Friday, July 28, 2017

Sticking Your Neck In

The purpose of this blog is to keep them from nodding off at the Shabbat table. Please print and share, or forward or like it or tweet it.

travel-pillowsDo you travel good?

Is that poor grammar?

OK, let's make it the first question for your table:

What's the difference between "traveling well" and "traveling good"?

If you travel well, you bring an empty water bottle and fill it up after security.

If you travel good, you offer your extra Southwest drink coupons to the people in your row.

So imagine you're on a long flight headed East. You've got to get some rest because you're losing time and in just a few hours it's going to be morning. Oy, just thinking about the jet lag is already making you tired.

If you travel well, you have figured out how to sleep on the plane.

If you travel good, you have figured out how to sleep on the plane without disturbing anyone else.

Big fan of sleeping on the plane here. Nothing like a window seat with a pillow and eyeshades.

But what about the 99% who don't get a window seat?

My father (z'l) used to say that half of jet lag comes from not getting enough sleep while traveling (and the night before).

(Others say that's a myth, but Dad knew all about circadian rhythm, and research suggests he may have been on to something.)

If so, then inventing the perfect vertical sleeping device would help millions of people (not counting college students) and save the economy hundreds of millions of dollars.

(You thought I was joking about college students? Weren't you ever sitting in a long boring lecture and just wishing you could close your eyes inconspicously? I used to fantasize about an L-shaped device that you could sit on and lean back against, giving you a tiny Y-shaped bar to rest your head on. Still looking for that one!)

Here are some contenders for the best vertical sleep tool:

1. The $20 ZZZ-Band (not to be confused with the ZZ-Top band) straps your head to the seat. Sounds funny, but over 2/3 of reviewers think it's great.
2. The $20 Double-Decker inflatable - I'm rather intrigued by this one.
3. I have personally tried this $18 Caldera Releaf neck wrap and like it.
4. Have not tried the somewhat similar $30 Trtl Pillow.

5. Am also intrigued by this interesting $24 Elenker pillow.
6. Moving up to $37, if you don't mind people's stares, try the Cloud Nine.
7. The most highly-engineered is the $56 Kaz Headrest - you have to check this one out.

Well, in the end I decided to try out the popular Travelrest this summer. Will let you know how it goes.

What's your best advice for beating jet-lag?

Finally, for your table:

If you travel well, you ___________________________________.

If you travel good, you __________________________________.

Shabbat Shalom

(PS - yes, the picture above is for real and is clickable if you really must ask)

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Friday, July 21, 2017

Just Say Nu?

The purpose of this blog is synthesis at the Shabbat table. Please print and share, or forward or...

In memory of my father, Dennis Seinfeld, whose 12th yahrzeit was yesterday, a master of the art of friendly negotiation.
and wishing happy birthday to Pinchas in Jerusalem - until 120!

negotiatingLast week's theme ("Yours, Zealously") came with the great Hebrew phrase, bein adam l'chaveiro - anyone remember what that means?*

*Interpersonal ethics.

Here's a follow-up question to stump friends and family.

I like this question not just because it's a stumper - but because the answer teaches you something.

Try asking this question at your table: What's the etymology of "negotiate"?

Here's a clue: the online dictionaries are wrong.

They all say:

Latin for "lack of leisure," from neg- "not"  + otium "ease, leisure."

Lack of leisure? So negotiate means, "work"?

We think not.

Yes, despite what google-translate says.

We think that whoever made that up was guessing and forgot their conjugations.

(Maybe he needed the help of a Roman sentry?)

(That was less random than you think, click the link and you'll see what I mean.)

I'm sure you remember conjugations, despite your heroic attempts to forget all about them.

(And I know you've been wondering for years when you would ever get to use all that high school grammar.)

Conjugations, conjugations, what are conjugations?

Maybe this will jog your memory:

amo, amas, amat (I love, you love, he loves....)

(Yes, that's Latin.)

So the -o ending is first person singular.

What's the neg- in negotiate?

That's easy: negate, negative, etc. — it means "not" or "no".

Ergo, nego means "I say no."

Ergo, negotiation is the art of saying no.

"How much is that hat?"
"200 dollars. But for you, one hundred fifty."
"No, that's too high, would you accept fifty?"
"Fifty? You insult me. This hat is worth far more than that. But maybe I could come down to one hundred thirty, but that's my final price."
"Sorry, still too high for me, beyond my budget, thanks anyway."
"Wait, before you walk away, what is your maximum price?"
"I cannot pay you more than 75."
"75? Are you out of your mind? I might as well pay you to take the hat. Listen, I haven't had a sale all day and I need to make quota. Give me 100 and at least I won't lose too much."
"OK, fine."

The experts say, don't be afraid of a "no" - that's when the fun begins!

How do you succeed at negotiation?

First of all, don't fear it.

Enjoy it.

Great negotiation is a dialectic - thesis, antithesis, and if you stick to it, synthesis.

That's Jewish learning in a nutshell - together we arrive at a closer understanding of the truth.

Second of all, according to Dale Carnegie, there is a rule that most people fail at: know your red lines before you enter the negotiation. Know your bottom dollar, define your limits. If you don't start with your lowest offer in mind, you may end up losing.

Attorneys-at-law are sometimes called counselors. Great ones, like my father of blessed memory, are great counselors. We only see them representing their clients. What we don't see is when they counsel their client. A lot of that counseling has to do with helping their client define that bottom line.

Let's apply these lessons to relationships.

Think about a relationship of yours that's slightly or largely on the rocks.

Chances are, one or both of you are fuzzy about that bottom line.

Which of the following would you judge to be true bottom-line needs as opposed to negotiables?

I need to feel loved.
I need you to be nice to me.
I need you to answer the phone when I call.
I need to feel that home is a safe and nurturing place to be.
I need you to clean your room.
I need you to respect me.
I need to feel respected.

Now, how are you going to get to that synthesis?

Shabbat Shalom

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Friday, July 14, 2017

Yours, Zealously

The purpose of this blog is to let words fly while keeping elbows in check. Please forward / like / tweet or just print and share.

In memory of my father, whose 12th yahrzeit is next week, named "least likely to elbow his way" in his high school yearbook.
(OK, not really, but had they had such category, he would have surely won it.)

Alex Burmistrov fined for elbowing Jared SpurgeonSeveral friends have been in Israel this summer, and one just gave me this report:

On Shabbat we were walking to the Wall from Jaffa Gate, going down the main path that everyone goes down. At the bottom there is a security checkpoint that made everything bottled up. People were lining up to go through. I was really surprised to see these religious families pushing their way past everyone lined up. I guess they felt it was more important to them to get in than everyone else."

What's the take-home message?

So I sent the anecdote to a rabbi-list I'm a member of. I don't know how many rabbis are on the list, possibly hundreds. The responses were interesting.

Some pointed out that there really are two lines, because religious Jews don't have to go through the scanner on Shabbat, and they were simply following protocol. Therefore, they felt that the take-home lesson is to be dan l'chaf zechut - to judge favorably.

Others said that it's wrong even if it was right because it looks bad.

One responded:

We all know their are Jews who don't behave.  If those were my friends who witnessed that, I would explain to them that those people go every single day and are not tourists they have a tight schedule and security lets them right through. It's accepted practice for the regulars to rush through. They may have done it with too much sabra brutality but let it go. It's not right and they should know better but use this as an opportunity to give another Jew a pass.

For your table:

An opportunity to give another Jew a pass, to judge favorably?

Or an opportunity to look in our collective mirror and remind ourselves, "We have work to do, beginning with bein adam l'chaveiro*."?

*Interpersonal ethics.

And if you say, "work to do" - where do you begin?

Shabbat Shalom

Friday, July 07, 2017

Nice Work If You Can Get It

The purpose of this blog is to distract them from the distractions for a day, for an evening, for an hour. Please forward / like / tweet or just print and share.

In memory of R' Meir Zlotowitz and of Aaron Rajman.

Meir-ZlotowitzThank you for all the kind feedback to soft-ground-trail-running-shoes-633x422last week's experimental foray into verse (As Fast as You Can).

(Yes, it was 100% original - so for those who did not enjoy it, seeing that it took me 10 years to write the first one, probably will be another 10 years before the next.....)

Let's begin this week with a rather obvious question for your table:

Why do people run races (and other athletic events)?

Yes, Usain appears comfortable, but is that why he runs?

I suppose we could widen the lens and ask why anybody does anything beyond basic needs and comforts?

We don't usually ask questions like this until after they're gone, and we're left to try to piece together the fragments of a life.

Like Rabbi Meir Zlotowitz, who was buried this week.

The fragments of his life were impactful enough to earn a NY Times obituary (but hardly anywhere else).

He left behind a legacy of over 2,000 books, including the famous Siddur, the Chumash and the famous Shottenstein Talmud, enabling anyone to learn.

He may be responsible for more people learning Torah than anyone in history since Moshe (Moses). And he left the world with over 50 grandchildren.

Then there's 25-year-old Aaron Rajman, murdered this week by an intrudor in his Boca home. Not married, no children, no grandchildren. Here are a few of the fragments of his brilliance.Rajman

Do these two have anything in common, other than the timing of the deaths?

Let's see: Jewish, male, religious....

Hmm. That's it?

Here's one: they both chose non-conventional careers, to follow their bliss.

Zlotowitz made it to the NYT because he had a few decades to follow that bliss and change the world.

Rajman didn't make the Times because he was just starting out. Who knows what he could have done?

Zlotowitz has 2,000 books to speak for him. Rajman has very little, so let's devote the rest of this space to giving him a voice.

“I’m most happy and successful when I can help or at least maybe inspire the people around me."

“If you’re a fighter or not, if you want something, stay at it. Dreams come true even if you doubted it once or twice.”

Which leads to this week's burning question for your table: How do you live an extraordinary life, do you have to choose an unconventional career, like publishing or MMA?

(Don't want to spoil your fun, so I'll put my own answer below.)

Shabbat Shalom

PS - The Gershwin original

A Rabbi's answer: No, but you should be ready to!

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