Friday, September 22, 2006

Rosh HaShana

As we are rapidly approaching Rosh HaShana it occurs to me that many times during the next week and a half we will think about life - we will wish each other good and sweet years; to enjoy life; to experience only simchas; and finally to live to the next Rosh HaShana. Every year on Rosh HaShana I get reminded of the cliché "Every day is a gift that's why it's called the present".

It may be over used and rather simple - but I think there is elegance in the simplicity. We never know what is in store for us, we don't know if we will live to see another Rosh Hashana, another Yom Kippur, or another Sukkot. One of the things that I don't do nearly enough, not nearly enough* is taking advantage of each day.

At my previous job, the owner would forcefully remind us that we should use two hands to be twice as productive. One of the other employees remarked, "There's a method to his madness, I always remind myself that God gave me two hands, and if I'm not using both of them for a task that could use them then I'm not using God's gift to it's fullest potential". In this time of tshuva we need to remember that each day is a gift and that we need to grab each day by both hands and use it to the best of our abilities.

*- Who, besides Avi, got the The West Wing reference?

Thursday, September 14, 2006

New City, New Job, Broccoli and Heksherim

I've been very busy lately in the past month I moved to a new city (Baltimore) and found a new job, then left that one for another new job. I was asked to become the Mashgiach at Johns Hopkins University which is great except I've been putting in 12-13 hour days regularly. So it pays well but leaves very little time for blogging. I've even got this nifty name tag that says "Mashgiach" apparently nobody cares about my name just my position.

What I really want to write about is Heksherim. I've been a big proponent of Shlomo Aviner's "If you don't have a reason to doubt a heksher, don't" (paraphrased from B'hava u'Emuna found in English thanks to google here). Meaning unless you know for sure that this specific Heksher is not trustworthy then you should trust it. And since I'm certified by two va'ad hakashrut organizations I've got a lot of experience in which heksherim they trust and which they do. Part of me always believed that it wasn't all together right...How do you decide? I never wanted to believe that it came down to money. And I'm now convinced that there is a method to the madness.

All of my salad bar ingredients went bad today so along with the whole process of getting the food prepared I now had the major task of checking a lot of vegetables to get this salad bar up and running. Celery, check. Cabbage, check. Lettuce, check. Then came the broccoli.

Instead of store bought whole broccoli, Dining Services gave me pre cut and presumably pre-washed (industrial not
bedika) broccoli. So I go ahead and start washing it. While checking the water I notice a brown aphid*. That's not unexpected. The next glance, there's three more. I take this opportunity to show the managers my find and tell them I hope they're washing the broccoli too - of course. Time to rewash. Geez, still more aphids, all of them brown. A lot of them. Next wash, okay this is getting ridiculous, still more brown aphids.

That makes three, got to scrap the whole bag. It was at this point that I noticed a
heksher on the bag. What? Some company decided that this was kosher? I'm still in shock. I've never seen more aphids in one handful of broccoli in my life. This heksher (do is still call it that?) is not on this list of Star-K approved heksherim (thank God), but it now occurs to me that this is why they don't accept this one and that there must be a similar reason to not accept the others.

* - Aphids are normally light green or white and parboiling turns them brown [according to the OU Guide to Preparing Fruits and Vegetables]. This heksher went through the trouble of parboiling the broccoli but forgot to check it completely. Unbelievable.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

UN Ambulances

If you haven't seen these two videos that have recently surfaced (thanks to JoeSettler for bringing them to my attention) showing UN Ambulances involved in transporting Hezbollah terrorists to and from the staging areas for rocket attacks.

Here is a direct link to the first one:

And the second:

While it is easy to attempt to negate the evidence portrayed in the videos - be they fakes or stolen UN vehicles - what is necessary is to try to create a situation much like the falsified Reuters photos where an investigation is necessary. To create enough notice that the UN looks into them. If they are stolen - an answer that I can accept - the UN should have reported that day if not the next that an ambulance was stolen and possibly used for attacks against Israel. If they are fakes then shame on the people that made them.

As a historian this gets me into an area that I wish I knew more about - how do we know that anything really happend?. I hope to post on this eventually as my thoughts come together and I do some more research. Sufice it to say that the argument regarding the dinosaur bones, ma'aseh bereshis and testing our emunah will be discussed.