Isaac Kaplan

"Is it any wonder I've got too much time on my hands?"

Tuesday, August 31, 2004

RNC Thoughts, Pt. 1

With all the RNC stuff going on, I guess I just couldn't help it.

1) For the most part, I enjoy following politics. I like seeing both sides, I like seeing them argue issues and everything. But after a while, it gets kinda drab. It's the Repubs reminding you again of the importance of fighting in Iraq. Okay, I agree. And again, the economy doing well. Hey, socialism's a failure, and capitalism is the way to go. But I knew that already. Besides, I can do without my tax dollars going to support "Gay Lollapalooza" or some other extremely worthy cause.

So, watching the RNC, part of me was excited, seeing my team kicking butt (I've always felt like following politics is kinda like following sports, with one major exception. If the Red Sox lose, okay, it stinks, but life goes on. Unless you bet a ton of money on the game, it doesn't affect your life. But if Kerry wins, you're screwed, man!).

But part of me was like, "okay, I've heard it all before." Bush is tougher on national security, no two ways about it. (You think he'll get up there Thursday night and say, "If we're attacked, I'll do everything to defeat the culprits" bit that Kerry gave us?) And following the dot-com bubble burst and 9-11, the economy is doing pretty darn well. And one thing Bush has going for him that Kerry doesn't -- shittos. Positions. Opinions. But I knew that already. So I guess the RNC is for the swing voters, maybe.

2) I think the only thrill I get from watching this stuff is the occasional one-liner and low-blow line at the Dems. Take McCain's speech last night, for example. His charisma level reminded me of another John-- Kerry, to be exact. Yawn. But for that line when he dug Michael Moore, he had the place rocking.

3) Schwarzenegger talking about how great America is- nice, but no effect. Good message. Optimism. Again, I guess it's good for the swing voters (whoever they are), though it doesn't do much for me.

4) I'm not even sure the swing voters exist. Proof is the fact that Bush's poll numbers haven't wavered despite the struggles in Iraq, Abu-Ghriab, and Bush-bashing books all over your local Barnes & Noble. (Something Rush Limbaugh and others constantly get excited about.) I don't think it's testament to Bush's greatness or Kerry's weakness. I think it's because the electorate is as divided as ever. Conservatives are voting for Bush, no matter what happens the next few months. And it doesn't matter if 2 million Swift Boat Veterans come out or if Kerry flip-flops every other minute: the anti-Bush crowd is still voting for Kerry. Sorry, Ralph Nader.

5) And at the end of the day, the few swing voters, whoever they are, are gonna vote for Bush. Any sane person realizes the most important thing here is national security, commonly known as staying alive. Which candidate is tougher on the war on terror? Don't think too hard.

6) Laura Bush was okay, I guess. Not as multilingual as Teresa, and Thank God for that. I'd rather listen to The Chevra than hear Teresa again. Booorrriinggg!

7) So far, Giuliani was the home run, in my book. I love the guy; he's my favorite politician. But that's a blog in and of itself. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Isaac Kaplan Gets a Life!

What can I say? My law school career is underway. I had Orientation the last two days, and tomorrow is the first class. All the fun is on its way. And with apologies to Fred Hickman, I look forward to sinking my teeth into the material. So far, it actually isn't dreadfully boring. Wait. Give me a couple of weeks.

What does it mean for this blog? It means don't expect a new piece every day. I don't know how crazy my schedule will be. It's possible that this blog will be over, if I'm too busy. I guess that's one of the hard parts about having a life. I also hope to occasionally "muse" about Jewish issues with my compadre Barry Katz. Check out his site for more of my materials.

Sunday, August 15, 2004

ANECDOTE OF THE WEEK: You Get What You Kay For

You get what you Kay for

Baseball analysts are suppose to express an opinion, right?
Well, if you are one of the voices on YES and the opinion has anything to do with George Steinbrenner, the answer to the above question is no . . . no . . . no . . . no.
Proof of this was offered Tuesday night (Yankees-Rangers, Ch. 2) when Michael Kay brought up The Boss ripping Joe Torre's decision to play Kenny Lofton in right field Monday against Toronto.
"A lot of people took what George Steinbrenner said as a slight to Joe Torre," Kay said. Kay then reported Torre's response ("He's George. He's going to say things") and praised the manager for the way he handled the controversy.
"So, a situation which could've been volatile with a different manager was diffused instantly by Joe Torre," Kay said.
Fine. But what did Ken Singleton think about all this?
What did he think of Steinbrenner's critique?
Does he think Lofton should play right?
In a true Al-Yankzeera moment, Singleton did not deliver the word on Steinbrenner's rant.
Even Kay, who has been known to spew on his ESPN-1050 radio show, didn't give his take on Steinbrenner. This was predictable. On the radio Tuesday, Kay was content to offer a soliloquy condeming writers for staking out Steinbrenner.
Blame the messenger. Yep, that should score Kay major points in Al-Yank Land.

-Bob Raissman, New York Daily News

A couple of my own points:

Notice Kay's words: "A LOT OF PEOPLE took George's words as a slight." But of course, you don't think so. Right, Michael? I guess as a YES employee, you're certainly not one of the "lot of people."It's not a slight. Just George's way of giving a compliment.

And then there's the Torre praise. Enough already. When you're getting shmeared by George the way he is, of course you won't get mad. You don't bite the hand that feeds you, especially if the hand feeds you the millions of King George

BASEBALL NATION: Rating the Baseball Tonight Analysts

My favorite TV show of all-time? You got it. Baseball Tonight. The scores, updates, highlights, analysis, webgems, I love the show. And they've got different guys on different nights. I really like the fact that they mix it up like that. Sure, they've added features that bug me like "Triple play," but it's still an awesome watch. And I believe that any genuine baseball fan is incomplete without watching this show at least a few times a week.

On to the analysts. I'd like to split them up into three groups: the nerds, the cool ex-players, and everyone else. And by the way, I'll be rating them report-card style.

The nerds:

Peter Gammons: Yeah, c'mon, he knows too much. That's why I call him a nerd. Whether he's telling over some exclusive news he heard from one GM or going through all the "ifs" that need to happen for the Padres to make the playoffs, he knows his stuff better than anyone else out there. Without a question, the best of the bunch.

Tim Kurkjian: This guy's a nerd through and through. From the nasal, shrill-esque voice down to the totally useless info ("That's the first Giant pitcher to get a triple since Brian Hickerson in '95"). But he's a great analyst. Always got something intelligent to say.

The cool ex-players:

John Kruk: It took him till May to realize he was no longer on "The Best Damn Sports Show Period," but he still hasn't improved much. He isn't that funny. And he doesn't really add anything to the show. I could make the same points he makes ("that was a long home run!"). Maybe they've got him just to take up space, in which case he's doing an excellent job.

Rob Dibble: He's got the goatee. He had the tinted glasses. He's the coolest, toughest guy ("If I were Estes, I would've nailed Rocket in the head!") on BBT. But unlike Kruk, he makes a substantial contribution to the show. Does a good job keeping the analysis clear and simple, unlike the nerds. But as a cool guy, can occasionaly get a little too shticky for my tastes.

Everyone else:

Jeff Brantley:
When he first got on, I hated the guy. He was sorta mumbling; sounded like he was eating pretzels while he was talking. But after getting used to it, I realized that he had plenty of smart things to play. Probably the most intelligent ex-player of the bunch.

Harold Reynolds:
Tries to be everything: analytical and super-funny. Personally, I don't think he's that humorous, and his analysis doesn't do much for me. On a 3-game Monday night, you can see him demonstrating how to do a feet-first slide, just in case you were dying to know. I like it better when he's doing the Little League World Series.

As for the lead guys, Karl Ravech is far and away the best. Unlike Brian Kenny, he does the highlights without any annoying shtick. And he knows his baseball better than the other guys. Some of the others have no right putting in their two cents when it comes to the discussions. But I don't mind Ravech at all. Rece Davis, Steve Berthiaume, and Trey Wingo are nice but no effect.

But overall, a great watch. Like I said, a must-watch for anybody who considers themselves a genuine baseball fan.

The Gut Shabbos Nod

So many people out there complain that, in Brooklyn, no one says "Gut Shabbos." There have been letters about this in Jewish Press for the longest times. And the ridiculous cop-out teirutzim get worse and worse each time (e.g. the dread of Shabbos, we don't want the cholent to get cold, etc.).

My proposal to help solve the problem: have people give each other gut shabbos nods instead of saying it.

Whatever the reason is for not saying it, there's less of an excuse now. If someone's insecure and shy, the nod will suit them a lot better. If it's too much of a pain and takes to long to actually say "gut shabbos," the half-second gained by just nodding will prove to be indispensable, especially in keeping the cholent warm. And all those snobs out there will have to make sure to keep their heads firm and not budge, to keep the condescension at its fullest.

Also, you can adjust the nod depending upon how friendly you are with the guy you're greeting. If you don't know him at all, you just give a slight movement. But if it's your good buddy from high school that you haven't seen in years, you can give him quite a nice, energetic headshake (aka the ol' BS nod)!

Also, I was walking to shul this week and noticed that many of the non-greeters pass me by, look me over, then walk away. I'm not sure why they look me over. Do they think they know me from somewhere? Are they waiting for me to tell them "gut shabbos"? Maybe they don't like my tie?

As per the second possibility ("are they waiting for me tell them gut shabbos?"), again, the cleverness of the shabbos nod is in all its glory. In Brooklyn, I'm never sure if someone's minhag is to say gut shabbos or not. So I'll often wait for them to say it. After all, if someone can't stand saying gut shabbos to someone, why should I ruin their day with my greeting? At least if the other person says "gut shabbos," I know they're cool with it.

But with the gut shabbos nod, why stare if you can just nod?

Friday, August 13, 2004

Another Argument for BS: Putting the Ball in Your Court

I was discussing this issue with a friend of mine, and he presented another argument in terms of BSing. He basically said that by BSing on the first date, putting on a good show and not showing too much of your personality, you're increasing your chances of getting the "yes" and that way give yourself some more leverage and "power" in the relationship.

After all, there are certain norms that are expected on the first date. You show up in a suit, the parents sit you down and interrogate you, and you kiss up and play along. It's a formal atmosphere, and acting formally is what's expected. Sometimes it's kind like a business meeting or interview. You'll let a little bit of your personality show, but you certainly won't be yourself.

My take? I think it depends upon a few factors. We're assuming that the guy and girl are taking the first date as seriously as everyone else. Sometimes, there can be a mutual feeling of "alright, cut the crap" and then everyone will just be themselves. And one person i know specifically asked for a casual first date. So if it's a casual atmosphere we're looking at, then if someone acts a bit wacky on the date, then that will not be held against him as much as it would on a formal date. Besides, the whole "First Date: Casual or Formal" issue is a blog in and of itself. Don't be surprised to see that one up here soon.

Also, it depends upon how strong and unique the guy or girl's personality is. You have some people who are really quirky, have strong opinions, unusual senses of humor, and other traits that, if the average bystander casually saw, would lead them to think that this guy is nuts. And there are those who are more pareve. Okay, they have their set of beliefs and interests, but they have a more mainstream personality.

Some may say, "what do you mean? Everybody's different!" True, but some people just do whatever is normal and expected by others, and avoid anything that will make them stick out. So there isn't much to them. And even those with more unique traits may not be as expressive or outspoken as others.

Anyway, this distinction is important in that someone with a more pareve personality can get away with being themselves on a date. Nobody's gonna think they're a wack-job or anything like that. But if someone is quirky to the point where they might give off that impression, then the argument for putting the ball in your court holds more water.

Thursday, August 12, 2004

First Date: Be Real or BS?

So, let's say it's your first time meeting the girl you've been set up with. You did your research, she's an amazing girl, great personality, lots of friends, not your typical Brooklyn girl (who is?), woderful family, etc. And maybe you even had a phone call for a little while. You came to her house, shmoozed with the parents, argued with the mom about whether you need a drink or not ("You're getting something to drink! What do you want?"). Now you're in the car, and the fun begins (lots of it!). How do you act?

Well, you can put on a show. Instead of being yourself, (and possibly scaring the girl if you're quite crazy) you ask a bunch of pareve questions. You know how it goes, I get nauseous just thinking about them. Who are your siblings? Did you enjoy your year in Israel? How do you like your job? You live on Ave. J? Maybe you know Shmuyga Jones? He's my dad's best friend from high school. And so it goes. You don't dare crack a joke, because maybe the girl won't think it's funny. You throw in a couple of cliches from Fred Hickman's handbook (see the Yankee-hating piece) just to sound with-it, and maybe talk about the news or some pop-culture phenomonon so you don't look too spaced.

And of course, make sure you sound like you live in fantasy-land. I love my yeshiva, it's the greatest place in the world. Me and my friends are very shtark. And I love my shul. The davening there is so serious, and no one talks during chazoras hashas. Oh, and before I forget to mention it, my Dad is the biggest tzaddik in the world. I just thought you should know that.

Or you can just be yourself. Do your thing, crack your crazy jokes. Say whatever's on your mind. And say how you feel about all sorts of things, whether it's positive or negative. More drastically, you can even let on that you're not perfect. And give off the idea that you're (gasp!) not the greatest thing since sliced bread.

Most people's first reaction would be, of course you should be yourself! Why should you fool the other person? Why should they have to wait awhile till they see the real you? Besides, it's much easier to be yourself and have a good time.

But do you want to potentially turn the guy or girl off? Do you want to show them all your shortcomings right off the bat?

There's something to be said about BSing. Sometimes, only after an emotional bond has been formed, can someone tolerate their partner's shortcomings.

After all, let's say before you went out with someone, you got all information. Not the BS described above, but the facts. The pros and cons. And with 99.9% of people, the con list is gonna be a turn-off. You'll look at it and say, "I can do better than this."

But after a few dates, when there's some emotional connection, it's easier to look past a few cons and focus on the strengths of the relationship.

And like many other things, there's a middle road. Not to be totally pareve, not to be totally yourself. Is that worth pursuing?

To be continued.

Monday, August 09, 2004

Hitting the Wall

After a few months of heavy, non-stop dosages of the wisdom of Isaac Kaplan, I've hit a wall and run out ideas. As a result, I am vacationing for the next few days in an effort to air my brain out.

But seriously, all is well. It's just that I'm starting school next week and want to get in some fun while I can. Check out Barry Katz's site in the meantime.

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

More on Rabbeim: Cold as Ice Ain't Nice

"But you've been cold to me so longI'm crying icicles instead of tears"

This is a shailah somewhat similar to the one discussed at length a while back. Is it better for a rebbi/rav/rosh yeshiva to be cold or warm? I'm gonna start off by making the case for each side, and then follow with my opinion:


a) It's good as a preventative measure, to keep the rebbi-talmid relationship from truning into a buddy-buddy one.

b) Some people aren't interested and will just find the warmth to be annoying.


a) Talmidim feel a much stronger connection to a warm rebbi; the fact that they feel he gives a damn about them may very well inspire them to improve.

b) Talmidim feel more comfortable talking about and discussing personal issues with a warm rebbi.

c) In today's era of thin skin and emotional problems, people have more of a need for a warm, caring rebbi.

With "c" in mind, I find it hard to make a case for a Rebbi or Rabbi today to be cold. More than ever, people need the ability to hook up with a talmid chacham. Unfortunately, many people today just don't give a darn about doing the right thing. So for a rabbi to say "I'll wait for him to come up to me" is not going to accomplish much. We need Rabbeim to reach out to the masses.

And I think a Rebbi can be warm without being to shticky or too much of a buddy. Similarly, a rebbi can be warm without being overbearing or too annoying. A common sense approach would be helpful.

Additionally, these days it may be better to err on the side of too much warmth than on side of too much coldness.

I would go so far as to say that cold Rabbeim should be Roshei Kollel, and that's it. Only when someone has gone that far through the system is warmth unnecessary. Even if someone has great intelligence, I think the drawbacks outweigh the positives.

And granted, you might say that some people do better with cold rabbeim than with the warmer variety. I just don't see it, however. I've been to colder yeshivos, and some guys there were into it, but I think there's more of a passion and more sincerity among guys from warmer environments. I've often found the cold approach to leave people with an emotionless, cynical edge. And what's good about that?

BASEBALL NATION: Why I'll Miss Murph

In many years from now, we'll be telling our grandkids about a very different age of baseball broadcasting.

We'll be telling them of play-by-play guys who (gasp!) didn't have a cheesy, "signature" home run call in order to appeal to the lowest common denominator of fans. We'll tell them about a time when shtick was not a prerequisite to landing a broadcasting job. Someone once asked Murphy why he didn't have a home run call. "Each home run is different," the Murph replied. Talk about a passion for the game, not the ego.

Speaking of which, we'll be telling them of broadcasters who were truly passionate about the game, not just passionate about one team or about King George's checkbook. Gary Cohen said that Murphy treated a meaningless Mets game in August like it was the 7th game of the World Series. More than just passion, that's called taking your job seriously.

And even though Murphy kinda lost it near the end (calling Vladimir Guerrero "Pedro" and calling pop-ups "near homeruns"), there was still an air of professionalism around him that never left. I was a Yankee fan throughout the '90's, but I knew there was something about Murphy. At least moreso than Sterling and Kay. (Which isn't saying a whole lot, but you know what I mean.)

And when Murph called it quits at the end of last year, it was the end of an era. He will be missed.

Monday, August 02, 2004

MEDIA NATION: Feeding the Feminazis

What can I say? The Weak gets Weaker. It must've been a slow news week over there, so they had to make something out of nothing. And unfortunately, Rav Herschel Schachter, a truly great man, was the victim of the Weak's apparent boredom (I'll be dan l'kaff zchus that it was boredom and not pure stupidity on their part).

Here's what sparked the article:

"The current controversy was sparked by Rabbi Schachter’s comments on whether a woman is permitted to read the ketubah (marriage contract) at a wedding ceremony, as advocated by some on the Orthodox left. Technically, yes, he said, adding that “even if a parrot or a monkey would read the ketubah, the marriage would be 100 percent valid.”

In my humble opinion, it's a fair point. Rav Schechter is basically saying that there's no halachic significance to having a man read the ketubah.

But some feminazi decided to make an issue out of the whole deal, to the point where some whackos have called for Rav Schechter's firing. Here's what she had to say:

"But Blu Greenberg, a founder of the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance, said Rabbi Schachter’s “comparison through innuendo of women to animals falls quite hard on feminist ears, though he may have intended no disrespect.”

Huh? What comparison? Did I miss something? Oh, because a monkey can read a ketubah, that's offensive to women. You know what? I'm a man, and I'm offended! My fellow male up there reading the ketubah-- he's a monkey! That's just a horrible thing to say!

If there was something to the allegations, I could maybe hear the other side. But they're making something out of nothing. And if I were a feminazi, I would keep my big mouth shut. Making such silly statements causes women to lose credibility. If these feminazis were truly reflective of the Jewish woman (and thank God they aren't), then God save us.

I highly recommend Simcha of Hirhurim's take on the matter. Click here. It's really a great piece.

And kudos to Rush Limbaugh for coining the word "feminazi."

Rabbi Y's Shittoh

In my many years of yeshiva, I've yet to hear one positive statement regarding college. It's assur, it's bittul torah, you'll burn for it, etc. I've heard it all; and yes, I still went anyway. What can I tell you?

Anyhow, Rabbi Y's shittoh is quite the contrary: he holds that everyone should go to college! Rabbi Y is a big talmid chochom and so are his sons, who are rabbonim and rabbeim. Yet Rabbi Y, even though he knew they had potential in making a living by being a rabbi or rebbi, had his kids attend Touro. His take? You never know if you'll end up in a situation where perhaps you won't be able to earn a living via the rabbinate/chinuch. And just running your own business can be quite risky. As a result, he felt it best that they go to college and get a degree, where they would learn a skill and thereby increase their chances of getting a good job.

My take on Rabbi Y's shittoh? For most people, I totally agree. But should there be exceptions to the rule? Let's see.

Some people would say that someone who's totally engrossed in learning and is okay with living on a kollel stipend shouldn't go. After all, he doesn't plan on working (okay, maybe he'll go into chinuch), and considering he'd be in night seder if he wasn't in college, then for him it's bittul Torah.

However, after the guy starts raising a large family and has to put bread on the table, pay medical bills, etc. the kollel stipend may not be enough, unless he has a rich shver or a wife with a very good job (and if they have a lot of kids, her working may not be practical). So at some point, the guy might need a job. And will going into chinuch cover it? After all, many schools are in the red, and some are even behind on the paychecks. So chinuch may not be a solution. And without a rich shver, it's not so easy to just go into business. Besides, with a large family to support, can he afford to wait a while till it takes off?

This is where Rabbi Y's shittoh comes in. If someone has a degree, they have a good chance at getting a decent job, with enough salary to make ends meet.

Okay, but let's say someone has a really good business head. And he has the street-smarts and other tools to succeed in business. Does he really need to go to college?

Or take our kollel guy from before. But give him a rich shver. Does that change a thing?

I'll get there in part 2.

Sunday, August 01, 2004

BASEBALL NATION: The Trades, etc.

a) I really like what the Red Sox did. They had to get rid of Nomar. The guy was miserable there. And what a job they've done with the defense. When Pokey Reese comes off the DL, these guys will have one of the best defensive infields in the league. A far cry from last year. And maybe this will help Derek Lowe (a sinkerballer who relies on solid defense) get back to old form. However, I will miss hearing Jerry Remy talk about Garciaparra. I think this trade puts the Red Sox as favorites in the Wild Card hunt.

b) The Dodgers gave up way too much for Penny and Choi. You can't take a guy like Paul LoDuca and replace him with Brent Mayne. And I don't think they should've gotten rid of Mota. In the playoffs, I would say Mota is a lot more valuable than Penny. Penny's a decent pitcher, but nothing special. Apparently, the Dodgers were hoping to use some of their pieces to land Randy Johnson and Charles Johnson. But even with the acquisition of Steve Finley, the Dodgers were better before the deadline.

c) Meanwhile, whatta job by the Fish, adding two important pieces. Does this give them the wild card? No way. And the division is looking more and more like the Braves. And when the Phils fire Bowa and start playing ball again, and if Benson and Zambrano revive the fading Mets, the Marlins will have their hands full with competition.

d) The Cubbies' offense is loooking real good with Nomar. They've certainly come a long way from the Rey Ordonez era of a short while ago. If this team gets healthy, watch out.

e) The Yankees would've taken Nardi Contreras just to get rid of Jose. He clearly had to go. It'll be interesting to see how he does for the ChiSox.

f) I heard the Yankees might pick up John Olerud. It's always a PR move when the Yanks get an ex-Met. Whether it's Doc Gooden or Jose Vizcaino, you know what the Yanks have in mind. Who's next, Rico Brogna?

g) The Schmets gave up too much for Victor Zambrano. Okay, he's got good stuff. But to say Peterson can make him great? I don't know. You don't give up your top prospect for a medicore player. Shades of Brandon Claussen for Aaron Boone. And in spite of the big HR, I don't know if the deal was worth it. The verdict's still out on Claussen.

h) Another one the Yanks let get away? Wily Mo Pena of the Reds (a guy they traded to bring back Drew Henson). 16 HR in 217 AB's is pretty darn good, but the guy strikes out too often (68 K).

Thoughts on Lubavitchers

I must admit that my thoughts on Chabadskers have changed dramatically over the years. Here's the whole thought process, blow by blow.

When I was younger, my main exposure to Lubavitch was the L'Chaim magazine, that Tzivos Hashem stuff I would get in the mail (We Want Moshiach Now!), and maybe seeing them discussed on the news, especially when the "Rebbi is Moshiach" thing became big. I don't remember any of my rabbeim discussing the Lubavitchers. Maybe they mentioned that Rav Schach had what to say about them, or maybe I heard that from someone else.

Whatever it was, they didn't leave a good impression. Too much Moshiach stuff there. And some of that stuff on the news was a chilul Hashem. Even as a clueless youngster, a lot of the shtick I saw really rubbed me the wrong way. I thought, who are you to say who's Moshaich? Where's your evidence? I also felt like they were trying to convert me to their way of thinking. And one time, our family had a neighbor over who was telling us over all this "propaganda" in trying to get us to believe the stuff. Considering she had a moshiach bumper sticker on her car, she was quite the believer. And her attempts at converting us really ticked me off. And with all this in mind, I came out with the impression that all Lubavitchers are Moshiach-obsessed whackoes.

Many years later, I realized how off the mark I had been. A friend asked me to join him for a Friday night meal at one of his ex-classmates. This guy went to high school with my buddy and later became Lubavitch. So at first, I was reluctant to go there for the meal. Do I really need to hear someone call me an apikores because I don't think the Rebbe is the messiah, I thought to myself. But whatever it was, I ended up going.

Turns out, the whole Moshiach thing never came up. At least until I asked him about near the end of the meal. The guy said something great: I don't really have an opinion; it just isn't a big issue to me. It kinda came as a surprise to me, seeing a Chabadsker who didn't really care about the issue. After that, I noticed more and more Lubavitchers. There were a bunch in my college, another friend had a Lubavitch friend, the guys at Wolf and Lamb, etc. And they all seemed pretty normal.

Interestingly, in addition to the guy mentioned above, I've seen others who've "converted" to Lubavitch. Seems like there's more warmth and appeal to their mehalech than other sects of chassidus. More down-to-earth, more meaningful. After all, when was the last time you saw someone become a Satmar chassid?

I've come to realize that most Lubavitchers are fine people, some of them very sincere in there service of God. Okay, so there are a few vocal whackos and the guy on Kings Highway with the "Welcome Moshiach" sign. But why should I hold the bad impression those guys make against the many fine and normal 'badskers out there?


The Mets are now essentially out of the buyers' market and are focused on next season.

-Peter Gammons, July 27 column