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Singing is off again. Now it’s the pace. Jim Grunfeld went on his own pace this Friday night, singing the 'Yedid Nefesh' real loud. Nobody could keep up. Since he was so loud, we all had to go along with him. We all had to catch up to him. Each verse, we had to skip three words, to keep up with his speed. And then he led the congregation in Friday night prayers and it was hard to keep up. Most were happy, as they were only up to Lecha Dodi when he finished the Amida.
Jim is loud and getting older. He can’t hear others, so this is what we're going to have to deal with for the next twenty or so years.
Frank's youngest, Eliezer, is playing puzzles in the back of the shul. All of davening. In the beginning of 'Lecha Dodi' on Friday night, we're all singing and he’s hitting the table. Everybody got into it. The whole shul starts banging the tables, as they loved Eliezer's beat. We turn around for ‘Boee vShalom’, and all see the kid smacking his puzzle pieces, banging them into place.
Menachem was let down. He thought the kid was a little rebbe leading us all.
A rebbe with a big beard was passing through this past Wednesday. I've never heard our rabbi say 'Baruch H"' so many times. It seemed like he was afraid he was going to lose his ordination. I believe he said it fifteen times in eight minutes. It might have been his rabbi from yeshiva. All I know is that he was excessive about it. The rebbe asked him how many congregants there are. He said, 'Baruch H",' and that was it. No numbers, just B"H.
A couple minutes later, the rebbe started speaking with Max in Yiddish. The rebbe seemed to love Max much more than Rabbi Mendelchem, as the rebbe started smiling. I think the rebbe even asked Max why this other guy, who's not the rabbi, is constantly saying 'Baruch H".'
Max has been licking his fingers again. He's even started chuching, to get better saliva for the page turn. Every Siddur in the shul has his lickings on it. Jim is having problems turning pages, it's only a matter of time before he starts licking his fingers.
So they bought new sanitizer at Ollie’s. I know this because the price tag is still on the bottles. It was $1.99 a bottle. I think the board wanted to show everybody that they bought the only item at Ollie's that's not a good deal.
I think this whole COVID issue is because these older guys lick their fingers. We wouldn't need sanitizer if they didn't turn pages.
There is definitely a lot of talking in shul. A lot of people chattering the whole davening. It's hard to hear the Chazan. They've been mostly quiet during the rabbi's sermon, so the rabbi hasn't addressed it yet. He's fine with the tradeoff of talking only during his the prayers.
There are many new congregants that have joined. One took over Gabaiship right away. So, their kid runs around with nobody watching them. Being that the new Gabai started running stuff a week into joining the shul, because nobody else wanted to do it, we're now following the Hollywood, Florida traditions. That's probably why there's a lot of talking in shul.
The gabai's kid was running around with Kippah and shoes in hand. Went up to the Bima with shoes in hand. Kippah was understood, but the shoes had everybody asking. Nobody could figure out how that was protesting Gd.
Rabbi Mendelchem’s Sermon
Avraham was sick, but he still took in guests. He wanted to do a Mitzvah, even when he was sick. Jessica won't even take in a guest when she stubs a toe… Just look at the beginning of the Parsha… Angels are guests too…
He was circumcised and he still took in guests, three days later... I know people get out of surgery fast nowadays, but you give at least a week... You have the hiccups, you don't have guests for two weeks... It might have been a chutzpah to visit without calling first... They didn't have phones then, Bernie. They were doing a mitzvah. The shuls Bikur Cholim committee hasn't visited anybody in the past month and a half... If everybody on the Visiting the Sick committee is sick, what good is it?...
It was the heat of the day and he was sitting there, circumcised, waiting for guests (Bereishit 18:1). You won't even leave your car in August, because you have air-conditioning...
No matter which side you are on, you've got to put in the effort. Jessica, listen.
The food Avraham gave his guests was excellent. It was tasty. I was at the Friedblums for Shabbat dinner. Food was not that good. I would not call that Hachnasat Orchim... (Bereishit 18:6-8) ‘Kemach Lushi’… That’s good stuff. Fine flour. Not the rough Challah. It wasn't the village bread. It was fluffy… Yeah. I like village bread. But that's a side dish. It was bread… ‘he took a calf, tender and good.’ It wasn’t the bad stuff. It wasn't the first cut that the Friedblums had. It had a decent amount of fat. Good taste… You don't serve meat and then say you want to lose weight right then... Vegan meat is not meat, even if they call themselves a butcher... He took butter and milk… It might have been the 'I can't believe it's not butter.' Maybe it was margarine. Maybe those laws weren't laws yet. Maybe he understood the laws of 'don't cooke a kid in its mother's milk' literally, at that time. Maybe he served the milk first...
I was invited out last week with my wonderful family, to a mishpacha in this community. Mr. Grunfeld, please tell me. Do you call what was served for dinner Hachnasat Orchim? The mitzvah of welcoming your guests? ‘Avraham hurried… ran to the cows’… He wanted to feed his guests. You don’t make them wait… If you have to, you use a microwave, you use a microwave… No. Nobody is coming for conversation... Then you go to the bodega, Makolet (whatever you want to call it). You don't go grocery shopping once your guests have already showed.
You had guests and that was good. We appreciate that. However, for educational purposes, do you consider chicken that is dried out to be welcoming? Quinoa?! You call that food?! You know the rabbi and the rebbitzin are not vegetarian...
Sarah went inside and made them cake. Fresh cake. She didn't serve Entenmann's doughnuts. She definitely didn't think that the plane doughnut leftovers that nobody chose to eat were respectful enough for her guests... If that's the case, you get another package, so people can have the brown droplet and chocolate glazed doughnuts...
He fed them under the tree and not in the tent... Maybe they wanted more of a picnic feel... They could've been robbers, and there was a nice breeze...
When Avraham runs to welcome the guests, he says to Gd, (Bereishit 18:3) 'If I please find favor in your eyes, please don't pass from in front of your servant'... Yes. He was proper. He said 'please.' Avraham understood that you don't get stuff without saying 'please'... You act proper and respectful. And I am still trying to figure out why Eliezer's feet are up on the chair... Rashi first says he was talking to the angels. I chose Rashi's second explanation of the translation, that he was talking to Gd... I chose that because you don't understand the importance of welcoming people to your home... Then welcome the sick. If you're not going to deliver matzah ball soup, serve them matzah ball soup in your home... He asked Gd to wait. Some things H' wants you to do right away. We have obligations in this world. Caring for other people is something H' wants to see... If you're not going to have them in your home, then go sleep at theirs...
Avraham asked H' to wait for him, as he welcomed guests. He didn't keep on with his discourse with H' for he had to fulfill the mitzvah of Hachnasat Orchim. Which is why I, as the rabbi, am still trying to understand why the Grunfelds decided to give such a lengthy Dvar Torah. So boring. We wanted to eat and nobody cares what little Shloimy learned in cheder/school... I give Dvar Torah things every week, I don't want to hear it. You can go back to your connecting with H' later. When we are gone... When we are there, you feed us. The questions of when to relate to H', when to relate to our fellow man. Do they connect with each other? Does H' like dried out chicken, Jim?...
We serve H' together, and that is hard when the chicken is not juicy... You don't serve H' together when the other people make you wait... Microwave it... You didn't even give Rachel the finger. You give the one second finger... At least ackowledge that you know she is there...
We are talking about bringing in guests. Not building a fence around your home to keep out your neighbors away.... What you would do to get rid of your neighbors, to not see anybody. That is why I suggested to the local police forces that the homicide last week on Madison St. was probably one of the neighbors who wanted some privacy. After investigation, we do know it was not the Grunfeld family. But we do ask, why are you trying to keep people away? That quinoa stuff was disgusting. Even if you do not want guests, give decent food. Respect the world enough, H' enough, to cook something decent. Fine flour... Quinoa? Are you trying to never have guests again?...
He had them wash up outside... They weren't clean.... He didn't give the guests sanitizer... Because it doesn't clean, Pinchas...
Now we have many freeloaders from the TriState area this week. As Avraham would, please welcome them in and make them wash their disgusting selves, as they have been without water and electricity for a couple of days... Every time there is rain, somehow, New Yorkers make their way to Topeka... Not the sanitizer.
Sometimes, you have to ask H' to wait, so that you can do a better job of serving Him. Look at this shul. Let's fix it a bit... Before Musaf, pick up a wrapper... Then teach your kids how to find a garbage. Treat it like hide and go seek... I heard them screaming 'I'm going to catch you' in the halls during Torah reading. We're layning, and half of the congregation runs out to see if she caught Eliezer...
This is not how you present your home to guests… Yes. The shul is your home. That doesn’t mean to fall asleep in the middle of the sermon, Bernie. The shul is our home and we must be inviting. We must have better potato kugel...
This is the most tacky shul… You don’t leave price tags on bottles… We saw you got a deal… Stan gets deals all the time… That’s his style. We know that because he always talks about the bargain he got… Even he doesn’t walk around with the price tag… Our home will not be tacky. We're not looking to be entertainers. This is not a comedy. We're looking to entertain the guests properly, unlike the Grunfelds...
(Bereishit 18:12) 'And Sarah laughed at herself'... She was old, and she couldn't imagine having kids, like the angels said she would... She didn't think she could have kids again... Look at Sharon. 55. Had kids. And we're all asking questions... It was messed up. Even so, we support you... We laugh about it. We all know that she's going to have to be paying for college when she's 75...
H' asks Avraham why she is laughing (Bereishit 18:14) 'Is anything impossible for H'? At the time I will return to you, at this time next year, and Sarah will have a son'... If H' were to say that He would give our shul a Minyin during the week, I would laugh... Because it never happens... It's not impossible. H' can make anything happen. He can even make a decent chicken of the Grunfeld's dinner. It's about making our home welcoming. And that starts with how we raise the children...
The kids are messed up, but we cannot laugh at this anymore... Take control of your kids. We finally have babysitting again... We don't want to lose her... We lost the last one, because your kids are crazy... I would laugh if somebody told me your children can sit in shul and daven without doing flips...
Anim Zemirot ark opening is dangerous… These kids are crazy… Yours was on the floor, rolling. The other is dancing… The other is doing the back and forth skip in place… Can any child stand there in penitence…
Your Bar Mitzvah and Simmy passed… We're going to miss Simmy. Even so, we will always have the Siddurs that he licked to remind us. Mazel Tov on your Bar Mitzvah, Benjamin. Have guests... Here is your Siddur.
Rivka’s Notes on Rabbi Mendelchem’s Sermon
The rabbi protested the vegan butcher, along with his protests of Jessica, the Friedblooms and the Grunfeld family.
The rabbi wrote a lengthy letter to the teachers, telling them to stop sending home Parsha notes and Divrei Torah to read at the Shabbat table. He made it clear to them that it is very annoying to everybody at the table to have to listen to whatever these kids are learning in second grade. He said it is fine to teach them a song about the Parsha, to sing at the Shabbat table. Yet, anything more than that will not be tolerated in our community anymore. As the rabbi wrote, 'It is painful and boring to hear what the second graders learned about the Avraham and Ytizchak story at the altar, this year. You, the teachers, are stopping parents in our community from wanting to birth more children...'
The passing of Simmy was hard on all. He was a smoker. 95 and he is now gone. He was also a finger licker. A turn the page finger licker. We will always remember him from the yellow pages in the Siddurim. He turned them all yellow with his cigar spittle.
The new members didn’t care. They just complain about the stickiness of the pages. I don't know how the rabbi is going to deal with the new members. I think that they can't afford to go back to New York. Now, they're just going to complain. The rabbi will probably be out of a job next year, as the big city people don't understand the concept of dues.
Joining the Bar Mitzvah and Simmy’s death was a bold move. Don’t know how the kid’s family took it. The kid will remember the message. Also, giving the kid the licked siddur was quite meaningful.
Sanitizer is being placed right at Max and Jim's seats. I hope they get the message.
The shul is afraid there is going to be an injury with the ark opening. The kids are treating the carpet on the Bima (stage) as though it's a tumbling mat. It’s better than the fighting that happened to open up the curtain five years back. They were violent. It was a mosh line, to open the ark. Those kids would elbow each other. The kids now are so unaware and ADDed that they don’t even notice the curtain is being open. Do they realize we’re all looking at them?! They're jumping around and doing tushy dances. Everybody in the shul is watching this. During kiddish, half of the conversation in shul was about the children and their issues. Every kid has issues nowadays; the reason, they are kids.
Most of the congregants think they are child psychologists now. The issue is apparently the parents. It always comes down to the parents. The few that are not proclaiming to be psychologists are suggesting the kids go to a psychologist, due to excessive movement. Kids moving is now a problem according to our congregants. They seem to support kids playing video games all day.
I don't think the kids realize that the whole congregation is watching them
We lost another babysitter a few weeks later, as one of the kids decided to just yell. No reason. Just a lot of yelling.
Talking in shul was still going on the whole service. The rabbi made an announcement, in which he shared another Dvar Torah about Sodom. I think he called the congregants Sodomites, as he talked about the evil people. He said that Avraham asked H’ if Sodom could be saved if there were just ten good people (Bereishit 18:32). At that point, he looked around the shul and shook his head.
He also mentioned that the angels were doing a Mitzvah by visiting Avraham when he was sick. Whereas, the congregants just disturb people when they visit and ring the bell. We’re still working on how to do Bikur Cholim correctly. The next lesson is going to be on how to knock correctly.
The rabbi started a new fundraiser to put together a cookbook for those who want to do Hachnasat Orchim correctly, with decent food. He is calling it the How to Not Cook Like the Members of Beis Kneses Anshei Emes uSefilah Cookbook. With all the talk of Hachnasat Orchim, the rabbi did not complain that the Grunfelds didn't sing at their Shabbat table. The singing is off in our shul, and Jim is to blame for that. If Jim would've sung, the rabbi would've talked about how Avraham didn't sing for his guests, as that would not have been proper Hachnasat Orchim.
Hide and go seek has become a big game in shul. The little ones found Eliezer when they opened up the curtain for Anim Zmirot.
The vegan butcher is still a debate. The rabbi says it's Ma'aras Ayin, the law of how things appear to the onlooker, to call anything vegetarian a butchery. As the new Gabai, who loves puns, said, 'They're butchering the butcher.'
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Wearing Israeli flags. Showing their support for Israel at the rally in DC. It would’ve been smarter if they brought coats. Based on experience, flags don’t work as good windbreakers.