Saturday, February 28, 2009

making the menorah: effort is what counts

Rashi (25:40) cites the well known Chazal that Moshe could not understand how to make the menorah until he was shown a vision of a menorah of fire by Hashem. Yet, Rashi earlier (25:31) explains that the Torah uses the passive voice "tei'aseh hamenorah", "the menorah was made", because Moshe could not make the menorah and therefore just tossed the gold into the fire and it came out by itself. If the menorah was impossible for Moshe to make himself, what was the point of showing him the image of the menorah in response to his confusion? The problem of how to make the menorah remained unsolved!

The Maharal (Gur Aryeh) says a beautiful yesod: while the menorah might have been impossible for Moshe to independently make, that did not excuse him from making an effort. Without the image of the menorah of fire, Moshe could not even begin work on the menorah because the goal was unclear. Once shown the image, he could at least try. And that's all Hashem wants -- try, make an effort! Even if what is demanded seems impossible, do what you can and let Him worry about bringing things to completion.

As my wife wrote in her post that I referenced earlier, the Imahos were by definition destined to be the foremothers of the Jewish people. Hashem made them barren because living one's destiny is not sufficient --- Hashem wants a person to make an effort to bring about that destiny, even an effort of expressing personal desire through prayer to achieve what can only come to fruition with Hashem's help.

Friday, February 27, 2009

the purpose of building Mikdash

We once upon a time discussed the different views of the Rambam and the Ramban with respect to the mitzvah of building a mishkan. The Rambam opens his Hilchos Beis haBechira by describing the mitzvah of building a "bayis laHashem" which is "muchan l'hakriv bo korbanos", a place designated for sacrificial offerings. The Mishkan and Mikdash have a clear and defined purpose. The Ramban, however, defines Mikdash/Mishkan as a model of the Har Sinai experience, a place where the Shechina is revealed; it would seem korbanos are secondary to that purpose or just a means to elicit a hashra'as haShechina.

Parethetically, last Shabbos the 5T had the privilege of hosting my rebbe, R' Blachman of KBY, and he mentioned this Rambam while speaking on Friday night. R' Blachman seemed dismissive of the idea that the Mikdash's purpose is korbanos -- korbanos are what are done in the Mikdash, but they are not the Mikdash itself. The Mikdash itself is defined by the Rambam's words "bayis laHashem", which R' Blachman suggested (based on a Tosefta in Zevachim) is means the place of the aron. I did not get to ask, but I am not sure how this reading makes sense of the additional words "muchan l'hakriv korbanos" -- why introduce what is done in Mikdash here if it is not a definition? Leave that for Hilchos Ma'aseh Korbanos, etc.

Perhaps there is another element of meaning to these words "muchan l'hakriv bo korbanos". Rashi explains "v'yikchu li Teruma" to mean that the mitzvah must be done lishma, strictly for the sake of Heaven and for some other personal agenda. The Rambam therefore perhaps stresses the purpose of Mikdash in the opening to these halachos in order to emphasize that it is this purpose alone which must guide our intent in building a Mikdash (I am not familiar offhand with another place in Hil Beis haBechira where the Rambam codifies this rule of lishma).

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

mis'aveh l'tefilasan shel tzadikim

The gemara (Yevamos) tells us that the Imahos were barran because Hashem desired to hear their prayers. Surely, as the meforshim ask (see Tiferes Shlomo, hashlamos to vol 1) and as anyone who has children will tell you, having children is not the end of one's efforts in prayer, but rather is the start of a lifetime of prayer on behalf of the needs of those children. Why would Hashem have not given the Imahos children in order to inspire those prayers? And more importantly, are we not c"v suggesting that G-d engages in sadistic sport by making the righteous needlessly suffer just so he can hear their prayers? My wife has a nice approach which she wrote up here - take a look.

ruba d'isa kaman / ruba d'leisa kaman (II)

It seems like its been forever since I last posted here! Wish I had more time... To briefly get back to ain holchin b'mamon achar harov, we learned a machlokes between Tosfos and Rashbam whether no rov can be used to determine dinei mamonos or whether a ruba d'isa kaman is acceptable. The machlokes seems to depend on the lomdus behind what ain holchin achar harov teaches: does it mean that rov is categorically an unacceptable form of evidence in the realm of mamonos, or does it mean that rov is unacceptable because it is an inferior form of proof relative to the chezkas mamon of whoever has the money? In other words: is rov no proof, or is rov proof, but not proof enough? I refer you back to this post where we discussed the different approaches of the Ktzos and Terumas haDeshen to this question.

If rov is categorically an invalid form of proof, then the type of rov we are dealing with is irrelavant. However, if rov is proof but not proof enough, then perhaps if we had a super-rov, a rov that was as strong as chezkas mamon, then it would make a difference. It seems that this is the Rashbam's position -- a ruba d'isa kaman is such a super-rov that it can help where rov ordinarily fails.

But is that conclusion true or reasonable? Which rov strikes you as more definitive: 1) two of the three pieces of meat before you are kosher, therefore any piece you take is likely to be kosher (ruba d'isa kaman); 2) the child of a couple living together as husband and wife is most likely the offspring of the husband because he is the most likely to have had relations with his wife (ruba d'leisa kaman)? In the former case we know with certainty that there is at least one piece of non-kosher meat in the mix and are just playing the odds that any piece chosen is not that piece; in the latter case, there is no reason to assume the wife had relations with anyone other than her husband -- in fact, the rov tells us that this probably never happened! It seems, as R' Akiva Eiger writes (Kesubos 13) that the exact opposite of the Rashbam's conclusion should be true -- a ruba d'leisa kaman should be more definitive than a ruba d'isa kaman.

Sorry I am so pressed for time, but I will at least leave a mareh makom to R' Shimon Shkop in Sha'arei Yosher 3:1 and 3:3 who addresses himself to this problem.

Monday, February 16, 2009

ruba d'isa kaman / ruba d'leisa kaman

For those getting tired of the emunos v'deyos topics (namely, me), back to the world of gemara. Reuvain sells Shimon an ox. After purchase, Shimon discovers that the ox will not plow his field, so he comes back to Reuvain and demands a refund for his lemon. Most people buy oxen to plow, and this ox is clearly not in the mood to work. Reuvain responds that the ox is certainly usable -- it can be shechted and made into a nice steak dinner. It's not his fault that Shimon (like most people) insists on using his ox only to plow, and he (Reuvain) never agreed to those terms in the contract. Rav holds in this case a refund is owed because we determine the meaning of the contract based on rov and rov people buy oxen to plow. Shmuel, however, disagrees and holds "ain holchin b'mamon achar harov" (B"K 46, B"B 92).

Rashbam (Baba Basra 93a d"h d'hu gufei) writes that Shmuel's principle only holds true when we speak of a ruba d'leisa kaman, a rov based on behavior of the masses.

Tosfos in a number of places implies that Shmuel's principle applies even to a ruba d'isa kaman, a rov based on the statistics before us. For example, the gemara (Kesubos 15) writes that a foundling in a city where the majority of the residents are Jews is treated as a Jewish child even with respect to monetary halachos like returning a lost object to him. Tosfos questions how this gemara fits Shmuels dictum that "ain holchim b'mamon achar harov". In this case we are not dealing with a behavioral phenomenon like why people buy oxen but rather we are dealing with the statsitical liklihood of a child being Jewish based on an accounting of the residents of a specific city (see Ch. R' Akiva Eiger Sanhedrin 3b for another Tosfos along these lines).

According to the Rashbam, there is no question from this gemara on Shmuel. Shmuel rejected only ruba d'leisa kaman as proof, but not ruba d'isa kaman.

My son and I were discussing last night what the point of disagreement between Tosfos and the Rashbam might be. Floor is open for comments before my 2 cents get thrown in.

philosophical proof vs. experience

Imagine a researcher sitting in his lab doing all kinds of equations to try to determine what the best shape of a new airplane wing should be. While he is doing his research, an engineer is outside also working on the same goal by building test wings in a hanger and flying planes with test robots to see what will work. The engineer suddenly runs into the lab and tells the scientist that he discovered a great new wing design that is better than anything that has ever been invented. As he describes it, the researcher begins to scribble equations.

"Wait one second," the researcher interrupts. "There is no way that design can work. Just look here at my equations and you see that this is impossible..." and he continues scribbling away.

"But," stammers the engineer, "Forget your equations -- I built that wing and saw my model flying in the sky with it!"

When it comes to the mitzvah of emunah some people may think that we should start with philosophical analysis rather than rely on tradition. Their model is no less than the Rambam's Moreh Nevuchim. Isn't it strange that the great ba'alei machshava of the past few hundred years have all move away from this approach and in fact have discouraged this type of thinking? If we could philosophically prove that we are correct, wouldn't that be better than accepting our mesorah and leaving it at that?

The answer is of course not and all we need to do is think about our researcher and engineer to know why. No matter how much evidence there is for any fact, someone will always come along and debate the point or claim that the proof is insufficient. You can scribble and debate equations from today until tomorrow, but there is no proof better than a real flying airplane. If you see the plane in the air, you know the design works -- the fact that you may have a kashe on the equation does not change reality.

R' Tzadok haKohen (Sefer haZichronos, p. 53) writes that the Rambam only wrote what he did to fulfill "da mah she'tashiv" to the philosophers of the word. Had Aristotle been present at ma'amad Har Sinai, had Plato seen the man falling in the desert, had any great thinker seen kriyas yam suf, the be'er, etc., do you think they could even have a hava amina that Torah is not true? Of course not.

When you read all kinds of debates on blogs as to whether there is or is not evidence of Torah being given or all kinds of stuff, it's like a debate over whether the equation for the airplane wing will work. Torah committed Jews have been flying using these wings for thousands of years -- we know they work. When someone comes along and says ma'amad har Sinai did not happen, it's like the researcher saying, "You could not possibly have built that plane because my equation proves that it cannot exist". We know about ma'amad Har Sinai because we were there -- our parents heard about it from their parents and our nation has carried this story as part of its heritage for thousands of years.

Yes, there is an idea of "dah mah sha'tashiv" for those who have not seen the plane in flight, but that is no substitute and certainly no better than that which we know to be fact based on our historical experience. Nebach, some people forget the experiences of their roots and need to look elsewhere for validation, but that situation b'dieved does not a l'chatchila become.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

emunah and yediya recap

Update to previous post(s): there seems to be some confusion as to how R' Shach and R' Chaim could explain the idea of emunah as belief in that is beyond the rationally justifiable when the Rambam uses the word "leyda", to know. The answer is that the Rambam also uses the term "l'ha'amin", e.g. in Sefer haMitzvos he refers to "ha'amanas Elokus". Question: does the Rambam therefore mean that faith is rooted in "yediya" or "emunah"?

R' Chaim's answer is a classic Brisker "tzvei dinim" sevara. The Rambam meant both. The mitzvah that demands that we acknowledge and accept certain yediyos, factual knowledge about G-d that any rational person can see is true. There is an additional level to the mitzvah that demands that we go beyond that basic mininal standard and believe even that which we cannot justify.

I wanted to add a mareh makom to the sefer Derech Mitzvosecha of the Tzemach Tzedek, p. 44b (mitzvah 25 os b) who spells out exactly these two levels of the mitzvah based on the two formulations of the Rambam, ayen sham.

Also, to add another mareh makom, the idea that emunah is innately programmed into our psyche is not a chassidishe vort of R' Tzadok -- it fits perfectly with the Rambam as well. Look no further than the Malbi"m to Shmos 20:1 who echoes almost word for word R' Tzadok's thesis and bases himself completely on the Rambam.

A tangential point: I took my son to a shiur given in these type topics by a talmid chacham and he was amazed -- he had never heard these ideas approached analytically in the way one picks apart a sugya of gemara. "Why don't we learn this in yeshiva?" he asked. Good question -- I told him to ask his Mashgiach. The truth is that you can go through years of yeshiva and come out ignorant of basic tenets of Judaism, which is pretty scary. I don't have a good answer for how to approach the topics systematically (someone needs to write a good collection of sources for high school age kids to learn), but I think it is important for a ben Torah to go through Rishonim and achronim in these areas just like any other area. If you can appreciate why you need to see a R' Chaim in a sugya in Chezkas haBatim, kal v'chomer you should appreciate why you need to see and understand a R' Chaim in the sugya of emunah.

the Derashos haRan on the mitzvah of Anochi

Do you "believe" 2+2=4, or do you know that 2+2=4? Do you believe that you are reading this, or do you know you are reading it? The term belief does not apply to that which we can justify as a factual truth -- these items are knowledge and not belief. As we discussed in a previous post, R' Shach and the Brisker Rav were bothered by the use of the term belief with respect to the existance of G-d when this is a "muskal rishon", a point of knowledge that we know is truthful and can justify.

It seems to me that this question is already alluded to in Rishonim. Chazal tell us that unlike the rest of the Torah which was transmitted by G-d to the Jewish people through Moshe, the first 2 dibros were heard directly from G-d. The Rambam (Moreh 2:33) explains this to mean that the philosophical truths of the existance of G-d and the falsehood of idolatry are facts of knowledge that each and every person is innately capable of apprehending. We are hard wired to understand the fundemental philosophical truth of "Anochi" without a lesson from Moshe Rabeinu just as we are hard wired to understand 2+2=4 without a lesson in number theory.

The Rishonim reject this view of the Rambam. I want to focus on one particular question asked by the Derashos haRan (Derush 9, p. 156 in the edition I am using). If the Rambam is correct, writes the Ran, then the exact opposite conclusion as the gemara presents should logically follow. Which would you demand more proof for: if I told you that 2+2=4, or if I told you that tomorrow is a bad day to wear blue on? Obviously the latter -- the former statement needs no proof and is obvious. If the truth of "Anochi" is so obvious and innately part of any rational person's core of knowledge, then why would the gemara tell us that this truth in particular has to be heard directly from G-d? Articulation by G-d himself to all the people is the highest form of proof possible. Does it make sense to demand that highest burden of proof for a statement that is innately obvious to any thinking person, e.g. 2+2=4, while other statements, e.g. the mitzvah of sha'atnez, that are incomprehensible, are left to be articulated by Moshe? The Ran therefore writes that "Anochi" entails more than beleiving what is innately obvious, i.e. G-d's existance, but encompasses belief in Torah min hashamayim as well.

Let's put aside for now how you might defend the Rambam. The point I want to make is that the Ran essentially is raising the same point as R' Shach and the Brisker Rav, namely, that "Anochi" cannot encompass innate knowledge, "muskal rishon" alone. No matter how you slice it, there is more to the belief demanded by "Anochi" than philosophical exercises alone can deliver.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

the mitzvah of emunah and levels of belief

As mentioned in the previous post, the Rishonim ask how there can be a mitzvah to believe in G--d when the assumption that G-d exists and can command us presupposes accepting the mitzvah itself. For this very reason, writes R' Tzadok haKohen (Tzikdas haTzadik #207), the first dibra of "Anochi" reads as a statement of fact. The Torah is informing us, not commanding, that belief in G-d is part of our essence, something which is natural to every human, and that trait of belief is lost only due to our corruption of a healthy mindset. With this we can understand the striking statement of the Rambam that when we see [deliberate] kofrim we can assume that their souls were not present at Sinai and they are not truly of the stock of the Jewish nation. Everyone who is Jewish inherently is a believer.

Clearly there are degrees and levels of belief, but there seems to be some confusion as to what is meant by levels of belief. There is no shiur for the mitzvah of emunah -- it is not enough to say I am 51% certain that G-d exists, and "rubo k'kulo" so I am yotzei the mitzvah. The use of the word "da'as" by the Rambam is a giveaway that we are dealing with knowledge, which implies (or may even mean) belief that is certain and true, not just probable. R' Elchanan writes (Agados al Derech haPeshat end of Yevamos 12:10-11) that emunah must exceed even the level of certainty we have that what we see with our eyes is true! The eyes can be deceived, but emunah represents an acknowledgements of unquestionable truths.

So what do we mean by levels of faith? A mashal: I like music and can appreciate that Mozart is a brilliant composer. But I am just an amateur without even a good ear. Someone who studies at Juliard School for Music may say just as I do that they like Mozart, but their appreciation of Mozart is vastly superior to mine. Does that mean that my appreication is false or that I am less certain of my apprectiation? Of course not! Emunah is like appreciating a symphony or great work of art. There are multiple levels of appreciation each of which is true.

There is an espitimological difference between what we know to be true based on what our minds tell us and what we accept on faith alone, but that difference has no bearing on our certainty in both types of beliefs. The acceptance of the unseen as being as real as that which is before our eyes is the yichud of emes and emunah.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

emunah -- knowledge or belief?

The first of the 10 commandments requires us to believe in G-d. While it may seem paradoxical to command belief -- the assumption that there is a G-d who commands presupposes the mitzvah -- R' Elchanan Wasserman explained that this is not a question. Belief is natural to any individual uncorrupted by the negative influence of environment. Emunah does that require that we create an inclination to believe in G-d -- that inclination is already there. Emunah requires that we don't undermine and undo that inclination.

R' Shach (Avi Ezri, Hil Tshuvah) writes that he was always bothered why the mitzvah is called emunah, belief, when belief in G-d is actually something that any thinking person can accept as the only rational and intelligent conclusion. The proper word to use should be "knowledge", to know G-d, not "belief" (which is in fact the term the Rambam uses, but which is not the way we generally speak of emunah). He writes that he asked this to the Brisker Rav who also asked the same question to R' Chaim. R' Chaim answered that accepting G-d's existance is certainly a logically compelling conclusion to draw and hence can be called "knowledge", but emunah entails far more than that. True emunah begins at the point where knowledge ends. Emunah means going beyond what the mind logically can intuit and accepting religious truth on faith alone.

It seems to me that if this is the definition of the mitzvah of emunah, then R' Elchanan's answer will not work. Going beyond what the mind rationally dictates is not something that is natural. Perhaps R' Chaim simply meant that there are different levels to the mitzvah: a basic level that is fulfilled based on accepting what is intuitively known to be true to the uncorrupted thinker and a higher level which ranges beyond that (however, it does not sound to me like this is what R' Chaim was driving at -- take a look!)

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

a few Netziv's on Parshas Yisro

A few Netziv's on this coming week's parsha that caught my eye: 1) The Torah relates that the Jewish people journeyed from Refidim toward Har Sinai (19:1). Rashi explains based on the Mechilta that the Torah mentions the nation's departure as well as their arrival to teach that just as the arrival at Sinai was done with the purpose and intent of receiving the Torah, so too, the departure was done with this same intent. Why, asks the Netziv, does it matter to us what intentions were present when the camp departed and travelled toward Sinai? The answer is that this journey was a preparation for the event of kabbalas haTorah, and the Torah wishes to teach us that the greater the effort invested in preparation, the greater the reward from the experience. In other words, even as monumental and significant an event as kabbalas haTorah, during which the souls were literally knocked from the bodies of the Jewish people with each utterance of Hashem, would still fail to make the impression it did if not for proper preparation beforehand! 2) The Torah says to encircle the mountain of Sinai, but also, to be precise, says "v'higbalta es ha'am" (19:12), literally, to encircle the people. Netziv explains that the people camped in concentric circles, with Ahron closest to the mountain, kohanim second, leaders and gedolim further back, etc. each group according to rank. There are madreigos and levels in klal Yisrael and each person needs to find his/her rightful place in relation to Har Sinai for a proper kabbalas haTorah. For example, if a person decides to become a ba'al tshuvah and plunges into Likutei Moharan before learning Shulchan Aruch, such a person is camped in the wrong place. 3) Rashi explains (19:18) that the "kol chazak" of Har Sinai was unlike other kolos which diminish in strength and volume as the note is held -- here the kol intensified. What is the meaning of this miracle? Netziv explains that the kol is a hint to the Torah sheba'al peh, which as we move further from Sinai has grown and grown, each generation adding chiddushim and insights and revealing more Torah than was known in previous doros.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

the bracha on man

The Rama m'Pana famously suggests that the bracha on man was "hamotzi lechem min hashamayim", implying that the man was a type of bread. The gemara (Brachos 48) writes that Moshe Rabeinu composed the first bracha of birchas hamazon, again suggesting that the man required bentching even though it was not made from the 5 species of wheat. Perhaps, as R' Yosef Engel suggests in his Gilyonei HaShas (Brachos 48), if the person eating man thought of bread the man not only tasted like bread but in essence assumed the quality of being bread.

Others sources disagree. The Jewish people complained that "nafsheinu y'veisha ein ko, bilti el haman eineynu" (BaMindab 11). What does it mean to have a "dried up soul" thanks to the man? The Zohar asks why the fasting of Yom Kippur is described as "inuy nefesh", an affliction of the soul -- does the soul suffer because the body is deprived of food? The Zohar amazingly answers that the soul does suffer because it is deprived of the opportunity to make brachos. Here too, it was because the man required no bracha that the Jewish people complained that it endangered their souls. (Cited in a footnote to the Tiferes Yosef.)

neiros shabbos

Sorry for the lack of posting - I'm adjusting to the new schedule and workload.

The gemara (Shabbos 23b) writes that if one has only enough funds for either kiddush or Shabbos candles, Shabbos candles take precedence because they serve to enhance shalom bayis. The Nishmas Adam (klal 68) asks: why do we need the justification of shalom bayis as a reason to favor hadlakas neiros?-- there is a much simpler reason to do so. The gemara in many places has a rule that "ain ma'avirin al hamitzos" -- one cannot pass over and ignore one mitzvah in order to fulfill another one. Since the mitzvah of lighting shabbos candles applies while it is yet day and the mitzvah of kiddush does not apply until night, withholding funds necessary for the earlier mitzvah of hadlakah to fulfill the later mitzvah of kiddush would violate this well known principle.

R' Yosef Engel answers that the mitzvah of hadlakah itself in essence applies only at night, but since it is impossible to light candles at night they are lit earlier on Friday afternoon. The hadlakah is just a hechsher mitzvah to establish candles burning on Shabbos. If not for the justification of shalom bayis this hechsher of lighting would be no more significant than the hechsher mitzvah of buying wine for kiddush.

This answer of R"Y Engel contradicts a Brisker torah which we discussed before on the blog. The Rambam records the mitzvah of hadlakas neiros Shabbos both in chapter 5 as well as in chapter 30 of hilchos Shabbos. The Brisker Rav explained that there is no redundancy in the Rambam; rather, there is a double kiyum mitzvah in lighting shabbos candles. The Rambam mentions hadlakah as an aspect of kavod Shabbos, of preparing and welcoming the Shabbos by our actions before Shabbos, and the Rambam repeats the need for candles to be burning as an aspect of oneg Shabbos, the mitzvah of enhancing Shabbos on Shabbos itself. If this is correct than the lighting of candles on Friday is not just a hechsher mitzvah to have light at the table on Shabbos, but is a mitzvah act in itself.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

trei u'trei and the nature of chazakah

The gemara (Baba Basra 31b) has a dispute between Rav Huna and Rav Chisda how to handle two pairs of witnesses that contradict each other's testimony, e.g. one pair of witnesses say Reuvain borrowed $100 from Shimon and one pair of witnesses says that Shimon was with them all day and never took any loan. Rav Chisda says that since one of the two pair are definitely lying, we assume that both sets of witnesses are liars until proven otherwise and we can no longer accept any of their testimony going forward. Rav Huna disagrees and says that since we don't know in fact who the liars are, both sets of witnesses retain their believability going forward and can testify in other cases.

What is the focal point of the dispute?

Achronim debate whether the principle of chazakah resolves underlying doubt (birur) or is just a legal fiction (hanhagah). For example, the principle of chazakah tells us that where a mikveh was measured and found to have the proper volume of water, we assume that the status quo of the mikveh's kashrus continues until proven otherwise. Does that chazakah mean that we have no doubt that the mikveh has the proper volume of water until we measure it and discover otherwise, or does the chazakah simply mean that although there may be a doubt as to how much water the mikveh actually has, we legally must accept it as kosher until proven otherwise? Has chazakah resolved our doubts, or told us that the mikevh is legally acceptable despite our doubts?

Shu"T Oneg Yom Tov (Y.D. 71) writes that this issue underlies the debate between R' Huna and Rav Chisda. Witnesses are assumed to be testifying truthfully until we know otherwise -- they have a chezkas kashrus. If chezkah means that there is no doubt as to the veracity of the witnesses' statements, then if one of the pairs is definitely lying, clearly we do have a doubt and must invalidate both pairs. But if chazakah is just a legal fiction that allows an assumption of status quo kashrus in spite of our doubts to the contrary, then even if one of the two pairs of witnesses are lying, since we cannot ascetain who the liars are, we cannot invalidate either pair.

more work, less blogging

Since my former employer decided a few weeks ago that they could no longer afford to pay my salary I have had a chance to blog almost daily while sitting in front of my home PC and sending out resumes. That is about to change because tomorrow I start a new opportunity as a consultant for a new employer. No idea yet what the hours will be, but from the interview I gathered that there is much they need done and to expect a long day. Given the economic condition I'm happy to have a job, whatever the hours and demands. Reworking my daily schedule will take some getting used to, so content and posting may be light. Kol ha'haschalos kashos, but I consider myself fortunate to be re-employed.

There are a lot of people out of work these days and I can tell you from firsthand experience that job hunting is tough and the market (at least in NY) is very competitive. There are many, many applicants for every open position, and employers are being flooded with resumes. Because of the oversupply of good workers and scarcity of jobs, salaries have plummeted. If you know of a job opening, chances are there is someone in your community whose resume you can submit. Trust me, that person will be very grateful.