program add new statewide restrictions to keep drivers safe. Teen drivers holding learners permits or junior licenses must now comply with these additional laws. Before a teen can take a road test, he or she must complete fifty hours of supervised driving with a parent or guardian (increased from twenty hours). Fifteen of those hours need to be after sunset; so they can learn how to drive at night. Teen drivers can only have one non-family passenger under the age of twenty one in the car if no adults are present. The use of portable devices is prohibited while the vehicle is in motion. The new law also bans drivers of all ages from sending text messages or email messages while driving. I highly agree with these amendments because this can prevent a lot of accidents from occurring. I also recommend that you should apply these restrictions while you’re on the road for your own safety and benefit.

We can’t afford to wait any longer. So if your teen just became a new driver, be smart and safe in order to decrease the amount of teen crashes and supervise your new teen driver while he/she is on the road.

Elisheva Soffer

The Verdict: Hang Up

Dear Country Yossi,

I want to warn your readers: Don’t fall for this jury duty scam!

The phone rings, you pick it up, and the caller identifies himself as an officer of the court. He says you failed to report for jury duty and that a warrant is out for your arrest. You say you never received a notice. To clear it up, the caller says he’ll need some information for “verification purposes” - your birth date, social security number, maybe even a credit card number.

This is when you should hang up the phone. It’s a scam.

Jury scams have been around for years, but have seen a resurgence in recent months. Communities in more than a dozen states have issued public warnings about cold calls from people claiming to be court officials seeking personal information. As a rule, court officers never ask for confidential information over the phone; they generally correspond with prospective jurors via mail.

The scam’s bold simplicity may be what makes it so effective. Facing the unexpected threat of arrest, victims are caught off guard and may be quick to part with some information to defuse the situation.

“They get you scared first,” says a special agent in the Minneapolis field office who has heard the complaints. “They get people saying, ‘Oh my gosh! I’m not a criminal. What’s going on?’” That’s when the scammer dangles a solution - a fine, payable by credit card, that will clear up the problem.

With enough information, scammers can assume your identity and empty your bank accounts.

“It seems like a very simple scam,” the agent adds. The trick is putting people on the defensive, then reeling them back in with the promise of a clean slate. “It’s kind of ingenious. It’s social engineering.”

In recent months, communities in Florida, New York, Minnesota, Illinois, Colorado, Oregon, California, Virginia, Oklahoma, Arizona, and New Hampshire reported scams or posted warnings or press releases on their local websites. In August, the federal court system issued a warning on the scam and urged people to call their local District Court office if they receive suspicious calls. In September, the FBI issued a press release about jury scams and suggested victims also contact their local FBI field office.

In March, USA.gov, the federal government’s information website, posted details about jury scams in their Frequently Asked Questions area. The site reported scores of queries on the subject from website visitors and callers seeking information.

The jury scam is a simple variation of the identity-theft ploys that have proliferated in recent years as personal information and good credit have become thieves’ preferred prey, particularly on the Internet. Scammers might tap your information to make a purchase on your credit card, but could just as easily sell your information to the highest bidder on the Internet’s black market.

Protecting yourself is the key: Never give out personal information when you receive an unsolicited phone call.

Received via email

The Original Computer

Dear Country Yossi,

It used to be, memory was something you lost with age. An application was for employment. A program was a schedule. A cursor used profanity. A keyboard was a piano. A web was a spider’s home. A virus was the flu. A CD was a bank account. A hard drive was a long trip on the road. A mouse pad was where a mouse lived. Remember those days?

Boro Park

Dear P.G.,
Sure. I also remember when “Google” was a huge number, “Yahoo” was something you shouted after the last day of school, and “Windows” were things you opened to get some fresh air.

Chairman and the Jews

Dear Country Yossi,

You all probably already know this but it still is quite an interesting story. Only in America.

The South Bronx in 1950 was the home of a large and thriving community, predominantly Jewish. In the 1950s the Bronx offered synagogues, mikvas, kosher bakeries, and kosher butchers - all the comforts one would expect from an observant Orthodox Jewish community.

The baby boom of the postwar years happily resulted in many new young parents. As a matter of course, the South Bronx had its own baby equipment store, Sickser’s.
Sickser’s was located on the corner of Westchester and Fox, and specialized in “everything for the baby,” as its slogan ran. The inventory began with cribs, baby carriages, playpens, high chairs, changing tables, and toys. It went way beyond these to everything a baby could want or need. Mr. Sickser, assisted by his son-in-law Lou Kirshner, ran a profitable business out of the needs of the rapidly expanding child population.

The language of the store was primarily Yiddish, but Sickser’s was a place where not only Jewish families but also many non-Jewish ones could acquire the necessary for their newly arrived bundles of joy. Business was particularly busy one spring day; so much so that Mr. Sickser and his son-in-law could not handle the unexpected throng of customers. Desperate for help, Mr. Sickser ran out of the store and stopped the first youth he spotted on the street. “Young man,” he panted, “how would you like to make a little extra money? I need some help in the store. You want to work a little?”

The tall, lanky black boy flashed a toothy smile back. “Yes, sir, I’d like some work.” “Well then, let’s get started.”

The boy followed his new employer into the store. Mr. Sickser was immediately impressed with the boy’s good manners and demeanor. As the days went by and he came again and again to lend his help, Mr.Sickser and Lou both became increasingly impressed with the youth’s diligence, punctuality, and readiness to learn. Eventually Mr. Sickser made him a regular employee at the store. It was gratifying to find an employee with an almost soldier-like willingness to perform even the most menial of tasks, and to perform them well.

From the age of thirteen until his sophomore year in college, this young man put in from twelve to fifteen hours a week, at 50 to 75 cents an hour. Mostly, he performed general labor: assembling merchandise, unloading trucks and preparing items for shipments. He seemed, in his quiet way, to appreciate not only the steady employment but also the friendly atmosphere Mr. Sickser’s store offered.

Mr. Sickser and Lou learned in time about their helper’s Jamaican origins, and he in turn picked up a good deal of Yiddish. In time the young man was able to converse fairly well with his employers, and more importantly, with a number of the Jewish customers whose English was not fluent. At the age of seventeen, the young man, while still working part-time at Sickser’s, began his first semester at City College of New York. He fit in just fine with his, for the most part Jewish, classmates; hardly surprising, considering that he already knew their ways and their language.

But the heavy studying in the engineering and, later, geology courses he chose proved quite challenging. The young man would later recall that Sickser’s offered the one stable point in his life those days.

In 1993, in his position as the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, two years after he guided the American victory over Iraq in the Gulf War, General Colin Powell visited the Holy Land. Upon meeting Israel’s Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir in Jerusalem, he greeted the Israeli with the words “Men ken reden Yiddish” (We can speak Yiddish).

As Shamir, stunned, tried to pull himself together, the then-current Secretary of State continued chatting in his second-favorite language. Colin Powell never forgot his early days working at Sickser’s.

Received via email

Swimming to Salvation

Dear Country Yossi,

This a true story told over by HaRav Fishel Schachter.

There was a chareidi family that took a vacation to Teveria. The wife and 2 daughters went down to the Kineret to go swimming. The husband went to daven by Reb Meir Baal HaNess. The girls started to wade in the water. The older daughter went too far in and was swept into a current, but she couldn’t swim. She began to go under. The mother watched as her daughter pleaded for her life, but the mother couldn’t swim either. She ran onto the highway, desperately trying to flag down cars for help. They swerved around her, honking at her, screaming at her to get out of the road.

Finally an elegant car stopped, and a well-dressed man asked what was happening.

The mother screamed, “My daughter is drowning!” He threw off his coat and ran, diving into the water. The driver’s wife was screaming at him, saying, “Remember you just had a heart attack!”

He dived into the water and came up with the little girl. The mother breathed a sigh of relief for a moment, until she realized that this was the younger daughter who must have jumped in to save the older daughter. She shouted, “I have another daughter there!”

He jumped back in and yelled, “Where is she? Where is she?” The mother pointed frantically, “Over there, over there!” He dived to the bottom and began to drag her limp body to the shore. But by then there were people on the shore, and they were screaming, “Her head is still in the water! Her head is still in the water! Lift it out!” He lifted her head and put it on his shoulder and brought her ashore. There was an Arab man on the beach who started doing CPR on the girl. They called the ambulance and the ambulance crew said they took a pulse, but her head was in the water too long, there was nothing they could do. They went off to the hospital, and the doctors said there was no hope. The family began davening for a miracle. They were waiting and waiting, davening. The doctor took an MRI, and when he saw the results, he ran back in and said, “I can’t believe it. Regular brain activity resumed.”

The daughter finally woke up and left the hospital two days later. The doctors said they never saw anything like it. She’d been deprived of oxygen for so long, the situation was impossible.

A few days later, the family made a seudas hod’ah (meal of thanks) to thank Hashem for the miracle. They wanted to invite the man who’d jumped into the water to save their daughter. They couldn’t find him, so they thought maybe he called in to the hospital to see how she was, and they were right. They found him.

He was an attorney from a non-observant kibbutz, with no connection to Yiddishkeit his whole life. They invited him to the seudah and he told them this story. He was recovering from a heart attack before this incident, and he and his wife were headed up North for a vacation, when he saw this chareidi woman in the street. His wife said “Keep driving, she’s a meshuganah,” but he thought she looked desperate, so he decided to help. He continued telling the family that he had been sick for awhile. He used to be an Olympic swimmer, but hadn’t swam in YEARS. Then, just last week, as part of his therapy for the heart attack, he was in a hotel that had a pool, and he started to swim laps during the week. His wife yelled at him that it was dangerous, and he told her that for some reason, he felt that he had to do this. He felt that he just loved it. He told them that if he hadn’t done those laps he wouldn’t have been in shape enough to rescue their daughters. “So I jumped in and saved your first daughter, but then you told me there’s another daughter. I went back in, and as I was pulling your 2nd daughter to shore, I realized that I didn’t bring her head above the water. I was going out of my mind.” Afterwards, I came home and cried to my wife, “I killed that girl.” My wife said, “What are you talking about, you saved her, you risked your life!” “But I’m so stupid, I didn’t take her head out of the water. She died because of my stupidity.” I insisted, “It was my fault, she would have lived!” I felt so guilty that I ran back to the place where I had dived in, and climbed to the top of a mountain. I said, “Ribbono Shel Olam, never in my life did I pray to You. I was raised on a kibbutz, and laughed at prayer. I wouldn’t be caught dead praying. I would have been so embarrassed. G-d, this is the first time in my life I’m praying to You. I’ll never be able to live this down. I won’t be able to go on. PLEASE, Hashem, consider it as if I prayed to You my whole life, and combine all those prayers that I could have said, and use them to save this girl.” He continued to tell the family, “I went back home and called the hospital, and they told me that an hour ago (as I was saying this prayer) she woke up!”

Think about this story. Was he a hero because he took off his jacket and jumped in? Was it that he jumped in twice? Where was the gift of life? It was at the moment that he said, “I blew it, I tried and I tried and blew it.”

Instead of falling to despair, he took that broken heart turned depression and sadness into tefillah. A tefillah that he never said before in his life. And miracles came from it.

There are moments in life that we think we blew it. We have to realize that those very moments, if used correctly, are the seeds for redemption.

-Transcribed from a shiur by Rav Fishel Schachter, shlita
Received via email


Dear Country Yossi,

Gemachness: That word means Gemach business. That’s what’s happening. People are starting gemachim for a profit. Where is the chesed element? Is it a chesed because you give the service or lend the item at a discount? Then call it a discount business. There is nothing wrong with Jews making money, but to hide behind the banner of gemach when it isn’t that, is dangerous. The reason it is dangerous is because slowly but surely the chesed aspect gets lost and everything is a business. Eventually we become driven by a “what’s in it for me” attitude and at that point we are looking at midas sedom in the face - we must always remember the value of chesed. In Rus perek 2 posek 19, Rus says “The name of the man that I did for him (kindness) today is Boaz.” The Medrash derives an important lesson from Rus’s words. In the name of R’ Yehoshua “More than the donor does a kindness for the recipient, the recipient does a kindness for the donor.” This is true because the donor receives a reward for his tzedakah which is worth much more than the few dollars that were given. (This idea is taken from the book ‘Pinnacle of Creation’ page 188.) If it is called a gemach, then by definition it cannot charge. There is another type of gemach that charges and calls itself a free loan. What is the fee? Much time and aggravation until you finally get the money and sometimes bounce fees. I say give the loan fast, without cosigners, and only take payments in cash. How do you weed out ganavim? Easy. Get good references.

Boro Park

Keep Tamimi in Prison

Dear Country Yossi,

Below is an email that I received from my cousin who lost his beautiful daughter Malki in the Sbarro Pizza bombing. One of the people slated for release in the prisoner exchange is the mastermind of that bombing.

Dear Friends,

Earlier today, we sent a letter to the cabinet members of the government of Israel. The following is an English translation of what we wrote to them.

Like the rest of the Jewish nation, we yearn to see Israeli hostage Gilad Shalit back home with his long-suffering parents as soon as possible.

But it is with indescribable pain that we read about the impending mass release of the convicted murderers of Israeli civilians and soldiers. Those of us who still personally feel the agony of the terror attacks of the last few years have failed to motivate our leaders to free Gilad Shilat via alternative means.

Among the prisoners to be released will be the convicted mass murderer Ahlam Tamimi (http://www.kerenmalki.org/Sbarro_Massacre.htm).

And among the victims whose sacrifices will be denigrated is our precious child, Malki (http://www.kerenmalki.org/A_Beautiful_Life.htm).

Tamimi is unique in several ways. As such, she should be treated differently from other convicted murderers.

While she is a woman, and for this reason accorded relatively compassionate coverage by the media, Tamimi is a far more prolific murderer than most of the men she will accompany. She slaughtered seven men and women and eight babies and children in cold blood. Tamimi personally led the suicide-bomber, Al-Masri, right up to the entrance of the target she herself selected, Jerusalem’s Sbarro restaurant, made a hasty getaway to save her own skin, and then, in effect, “fired her weapon.” Few of the prisoners on Hamas’ demand list were so intimately involved in the terror attacks for which they were convicted and sentenced. Those who were, usually died in the attack.

Tamimi was sentenced to 16 consecutive life sentences, and has been in prison for five years. Few of the murderers Israel has agreed to release have spent so brief a period behind bars.

She has enjoyed the notoriously comfortable conditions that Israel lavishes on female Palestinian prisoners, including: the freedom to dress in clothes of her choice - she swapped her secular garb for Muslim fundamentalist scarf and robe; the opportunity to grant interviews to writers and to a documentary film-maker, thereby gaining widespread international media coverage and air-time for her hateful values; the unfettered opportunity to practice her religion to the fullest extent; the option of higher education - she was a university student and part-time journalist at the time of the murders; the time to socialize and politicize with her fellow terrorist-prisoners. Few male Palestinian murderers enjoy conditions as generous as Tamimi’s.

Tamimi has declared unequivocally that she has no regrets about what she did. In one of her media interviews, permitted by the Israel Prison Service, she is quoted saying: “I am not sorry for what I did. I will get out of prison and I refuse to recognize Israel’s existence… Discussions will only take place after Israel recognizes that this is Islamic land.”

Several years ago, Tamimi spoke with Barbara Victor, author of ‘Army of Roses: Inside the World of Palestinian Women Suicide Bombers’ (London; Constable and Robinson, 2004). In her book, Victor writes that Tamimi “didn’t regret the deaths of all these children” and said “They should have returned to Poland, Russia or the United States, to the countries their parents came from.”

Of the other convicted terrorists to be freed, none – as far as we know – has made such egregious and documented statements of un-repentance.

Abdullah Barghouti, another mass murderer who prepared the bomb that slaughtered the Sbarro victims and who is also slated to be released in the Gilad Shalit exchange, publicized his lack of regret as well. But he qualified this by saying: “I do not accept responsibility for their deaths. I feel pain, of course. They were little children. But the government of Israel is solely responsible.”

When, during the filming of a documentary, Tamimi was informed that the number of children she had murdered was higher than she had herself presumed, she smiled with pleasure into the camera.

The Sbarro bombing remains one of the most horrific acts of terrorism that Israel has ever known. It decimated an entire family, the Schijveschuurders; the father, mother and three of their young children died instantly, leaving behind four orphans. It robbed a couple of their only child, pregnant with her first baby when Tamimi murdered her. It sent a young mother into a coma from which she has never emerged; her ravaged life is never included in the tally of Tamimi’s victims.

The evil that Tamimi embodies is special, and deserves treatment distinct from that of the other terrorists.

We recognize, as many observers have pointed out, that Israel has probably bungled the handling of Shalit’s return. The damage has been done and there is no turning back the clock. We are resigned to the fact that releasing terrorists for Gilad Shalit’s return means that Hamas will commit fresh kidnappings.

We also fear that Israeli soldiers, sent by their commanders to risk their lives in the pursuit of suspected terrorists, will now wonder whether they should die just so that another name is added to the next prisoner-release list.

Removing Tamimi’s name from the list will enable Israel to demonstrate some vestige of strength, conviction and morality. This is a message which needs to be heard by its citizens, its enemies, and the world. Please support our efforts to bring this about.

Frimet and Arnold Roth


1. Due to an unfortunate error in our last issue Rabbi Shnitzel Shtitzer should have been quoted as saying “The juice in Boro Park is too acidic” not “The Jews in Boro Park are too Hasidic.” Also, he should have been addressed as “Harav Hagaon” not “Harav Hagoon.” We regret the error and hope he gets his job back.

2. Due to mental paralysis an article in our Real Life section should have stated that the Shammos had the curious but endearing habit of “watering his plants” every Motzei Shabbos, not “watering his pants!” We apologize!

3. In describing the deceased in our last issue the eulogy should have read “Always splendid was his faith and peace was his armor!” NOT “His face was always splattered with pizza and shawarma!” Ouch!

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