Friday, May 22, 2009

A business brokerage idea

The following is a real post that I got in my email today:

Chosson moving to Eretz Yisroel for a half year, looking for a yissachar-zevulun relationship. I spend the day learning Torah and writing, you sponsor and gain the spiritual reward and zechusim. Any/all published works will appropriately mention the Zevelun sponsor.

I spoke about this with my husband, and he sees a business possibility matching the Yissachar-wanna-bes with the Zevulons and collecting a finder's fee. I would foresee no problem getting the former category, but I would not anticipate an overwhelming response for the latter. Hey, we have a future gadol hador to market, and I have the perfect slogan: "Don't you wish you could have come in on the ground floor for Rav Moshe? Now you have the opportunity to do so! This is the ultimate IPO, or rather an IPOG-- the Initial Public Offering for a Gadol!" We don't have to have only one Zevulon; we could sell shares! My son learns 12-16 hours a day, so we could sell various time slots. Even paying for his sleeptime would be worthwhile, as his sleep is really hachana for learning. For all those who don't know me: I am KIDDING about selling the Torah learning, but I am not exaggerating the number of hours.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

A zero balance could really cost you

See Ezzie's explanation of the Chase credit card zero balance statement, and remember the rule that if something seems too good to be true, that's because it isn't. Add your 2 cents (pun intended) to the discussion on finance charges at

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Misleading but not technically false advertising

I recently posted on the deceitful practices some advertisers adopt in:

Today I heard of another couple of tricks. I spoke with someone who was approached by the latest addition to advertising media in the area. He insisted he never agreed to be in but only sent in his ad design because the person asked him to do in order to show him "how it would look" in the magazine. But the publisher went ahead and not only inserted the ad but sent him a bill for running the ad based on a commitment for a 10 time run. On top of that the advertiser in question was given the distinct impression that 20,000 copies of this magazine are distributed. I was incredulous because I had spoken to this person who admitted that he only prints 500 to 1000 copies and does not lie to advertisers about the circulation. Well, to prove his point, the advertiser forwarded the email he received. I quote it below with the identifying names and prices removed:

"I am proud to let you know we have doubled in size since the last issue.. . .
I hope you are now ready to move forward. Its [sic] only $--to get listed and gets distributed amongst 20,000 affluent families here in the 5 Towns."

Very clever sneaky manipulation of the numbers, don't you think? If I would send out similar letters, I could claim that Kallah Magazine gets distributed among 100,000 affluent families in the 5 Towns, Queens, Flatbush, Borough Park, and Teaneck (not to mention the occasional foray into Baltimore and Passaic). But I don't do that, and I also don't claim to be the #1 anything even though is often the #1 result on a Google or Yahoo search for "kallah."

Free Kayaking starting this week

I've never been there, so I would welcome comments and observations from those of you who have, as I am including this place among the free and low cost attractions people can go to in the NY area this summer.

The New York City Downtown Boathouse is located in the Hudson River Park, and has a permit from the Hudson River Park Trust to operate in the park. For the 2009 season all locations of the boathouse will be open from May 16th to October 12th. The weekday evening programs at Pier 96 will run from June 15th to August 28th. All activities at the boathouse are completely free. Equipment is provided. You must know how to swim, wear a life jacket, abide by the rules, and sign the liability waiver. You have a choice of three locations on the Hudson River: Pier 40 at Houston Street, Pier 96 at 56th Street, and 72nd Street in Riverside Park. All 3 locations offers Walk up Kayaking on weekends, holidays, and occasional weekday evenings from 5PM-7PM. Piers 40 and 96 facilities include a changing room and lockers, though you are advised to bring your own lock. Pier 40 offers showers, while Pier 96 only offers running water. The 72nd Street location lacks both changing rooms and running water. The site to go to is

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Borrowing trouble is not normal

Remember that Rashi -- the one in which he refers to the rabbi who answered the question, why did Hashem go ahead with his creation if he knew that he would be disappointed in man? I looked it up. The Rashi is on Bereishis 6: 6 on the words, vayitatzev el libo, meaning that Hashem, so to speak had sadness of heart because of the wickedness of (hu)man(ity). Rashi says, "and this is what I wrote as the answer to a heretic who asked Rabbi Yohoshua ben Karcha: 'You concede that the Holy One Blessed Be He sees what will happen?' He answered, 'Yes.' He [the heretic]proceeded to say, 'Doesn't it say that He had sadness of heart?'[Why should he experience sadness if he knew what would happen?] The rabbi then asked if the heretic ever had a son born to him. He answered "yes." The rabbi asked 'And what did you do? [when the baby was born]' He answered, 'I was happy and celebrated with others.' the rabbi said, "And did you not know that he is doomed to ultimately die?' The heretic responded 'At the time of joy, we are joyous, and at the time of mourning, we mourn.' The rabbi explained 'such are the ways of the Holy One Blessed Be He; even though it is revealed to him that humanity is set to sin and to be annihilated, he proceeded to create people for the sake of the righteous that are destined to come of them.'

What brought this up? Someone told my daughter that she cried for hours when thinking about the fact that her old dog will soon die. Such a maudlin view is the very antithesis of the Rashi above. You see, the Torah assumes that people do not dwell on the fact that, yes, all mortal beings will die at some point but live in the present and celebrate the joy each moment brings even when they know that life is transient.

Hey, we missed Mother's Day in Israel

I wanted to double check the standard spelling for the day marked today. Some of this holidays are written apostrophe s and others as plural. Wikipeda shows it as apostrophe s. 2 interesting points I found there. For the right-wingers who equate all secular holidays with avoda zara, there actually is a basis to say that for this day.
Historical antecedents

Different countries celebrate Mother's Day on various days of the year because the day has a number of different origins.[citation needed]

One school of thought[who?] claims this day emerged from a custom of mother worship in ancient Greece, which kept a festival to Cybele, a great mother of Greek gods. This festival was held around the Vernal Equinox around Asia Minor and eventually in Rome itself from the Ides of March (15 March) to 18 March.

The ancient Romans also had another holiday, Matronalia, that was dedicated to Juno, though mothers were usually given gifts on this day.

As for the date in Israel, it gives it as the 30th of Shvat. From the year I spent in Israel, I have absolutely no recollection of that date being anticipated with the same type of stuff that pops in stores in late April and May in the states. But, of course, I wasn't doing family shopping then.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Have Shidduch Resumes become so common that they are passe?

See Frum N' Flipping: Shidduch Resumes are out, Interactive DVDs are in

Avoiding Debt for Dummies

See Ezzie's posted video.

When did Jews adopt the Catholic notion of holy water?

Just got the following in my email:
The amazing segulah (talisman) of chai roitel mashka has proven itself over and over again. Hundreds of people singles searching for their bashert, the infertile yearning for a child, the sick hoping for a cure have found salvation after they contributed chai roitel mashka at the burial place of Rabbi Shimon bar Yichai on Lag Baomer, the day of his passing.hai Roitel Mashka is a specific amount of liquid (refreshing spring water, in our case) that is offered throughout the day to thousands of visitors who flock to Miron. The segulah has been written about in various seforim. The Kedushas Zion, Rav Benzion Halberstam of Bobov, encouraged his constituents to give chai roitel, assuring them that they would benefit tremendously.o many miraculous events have been ascribed to the chai roitel segulah. Contribute chai roitel mashka this lag baomer Perhaps your miracle will be next!

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

The Survey Says . . .

See some of the results posted by Ezzie at
You may pick up some tips and think twice about going for the bigger house.

From overwhelmed novice to expert writer in just 2 days!

A couple of days ago I received an email from a mother who said she was feeling overwhelmed at the prospect of making her first wedding and wanted to know where she can pick up the magazine. I answered her by telling her that the magazine does not go to her neighborhood, but she can read it online in PDF format at where she could also find listings of gmachs and vendors, as well as wedding advice. This did not seem to register, as she came back with asking again where she can pick up the print magazine. I pointed out that even if she went to an area where it was distributed before Pesach, it is highly unlikely that she would still find a copy now. But here's the real twist: she wanted to know if she can get paid for writing for the magazine as she feels confident she could write a book once the wedding is over. This is only 2 days after sounding like she is in desperate need of guidance! Her claim to expertise is based on the weight of her notebook (in which mothers usually write down their lists of vendors, gmachs, and, possibly their guest list). I am just amazed that a person can claim such expert status that she deserves to be paid for writing about what she's done a mere 2 days after having declared herself to be completely overwhelmed. I suppose I could have referred her to the posting looking for wedding writers for the web with payment of up $20 bucks per article. Right, there is really big money in this type of writing.

Monday, May 04, 2009

You don't have to be Jewish to spend a lot on a wedding

I just readOne Perfect Day: The Selling of the American Wedding by Rebecca Mead
which asserts that the the Bridezilla concept is really a product of the wedding industry's escalation of the wedding affair. The reviews are mostly positive, though someone who works in the wedding in the industry who resents the book gave it a one star review and does not even recant after admitting she did not read the book. The comments on the reviews get fairly impassioned on the topic of Americans being manipulated into spending more and more weddings as expenses mount with the seller's constant allusion to how you cannot put a price tag on the once-in-a-lifetime event. Wedding vendors do come across as manipulative and even derisive of the brides who represent so many dollar signs for them. Read the reviews at h
ttp:// Also you can see the Divrei Chaim's take on the term "traditionalesque" that the author identifies in the wedding industry at

Friday, May 01, 2009

Ranting: Why people treat advertising people like vermin

The reason is that some say anything just to get the advertiser's money and don't care about keeping their word. So someone who puts a directory took a longer hiatus than he planned or told his advertisers. More than one of them told me they expected their ads to come out in 2008 not at the end of April 2009. Others, clearly expected the directory to be out at the very beginning of 2009 or at the very least before Pesach, as you can tell by the wording of their ads. And then there are ad for businesses that were defunct long before their ads came to the target audience. All these ads were paid for, as one of the advertisers told me, the credit card is charged first thing. The owner of the directory does not bother to inform the advertisers that he is holding their money for 8 months to a year or even longer before their ads would see the light of day.

Others play games like charging the credit card given twice, then offering to make good on the charge with additional ads but refusing to refund the money.

So people have all these negative encounters with advertising media and assume anyone in the business must be crooked. Consequently, I am often greeted with overt hostility when I call a business. Some will even insist that they already had and ad with me when I never had dealing with them at all. Others mistaking my magazine for another do not listen to my actual price quotes before declaring the rates to be too high. That claim is just another symptom of no longer even distinguishing between magazines.

The dishonest ones don't only end up robbing the individual advertisers they cheat but robbing anyone attempting to go about the business honestly of a fair hearing. There are the people who paid top dollar for their ads elsewhere and then claim that that money was wasted and so they will not put their money into any other advertising. Yet, these people always end up going back to the very same advertisers they derided for wasting their money without trying the lower priced alternatives offered. More than that, people who assume that they are dealing with someone in a dishonest business feel they are entitled to take advantage of them by delaying payment, evading calls asking for payment, claiming the check went out a month ago and they will not mail another one, or saying they don't think they should pay for the ad because it didn't bring in the rush of business they had hoped for.

Clearly, "virtue is its own reward," as there is no reward for honesty in business. The new guy on the block expects to expand and make it rich quickly. Unfettered by integrity, a person could get pretty far.