12 Cheshvan 5782 / Monday, October 18, 2021 | Torah Reading: Vayeira
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HomeFoundations of JudaismJewish Daily Life and HalachaThe Rodney Street Rapper
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The Rodney Street Rapper    

The Rodney Street Rapper

An “off the derech” young man in from Brooklyn seeks advice from Rabbi Lazer Brody as to how to get back on track; there are thousands wallowing in the spiritual mire like him...


The following email is a rare gem. But, since it comes from the spiritual pits, it’s still raw and unpolished:

whatsup rabbi, i work at a non kosher deli and the mashigiach at the kosher one told me to look you up. so hear i am and i got some questions for you. First of all I come from a religious background but due to my familys independence i went of the derech. I still lsiten to mostly jewish music in my car (even though im smoking) and i wear a thick jewish chain like a rap artist would wear. I like showing off my judaism but past that im a little off, i feel like im holding back because i want to experience more out of life befoe i become frum. I need some good advice. hit me up rebs (signed, from the Rodney Street Rapper)
Dear Rodney Street Rapper,
I usually edit people's spelling mistakes or typographical errors when I print their letters, but since yours is such a priceless gem, I'm leaving it untouched. You said you have questions for me, but you didn't ask a single one. So, let me try and help you ask what I think you want to ask, because it looks to me that you’d give almost anything to get back on track:
1. Why do I feel such an emptiness, an unrest, and why is my neshama (soul) giving me such a fit?
2. Why am I wasting my life trying to speak, dress, and act cool? Is it to hide the emptiness?
3. What am I doing preparing ham and cheese sandwiches in a treife deli?
4. Why do I go cruising around in my machine with the CD turned up full volume trying to impress the jailbait?
You're the one that said, "hit me up rebs"; I don’t give unsolicited advice, but you asked for it, my man, and advice you're going to get.
Micah the prophet said, "Be modest before the Lord thy G-d". Where in Torah does it say to wear a 3-lb. cast iron Star of David hanging from a bicycle chain around your neck? Where does it say you rev your engine at the stop light so you can take off in a screech when the light turns green, while some shabobnik singer's voice is reverberating from your quad speakers? Is that how you get your jollies, when all the 14 year-olds in the miniskirts look at you like you're cool? Chimpanzees in circuses also perform for the squealing crowds…
Hey, Rapper, maybe that's what you mean when you wrote, "I'm holding back because I want to experience more out of life before I become frum (religious)" - what are you talking about? Where do you want to experience more out of life, in a spiritual sewer? Since you left the world of Torah and mitzvas (excuse me, I don't believe you were ever there), have you been learning Darwin's theory of evolution? Have “enlightened” people convinced you that your great grandfather was an ape? Are you trying to emulate him? Is that what you meant by “getting more out of life”, more than what's in the Torah? Crack, Ecstasy, and Angel Dust aren’t in the Torah either, so what other great stuff have you learned in the streets?
You and I disagree on one point only - what you call "cool," I call "empty" at best and self-destructive at worst. Be honest with yourself, Rapper – stop trying to put on a show for your buddies, take a break away from them for a moment, and think. Yes, think - that's why we have brains. Think where your life is going. Think why G-d chose to send your divine soul down to this earth. To make ham and cheese sandwiches or Italian subs?
Do you know why you wrote me, Rapper? You're neshama feels like it's in jail. Even worse, it's lost, like a babe in the woods. Sure, you have a cheap thrill every once in a while - here a girl, there a good movie or ballgame with a bottle o' beer - but that’s not where it's at. We both know that your life is like a plane in a holding pattern over Kennedy Airport - going around and around in circles and killing time, waiting for someone to give you permission to land. At least the aircraft knows its destination - you don't know yours.
A neshama without Torah and emuna is like aircraft with no navigational instruments - at best, it flies to nowhere. At worst, it cracks up.
The last time I wrote a stiff letter like this to someone, he told me to shove it (but not so gently). Later, he thanked me for saving his life. Rapper, I only write letters like this to people I love. You asked for advice? Here we go...
1. Get a new job, preferably one where you can learn a trade and have a future. I suggest that you apprentice yourself to a plumber; if you listen to Uncle Lazer, in four years you’ll be making more money than a doctor.
2. Chuck your old friends, the ones you hang out with doing nothing, together with the cigarettes and any other substances you fool around with. You're destroying your heart, lungs, and brain.
3. Start building your body with an hour of jogging and calisthenics every day.
4. Learn “The Garden of Emuna.” If you have difficulty reading, write me back and I’ll give you a list of twenty emuna CDs to listen to.
5. I don't care if you don't go to shul, but put on tefillin every morning, and say shma and shmona esreh.
6. Cover your head - if not with a kippa, then with a Mets hat (if you're a Yankee fan, that's just as good).
7. Switch the heavy chains you wear for tzitzis (you can tuck them in if you like).
8. Establish your own personal relationship with G-d; talk to Him every day and tell Him everything that's on your heart - this is what Judaism is all about, clinging to G-d. Nobody asked for rote observance.
9. Start learning the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch (Abridged Code of Jewish Law) in English, 20 minutes per day.
10. Wash your hands first thing in the morning.
11. Eat Kosher food only. Remember, the food you eat becomes part of you (both body and soul).
12. Observe the Sabbath - no cars, no weeds. Eat, sleep, take a long walk by the river, and talk to Hashem.
13. Find a rabbi you trust, and ask him all your future questions.
Rapper, if you do the above 13 steps, I will guarantee you not only happiness and fulfillment, but G-d willing, you'll have a good job, a good income, and very soon - a good wife. Think, it's either The Rodney Street Rapper going nowhere or a warm, sincere, serious and talented young Jew with a beautiful future. The choice is up to you. I believe in you though, and I think that the latter role fits you much better. With blessings always, Lazer Brody
(We invite you to visit Rabbi Lazer Brody’s award-winning daily web journal Lazer Beams)

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  2 Talkbacks for this article    See all talkbacks  
  dont mean any disrespect
Anonymous,10/25/2010 11:29:58 PM
  this guy is a gibor
Anonymous,10/25/2010 11:15:38 PM

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