May 26, 2009

School System Today

Filed under: My childhood, What went wrong, What went right? — Reb Moshe @ 11:47 pm

Children are lucky today to go through the entire school system & even have 1 or 2 really good teachers that show them love for Torah, Crafts, Art, etc… How sad. In the old days, a teacher would remain with the children for many years, taking an interest in everything about them & their personal growth. Today, every year there is a new teacher who barely knows more then your name. We must pray for good education!
How many children have to take pills to concentrate & learn when most of them just need a teacher that cares!

January 4, 2009

Kids don’t need to Know

Parents many times talk in front of their kids not realizing that they are little sponges soaking everything up. Kids don’t need to know about Wars and Politics. They need to know that life is about love and respect. There is plenty of time to learn that life is not a rose garden.

December 25, 2008

Family Tree Time

Filed under: My childhood, What went wrong, What went right? — Reb Moshe @ 6:47 am

A few years ago I started searching online for relatives and I found a bit of information. Even last year I had done a search to figure out our genealogy but didn’t get to far. Today things are different and that is why I am sharing this with you. There is an enormous amount of material out there that is recently scanned out of archives from all over the world. I must warn you though, it is quite addicting and endless to go through. I sound this page to be a nice place to create ones tree, http://www.myheritage.com/
Maybe i will share it with you and we can see if even you and i are somehow related?

December 22, 2008

My First Book

Filed under: My childhood, What went wrong, What went right? — Reb Moshe @ 6:54 am

As many of you know, I have written many sefarim, books which are available from online. It is interesting to note that I actually wrote a photography book when I was 18 and then stopped about 3/4 of the way. I don’t think i will ever show this to anyone. Then when I was about 14 years old, I wrote a book about a boy who played basketball on a team. I guess, we all have to start somewhere!

November 26, 2008

Without my camera?

Filed under: My childhood, What went wrong, What went right? — Reb Moshe @ 4:13 am

My wife was encouraging me to take a trip to Tiberias tonight to relax. I gave her a look and said, “without my video Camera (since it is broken). How do I do that? I don’t take trips like that. What would I do with myself.” You know my friends, my first book as a kid was called, “Peter and his Camera”.

November 20, 2008

My New Cousin

Filed under: My childhood, What went wrong, What went right? — Reb Moshe @ 6:37 pm


Free Videos by Reb Moshe, TorahVideo.comilovetorah.com

I just got an email from a new cousin that found the site and is related to me. He submitted this video for everyone to see.

August 4, 2008

Keep Torah exciting for ones family

Filed under: Blog Torah,My childhood, What went wrong, What went right? — Reb Moshe @ 1:12 am

It is important when doing mitzvos in front of our families and children to do so with extra enthusiasm. The kids should see us getting into the shabbos suidos, singing with gusto and taste our love for Hashem. This really is the way to give over our Jewish tradition. My father always made sure to wake up extra early before I got up so that when I came downstairs in the morning, he was already studying Torah. When I returned from school in the afternoon, he also made sure his books were open and he greeted me with Torah thoughts he learned that day. Also, even though I caught him sometimes turning off the news radio and grabbing his book really fast, his heart was in what he was doing. Giving me over the Torah in such a way that I would continue it. His love for Torah was unquestionable. So we must follow this way, showing our kids and family that Torah is apart of us so they can continue this when they grow up. Another thing overlooked by many, this point was brought up to me by Rabbi Mann, it is important ones wife sees her husband learning. If he is always studying at yeshiva or at shirim, the Torah doesn’t feel real enough to her in her own home. You have to make some noise at home as well for every ones sake, including your own.
People ask me often what to do about their unaffiliated Jewish families and I tell them, show them how Torah has changed you for the better. Nobody can overlook and deny your devotion to Judaism when they see right before them a better person. Study is to bring us to action and better character traits otherwise, one is missing the point.

August 1, 2008

Too much remembering

Filed under: My childhood, What went wrong, What went right? — Reb Moshe @ 5:33 am

Tonight I have a bit of a migrain so I have been stuck in bed remembering old times and struggles. I think if I shared some of it, nobody would believe me. It wasn’t an easy life being one of the few Jews in my city. Of course, we were the only ones who lived the life openly with kipahs, tzitzis and even payis. Yeah, unlike some might think, I grew up religious my entire life. It is unusual for someone like myself to have an understanding of people who come from secular backgrounds but for me, I learned to understand both worlds. Since this was the case, going into outreach naturally was my destiny. I learned to be understanding of people the hard way though.

It didn’t take long for me to realize the best way to remain alive and healthy was to become cool enough that people wouldn’t want to mess with me. Through sports and my athletic abilities, I became friends with gang members, KKK members, drug dealers and you name it. Now I don’t know if I was really a friend but enough to have protective status most of the time. I really can’t explain it all. Just imagine a KKK guy telling his buddies to leave me alone since I was cool. Now picture dangling payis, a bulls hat and a short kid. Doesn’t really make very much sense does it? I can’t really explain how I pulled this off but between the skateboarding, bike jumping, basketball and running home to put on tefillin, it somehow worked out though. But it wasn’t always so quiet.
Now I didn’t live in the inner city or anything like that but our township decided to move in section 8 into our area to help clean up the inner city streets. This brought our suburb house value down and before we knew it, our nice neighborhood was different. People moved in that hated Jews and when the police got a call for any violence in the neighborhood, they would know our street address. In fact, some of the officers knew our first names. We were the religious Jews in the wrong place.
While most of the violence was limited to snow balls, firecrackers and name calling. Sometimes things got really at of hand. So much for me personally that I decided to keep things to myself. It was already painful enough for my parents and they had no money to move. They never really knew what I confronted daily. Even so, I had my protection in place or at least I had dreamed that part up well enough. It would take hundreds of pages and a auto biography to write it all down but tonight I am remembering some small details. Like I said though, you wouldn’t believe all the details if I spoke of them.

I still remember the light reflecting off the knife as it pushed against my neck. Seeing the riffle aimed at me, the pickup truck at my bumper chasing me at high speeds, rallies of people outside our house chanting Jew… maybe it was 50 of them night after night. So how could such a place of such misery even today bring me comfort? How can it be a place that I miss with all my heart and wish I could visit again? Did I dream up all this violence?

I learned by age 21 that your biggest fears, you have to face head on. Running away is never the answer. In fact, all your answers are in the fears and problems themselves. When I realized that I had to make the best of what I had, used this energy to study more Torah, and the neighborhood slowly improved. For an entire year and a half, not one incident accrued and those who troubled me, moved out. I found the place a sanctuary for learning Torah and improvement. Too me, this place was like the Baal Shem Tovs forest, I could turn it around for the better.

I know what you are all thinking, I should write an auto-biography but I am afraid to do this for Loshon Hara because as you can imagine, why hadn’t other Jews come to our aid? Didn’t anyone know of our troubles?

Looking back, is my true pain from those who wanted to cause me harm or from those who could have done more to help out but looked away? Then again, maybe today I am no different then them with my shiny white shirt and black shoes. Maybe I have forgotten what it is like to be alone in the world with just Hashem. It could be, this is why I want to return to my roots, to remember the great Shabbos meals I used to have where my only friend was Hashem. Where I understood the importance of even the smallest pain of a Jew. The days when I felt Hashem protecting me at every moment. The first days when I began ilovetorah. It was all in this place, Walkersville, Maryland.
Good Shabbos

July 30, 2008

Reminiscing on old times

Filed under: My childhood, What went wrong, What went right? — Reb Moshe @ 6:19 am

Last night I was reminiscing on old times. I went on youtube and searched for my old town Walkersville, Maryland, where I grew up. I was trying to find videos of some of the old streams I would immerse in for the mikvah, ritural purity bath. The places I would go to do hisbodidus, to pray to Hashem and meditate. Places like, Cunningham Falls, Catoctin Mountains, Appalachian Mountains, and Thurmont, Maryland (headquarters of the KKK) where places I visited daily with a sefer or towel.

I found some random videos of bridges and streams I would jump under and the cars on the video reminded me how I used to duck when I saw them coming. It was quite a laugh to see these places again. I am a bit disappointed I didn’t find more. Then I remembered that I grew up in redneck-ville as my wife calls it. So I purposely misspelled a few of the places and sure enough a few more videos came up. The old town watershed which was my main mikvah and then I found some of my favorite parks. I have so many memories in these parts and traveling through most of Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia. In some of these states I visited 95% of the state parks and forests doing photography in my younger years. Then in the end of my traveling days, as I matured, I decided too no longer run away from the beauty near my home but to appreciate where I lived. This is when things starting fitting into place more and more. If there is interest, maybe I can compose a video of some of the old parks that I visited, used as a mikvah and learned at. Understanding ones past can sometimes be key towards understanding the self today. The more we run from it, the more it truly haunts us. It might be far wiser to embrace were we have come from and how we arrived to the place we are today.

October 8, 2007

My Music Background

Filed under: My childhood, What went wrong, What went right? — Reb Moshe @ 2:14 am

My father as a teen worked for Radio City Music Hall and CBS. His music teacher thought he was a genius as he not only played music by ear but he had perfect pitch. I remember him once tuning a friends piano by ear. It was a sad thing for my family when we gave away an theater organ he had put together himself. Quite literally, my father could name any classical or new age music from 2-3 notes.

As a child, I was taught to hear the difference between Bach, Chopin, Vivaldi and to appreciate musical talent. Having heard music in my house from sunrise to sunset, I simply rebelled from this older sound until life’s pressures helped me to appreciate the music of my father. During my rebellion, I learned to appreciate literally every musical art form and it is quite funny that in the end, today, my favorite composer is Bach.

Maybe it was because my father couldn’t hold a note with his voice even if his life was dependent on it, that he lived this dream through me. I was the only one singing songs Friday Night on Shabbos in my home. It was always my fathers wish that I would one day become a cantor. Well, I probably need a bit of brush up for something like that:)

My Uncle and Grandmother played the mandolin. Since they grew up as Gerer Chassidim, the music they played was primarily nigunim they heard from their fathers table. My greatgrandfather, Gedalya Aharon was known for his Hachnasas Orchim. He would invite Polish Soldiers to dine with them on shabbos.

My mother played the flute when she was in her teens. Over the years, I had tried to take lessons from my parents in piano and Flute but what can I say? I had learned to read notes and play a little but I was distracted by sports. In my early 20’s, I learned viola from the top musician in the Baltimore Symphony. She taught me for free, so great was her love of music. Unfortunately, during that age period, I simply didn’t have the time to travel back and forth for lessons. It was a 1 hour trip each way by horse and buggy (okay, maybe I am not that old).

So leaving my favorite instrument, the viola aside (second favorite piano played only on a Baldwin, Third soprano sax), I tried living my dream through my wife. She is a piano composer who plays by ear and you have heard many of her compositions on the site.

As far as my singing, I used to sing all the time as a boy but I had stopped when people made comments about my voice when I was about 10. From that day on, I never sang in public ever again until I was 20 years old. For me, getting my first car meant having a place to sing. I believe there was a few Shabbos meals that I sang quite literally, about 7 hours straight. Granted, I was the only one left at the table the last 4 of those hours. If you asked my sister, what she remembers about my suidos on Shabbos, she would say, “He made me sit through all of it. Hours and hours of singing”.

I now face an interesting crossroads. I’m tired of pushing others to play music for me so I can sing accompaniment. I could try to live my dream through my children but will it truly quench my thirst for music? I’m also not satisfied with the music I hear today so I find myself flipping through 100 songs before I listen to anything. Therefore, it is time to restring up the guitars and learn some cords! I think you guys are tired of some classical song with acoustic but it is time to wipe off the dust from the electric. So, I ask of all of you, Please pray that I can play! Cause for me, playing music with my hands has simply never worked out all that well.

Today, if you offered me a CD from Mozitz, I would trade you many contemporary musicians in exchange. I have learned that the greatest music in the world is the ones that were composed with the thought, I want to come closer to Hashem this very moment. Today, many artists play for the sound itself, rather then trying to just let the sound lead them (closer to Hashem). I find this myself. Many times after I finish singing on Torah Video, I turn off the camera and then start singing totally for my neshamah not worrying about hitting or missing a note. This truly is the music that should be on the videos and not the ones that are song to please the ear instead of the soul.

On a positive note, the home sound studio is setup. Shure and Audio Technica Recording mics. Professional Sound car, Amp (could use a 2 tube amp), and my Bose speakers I reclaimed from my wife (put this in your marriage contract, sound system stays in the mans office). Now I pray for available time!

July 18, 2007

HaRav Amrom Taub zt”l

Filed under: My childhood, What went wrong, What went right? — Reb Moshe @ 7:33 am

Some called him the Baltimore Rebbe, HaRav Amrom Taub zt”l passed away this week. Here is a story of how I got a special glimpse into this Tzaddik’s life. It was Thursday night, the day before Shabbos and I wanted a special experience to remember. I picked up the phone and called the Rabbi’s house and spoke to his wife. Probably, I was one of few people to ever ask to join in their private Shabbos meal. I was pleased when they agreed. Especially to my last minute boldness.

To be continued…

February 15, 2007

When Love has a Line____________ it looses its realness…

Over the years, I reflected upon my upbringing and how it brought me to learn Ahavas Yisrael, love for my fellow Jew. Our Rabbi’s tell us, this is the foundation of the entire Torah. Since I grew up in an area devoid of any Jews, I pondered how I learnt this important lesson and placed it at the forefront of my life.

“If their are no Jews around, help the Non-Jews and everyone you can. Teach yourself to be a kind person to everyone and practice on anyone around you.” Over the years, I became a bit Jealous of my fathers non-Jewish friends whom I felt snatched his time away from me. Of course, this wasn’t really the case but an allusion for a young boy who was busy finding himself but in actuality, it became one of the biggest lessons of my life.

A person who constantly labels others and draws lines between their friends, helping others and simply extending their full love to mankind, can never be a true loving person. In fact, it may be impossible to reach true Ahavas Yisrael between Jews when one learns or keeps any form of hate within their heart. This would even extend towards are fellow man who was not born Jewish. They should be respected as Hashem’s creation and one must love them as such. How much more so the Kohain, Levi, Yisrael, Sedardi, Chassid, Litvach, Conservative, Reform, Ultra- Orthodox or what have you. But only through a total love of Hashem’s creations can one reach this true love with their fellow Jew.

At the same time though, it must not be forgotten the wise words of our sages, to separate ourselves from the ways of other nations. To not dress, speak or act like other nations but to remain Jewish in mind and thought. But this concept should not be confused with one of hate and our sages have also said, “Then the nations will know there is One Hashem.” They would not have bothered stating this if it wasn’t important that we show non-Jews respect and love, otherwise why would we care what they think. One should not go out of their way to have non-Jewish friends and contacts but should Hashem place these people before you in life’s-circumstances, extend out your ability to love. This way, when it also comes to your fellow Jew who may be on the verge of crossing that line, you will love them too.

February 14, 2007

I want my Mommy!

Filed under: My childhood, What went wrong, What went right? — Reb Moshe @ 5:57 am

p1010017.JPGI miss my mother. I haven’t seen her in almost two years now. Mommy!!!!!!!!!!!!! Will you come visit soon?

November 13, 2006

Chinuch, teaching children

Filed under: My childhood, What went wrong, What went right? — Reb Moshe @ 9:46 pm

In the old days, a Rebbe in cheder meant that a teacher of children understood that this was not a one year commitment to the child but rather, he would always be there for the child. A Rebbe meant more then just a one year, Hello, goodbye… I taught you… go find yourself a new teacher.

When a father picked a teacher for his son, the child stayed with that teacher until the Rebbe had taught everything he knew in Judaism. He didn’t find him a new teacher until the Rebbe literally was milked for everything he had. Students always learned more from the angle of memorizing the material then a quick overview of chapters.

The Rebbes didn’t give up on children but taught them at their level of grasp. He was able to teach many students simultaneously even though their levels were different. He was a melamid, teacher because he was truly gifted and loved it.

The most important thing in the world for children are their first teachers in grade school.  This teacher must believe in them wholeheartedly and make them feel special. He must show them love of commandments, not a pressure of keeping them. I ask of Hashem that all of us should be worthy of such a teacher for ourselves, our children and all of Israel. Amen

April 16, 2006

Who picks the teachers for our kids?

Filed under: My childhood, What went wrong, What went right? — Reb Moshe @ 4:50 pm

I have heard of so many stories of children who were hit, verbally abused and tormented by their teachers.

Looking back, I see that half of these teachers naturally quit on their own, realizing chinuch wasn’t for them, while the other half, still go on in their ways.

Who picked these teachers for our kids?

How is it that they still hold their jobs?

1. First grade teacher, I thought of him as a prince of Israel as a kid, then a few years later he took me in a car to cut my payis off. Later that night, him and my 3th grade teacher pinned me down to remove them.

2. Second grade teacher, Masive anger problems in the classroom. I ate at his house years later, I didn’t recognize him. Today he has become a sweety. What happened, did he grow up?

3. Third grade, masive anger problems. He knew this of himself and eventually found a new occupation, but how many children were turned off for life from Torah because of him. Then again, all of us kids always knew he was a genuin person, just wasn’t a very good teacher. Maybe some have scares on their bottom to recall this but if we saw him today, would we embrase him? Who told him to teach?

4. Forth grade, I learned the beauty of learning. We felt loved and warmth. The Torah was sweet again.

5. Fifth grade, All this sweetness from 4th. I craved more but he didn’t know how to give it. I was lonely and craved the Torah with knowone to fill my pallet.

6. Sixth grade, Principle, teachers, somebody turn them upside down, the boy wants to learn Gemarah. Why wouldn’t they let him? I was not allowed in the Gemarah class because they didn’t feel I was “ready”. Hello, boy wants to learn gemarah, then he is ready, hello! Sixth grade, one of the hardest years of my life. I borded at one of my teachers home. I cried every night to sleep. To make a long story short, I could not even drive within 15 miles of his home or the school for 10 years thereafter without having an anxiety attack or the want to feed him and a few others to sharks. But again, I ask, why is this man still teaching in our schools? Why are the head Rabbi’s of communities oblivious to what goes on in our school systems.

7. Seventh grade. I don’t know if you can handle the twist of life here.