Friday, September 07, 2007


Dedicated to Yiddel ben Fruma for a complete and speedy recovery.
To dedicate a future Table Talk, please send an email.

This is it, the last Table Talk of the year. How do I make up for all the less-than-amazing Table Talks of the past year?

One of the best sources of stories in this space is our daughter Emuna. Born five and a half years ago in Palo Alto, she started kindergarten this week. That means that she’s now wearing the plaid uniform that she envied her sister over the past 2 years. On Tuesday morning, she was up and dressed an hour early, racing down the stairs with such joyous anticipation in her eyes.

“Abba,” she informed me, “I’m going to kindergarten today!”

“Are you really? That’s wonderful. And is that your new kindergarten uniform?”

She beamed and nodded her head. She couldn’t even speak.

In contrast, her older sister Goldie was more serious, a bit apprehensive about entering third grade. She didn’t want to tell me why, but after school she revealed what was going on: “It wasn’t as hard as I thought,” she said. “I saw that whole long list of supplies we needed and thought it was going to be really hard.”

+ + +

A transition into a higher level, a new job, a new relationship is always a wonderful moment of anticipation, maybe a little apprehension.

That’s what’s happening to all of us next Wednesday night, Thursday and Friday. It’s a chance to start anew. But you’ve got to get your uniform and supplies ready.

Then you have two jobs:

1. End this year well
2. Start next year right

Did you ever go to a movie or read a book that was pretty good or even great until the end, and the ending was bad and it soured the entire story for you?

I remember thinking that about Born on the 4th of July. Great story, weak ending. That’s how I’ll always remember it.

On the other hand, did you ever have a humdrum meal that ended with an awesome dessert, leaving quite literally a good taste in your mouth?

How to end the year well: Look back on the past twelve months. Where did you fall short that you kind of regret? This is the last chance for this year to leave a good taste in your mouth. How you experience this Shabbat will “fix” the past year’s worth of Shabbats. How you treat your loved ones these next few days will “fix” a year’s worth of relationships. Make this last Shabbat and last few days of the year the kind of spiritually-connected uplifting, serene existence that you know you have in you, if you only would make a little more effort. Apologize to everyone you need to. Say I love you a few extra times. Go out with a bang, have a strong finish, a great ending.

How to start next year right: Is it really so easy to “fix” the past? Join me for a national call-in class on “How to use the holidays to repair the past and become the kind of person I want to become, (including how to run an amazing Rosh Hashana feast for the entire family)” this Monday night September 10 at 7pm PDT/10pmEDT. Cost will be $10 ($5 for teachers and students, free for Helkeinu members and JSL members). Registration required; to register, please send an email to

Writing this Table Talk blog is a particular challenge because the audience is as diverse as can be. If I have written anything in the past that has offended you, bored you, irritated you, annoyed you or in any way failed to inspire you; if you have emailed me and not received a reply fast enough, please forgive me!

Wishing you and your family a sweet, healthy, prosperous and amazing 5768!

L’Shana Tova u’Metuka. May you be written and sealed in the Book of Life.

Shabbat Shalom.

(with thanks to Michael Lipson)

Einstein quote of the week:
"The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them."
- Albert Einstein

Israel fact of the week:
Israel has the highest per capita high tech investment in the world.

New Amazement website launching – sneak preview: – please send your feedback!

Speaking schedule:
September 12-14 - Rosh Hashana – Baltimore/Etz Chaim (“The Un-Shul” for those who want to connect but don’t connect to shul)
September 21-22 – Yom Kippur - Los Angeles/Helkeinu (“The Happiest Yom Kippur of Your Life”)
September 27-Oct 4 – Sukkot – if you are in town, please join us in our Sukka. Good time guaranteed.
October 14-16 – San Francisco area
October 17-18 – Los Angeles

(For details, send an email)

Yiddish of the week:
Gut yahr! – Happy New Year!

Yiddish review - how many do you know?
anee — poor person
koptsen — panhandler
ballaboss — homeowner; layman
nu — various meanings (see archives)
mishpocha — family
mameh — mother
tateh — father
mazal – (MAH-z’l) luck or fortune, as in, “It was good mazal that....”
beshert – (b’shairt) - meant to be, as in “It was beshert that...”
mine eltern – my parents
mine lair-er – my teacher
hamantashen – Haman-pockets
zeigezunt – all the best (said upon parting)
kesher - connection
Ikh volt veln a kave, zayt azoy gut. - I'd like a coffee, please.
...kave mit shmant. – ...a coffee with cream.
...kave mit milkh. – ...a coffee with milk.
...kave mit tsuker. - ...a coffee with sugar.
Di Fir Kashes - The Four Questions
Oy vey! - Good grief!
mensch — a decent person
rachmanos — mercy
neshoma (neh-SHOH-ma) — soul
minig — custom, as in, "Why do you do that?" "It's my minig!"
Gavaltig — wonderful
Oy gavalt — how wonderful (sarcastic)
Azoy gait es! — That’s how it goes!
Shabbos — Cessation; stopping; day of stopping; weekly sabbatical experience
"Gut Shabbos" — "Enjoy your weekly sabbatical experience"
Neshoma — Soul
meshugass — insanity
meshuganeh — insane
kyna hara — no evil eye
shvitz — sweat
shanda — shame
Lechayim! — Cheers!
Pinteleh Yid — the Jewish feeling in the heart of every Jew
Zreezus — zeal
Mkohm — place (pl. mkohmas)
mamalashen — mother tongue
bentch — make a bracha
bashert – meant to be, pre-destined, as in, “He’s my bashert” or “It was bashert that...”
kvetch — complain
kvell — burst with pride
hishtadlus — effort, due diligence; as in, “Do your hishtadlus and let Hashem worry about it.”
Yiddishe kopf — Jewish knowledge and perspective (lit., Jewish head)

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