Category: Odds & Ends

Baruch Mehayeh Meiteim – 2018 Edition

*dust dust dust*

*dust dust dust*


Well, look what we have here.

It…looks like…a website!

Yes, it’s been a long time since I’ve posted anything here, even longer since I’ve been writing. Well, writing long-form, anyway. I realized that I’ve been taking an “easier” way out in moving ideas to Twitter, which while nice for its format has its limitations. I think it’s been better than nothing, but I think it’s time I get back to trying harder.1

And as a nice push for me to get writing again, you’ll notice the website has been completely redone! We’ve got a host, a new theme and new host for faster loading, and SSL if you care about that sort of thing.2

You’ll also notice that the 10 Year Anniversary logo has been replaced with a 15 year one, because that’s how time works. For those who can’t really believe I started 15 years ago, I’ve included a slideshow of how the site has changed over the years.

I don’t anticipate a regular publishing schedule (let’s not get crazy here), but I think I’d like to go back to having this site as a medium for me to develop and work out ideas which have been on my mind.

And there have been many, many things on my mind.

Stay tuned.

Official “Fail Rav” Image Gallery

By now anyone who would find this website should be familiar with the “Facepalm” and “FAIL” memes. The former is usually a response to a stupid or ignorant statement made with earnestness and sincerity, while the latter generally applies to all sorts of blunders. A few years ago I created a kind of portmanteau of the two, specifically for use in unproductive Jewish religious conversations online which I helpfully dubbed the “Fail Rav” or “#FailRav.” The title picture for the movie Lonely Man of Faith and the book Divrei HaRav, provided a particularly appropriate portrait of R. Joseph B. Soloveitchik for this purpose:
With the help of some meme generators I stamped the requisite “FAIL” subheading and uploaded it to a now defunct image sharing site. Lest the internet lose another irreverent meme, I recreated a collection of Fail Ravs which you’re free to use as you see fit.


Introducing: Kiruv Bingo

Ever feel like Jewish “outreach professionals” all regurgitate the same condescending sanctimonious pablum? Instead of feeling infantalized, have some fun with your friends by playing Kiruv Bingo! You know the rules, you know the rabbis, just play along!

Kiruv Bingo

Sarah Palin’s Tour de Force

I’ve been following the Sarah Palin bus tour “story” with the same cynicism and disdain as Jon Stewart. But the thought occurred to me that perhaps I had seen this sort of thing before somewhere. And after rummaging through the vault of irrelevant data that is my brain, I uncovered what can only be described as a revelation.

Loyal readers, I submit that Sarah Palin is the modern day Lex Luger.

Pre-Purim Poem 2011 / 5771

Following the precedent set last year, my sermon for the Shabbat before Purim was delivered in rhyming couplets. I’m also pleased to report this one was equally well received

It’s Purim again and you know what that means.
It’s time to revisit our Purim routines.

Gifts to the poor and baskets of fruit
Reading megillah as we holler and hoot

And the meal of course which should make you rethink
Just how much of whiskey and wine you should drink

But when we celebrate this particular season
We often ignore or forget its main reason

For unlike hagim when we reenact miracles
On Purim we mostly promote the satirical

We’re laugh, we sing, and we put on a spiel
One day to have fun – so what’s the big deal?

God saved us again, this time through means hidden
And where does it say letting loose is forbidden?

Now I don’t mean to stop anyone from enjoying
And I’m sorry in advance if I’m being annoying

But I’d like to remind everyone in this shul
We have deeper meanings as a general rule

There’s of course nothing wrong with our celebration
I’d just like to include a small contemplation

Yes we were saved from a terrible danger
From a drunk king and Haman – the whole plot’s arranger

We all know by now how the story begins
But consider the question – just when did we win?

With all of our parties we hardly give thought
To the end of the story and the war that was fought

Haman’s great plan was to have the Jews killed
And so he affected how the king willed

Ahashverosh decreed that throughout all his lands
The Jews could be killed just by his command

Esther and Mordechai worked out their own plot
To ensure Haman’s plan would come out for naught

It involved Achashverosh getting drunk one more time
Which it seems is as easy for this Rabbi to rhyme.

It is a long story and so I’ll condense
This “great help” from the king just allowed self-defense

The whole of the empire – still free to attack
The only change now is that Jews could fight back

Now as miracles go and what God can do
This seems kind of lame – to me if not you

At least by Hannukah we fought with poor odds
That we can say that we won with assistance from God

In the story of Purim there is nary a mention
Of even a hint of divine intervention

The groups of the Jews seemed to fight on their own
And any assistance was at best unknown

For Achashverosh too did not intervene
And the outcome of battle could not be forseen

And yet they took arms to fight for their lives
And because of their courage, our people survives

But there’s an important description our Megillah makes clear
That our deadly opponents were overtaken by fear

At the climax of Haman’s elaborate scheme
נָפַל פַּחְדָּם עַל כָּל הָעַמִּים

So why were they frightened – what need to be scared
Of a people for whom the king barely cared?

An answer I’d offer lies within all mankind
That it is towards freedom that we are all inclined

And when banded together to fight for what’s right
Few forces can stop us, no matter their might

The greatest response to a powerful bully
Is to stand up as one and oppose him quite fully

As we’ve seen recently, sitting here quite complacent
Middle East revolutions – some only still nascent

The price that it takes to create a free nation
Cannot be adjusted to any inflation

But people will tell you that despite lives that were lost
That sometimes the battles are worth every cost

To be perfectly clear and avoid all confusion
I am not advocating for armed revolution

But to remind everyone that in times of distress
We cannot remain silent while being oppressed

There are all sorts of reasons and tired excuses
For ignoring one’s pain and recurring abuses.

It’s too big, too hard, our opponents too massive
There’s no need to act, I’ll just sit and be passive

On Purim at least – for one day, or two
We put those aside for what we had to do

When we join together, united as one
There is no evil we cannot overcome

Unique to Purim, for all lessons learned
Is that sometimes our comfort and cheer must be earned

Having faith in God is all well and good
As long as our own role is as well understood

For the Jews in the Megillah, Purim meant to them
קִיְּמוּ וקבל וְקִבְּלוּ הַיְּהוּדִים עֲלֵיהֶם

They reaccepted the Torah with total free choice
And only after committing, were they free to rejoice

So recall as we dine on meal that’s most hearty
That sometimes we must fight for our own right to party

YUTOPIA’s 500,000th Visit!

Dear Loyal Readers,
On Mar 7 2011 11:50:49 pm, my humble abode on the web notched it’s 500,000th visit!1 The lucky visitor from Hobart, Tasmania searched Australia’s Google for “free chords jewish music” and stopped by the The Jewish Guitar Chords Archive.

I know what you’re thinking, 500,000 is nothing by today’s standards – even for Jewish blogs – and especially since I’ve been doing this since May 15th, 2003. However, consider the following:

  • For various personal reasons I’ve ignored the blog for months at a time intermittently
  • I’ve consistently held to my principle that there’s enough garbage on the internet that I don’t need to add to it
  • Even my most controversial posts are written carefully so as not to troll or start flame wars
  • My loyal readers are intelligent and mature enough not to start flame wars themselves. In the entire history of this site, I’ve had a grand total of one flame war (on the deconstruction) and I received apologies from both parties.

Finally, the 500,000th visit is not the same as a “hit” – as the chart below indicates most visitors to YUTOPIA stick around for a while, either taking time to read what I’ve written or downloading some of the chords from the archive.



Average Per Day266
Average Visit Length4:27
Last Hour26
This Week1,862
Average Per Day749
Average Per Visit2.8
Last Hour76
This Week5,243 


At any rate, I hope to continue keeping up the quality you’ve all come to expect both in the posts and now the podcasts which I am proud to say have already amassed approximately 5,000 downloads in total.

I thank you for your support and sticking with this site, even sometimes more than I have, and for putting up with my typos and grammar. I don’t have the time for a complete retrospective right now, though I suspect one should be due at some point. In the meantime, thanks again for helping this site achieve a Big Round Number and I look forward to reaching even more with you in the future.


1. At least since I started counting with Sitemeter – with all the changes I’ve made in the past, odds are I hit the mark a while ago.

And We’re Back!

Happy to say that after a minor hiccup the move to a new host went swimmingly. We now return to our regularly scheduled blogging.

Moving Blog…Again

YUTOPIA is moving hosts, so please excuse the forthcoming hiccups in the process. If this works, we’ll be good for the next 4 years.