The Matzav Shmoooze: I Am An Ostrich


ostrichDear readers,

I’m proud to be an ostrich. Really. Despite my flightlessness and awkward appearance, I’m proud to be ostrich.

Let me explain how I came to be an ostrich.

Some people look at the Orthodox Jews (aka, the frum velt) and they see problems. The rabbis mettle too much, or, ironically, the rabbis aren’t involved enough. People don’t take davening seriously enough. Too many people stay in kollel for too long. Too much gashmiyus. Etc. Etc. People find problems with everything, even when their gripes make little sense.

The list is long.

We’ll call those people realists. That’s what they call themselves. “I’m just calling it as I see it,” they say.

Others see the frum velt as an island of sanity in a stormy sea of decadence. There are certainly many individuals outside of the frum world who are value-centered people, but there is no other group, whether national, religious or civic, that compares to Klal Yisroel.

After 2,000 years of harsh and wicked treatment, look at this nation! So much Torah learning in every community. The kollelim, chadarim, high schools, seminaries, yeshivos, shiurim, and yarchai kallahs. Wow! After so much torture, look at how this nation loves its Torah! What of the mesirus nefesh of the rabbeim and moros in all of our schools who love our children so much, who are underpaid and overworked, and who deal with so much more than teaching our children?

In a world where people can hardly concentrate for more than 30 seconds, look at how many hundreds of thousands of Jews take 30-60 minutes out of every morning to daven. See how many minyanim there are to accommodate every nusach and nuance of custom. Look at the minyanim that have adopted strict rules of not talking to show the great respect for our houses of worship. Look at the minyanim that have such an incredible sea of excitement and warmth to sing the praises of Hashem. Look at the minyanim in Meah Shearim that daven Nishmas for 20 minutes and say “Amein yehei shemei rabbah” with a burning fire of love.

And chesed!

Mi ke’amcha Yisroel!

Is there a frum community in Eretz Yisroel with less than 20 different types of gemachs? There are some with more than 100.

What happens in every community when a family has a baby? The meals, the help with cleaning, and the rides are unbelievable. How many meals are distributed on a daily basis to families struggling to  put bread on the table? People turn their lives upside down when, Rachmana litzlan, tragedy visits a friend or neighbor.

And what of the chessed and Torah of all of our kiruv organizations? Precious teachers of  tinokos shenishbu focus day and night on reaching farther and deeper to help our lost clansmen.

The first group of onlookers calls themselves realists. The velt has a lot of problems. We have to open up our eyes to see the problems or we’re being . . . ostriches.

Like I said, I’m proud to be an ostrich.

I’d like to have ended the essay right here, hopeful that the rest is obvious. But I’ll state the obvious. There are some very serious problems in our generation and we can’t expect them to go away by pretending that they don’t exist. Are there people who do that? Sure. But so many of the “realists” whine and complain and speak badly about the Jewish people as if their eyes are open only to the problems. These realists speak as if anyone who doesn’t complain as loudly as they do clearly doesn’t have their eyes open. These realists often speak in the harshest terms about our holy leaders. Hashem yeracheim!

What this ostrich is saying is that perhaps one of the best ways to deal with our problems is to realize our starting point. The place from where the problems are solved is not a place of complaining and using our complaints to speak lashon hara about our holy nation. The starting place is: “Mi ke’amcha Yisroel.” We are such an amazing people. Let’s look together at how we can improve.

Rabbi O. Stricher


The Matzav Shmoooze is a regular feature on that allows all readers to share a thought or analysis, long or short, one sentence or several paragraphs long, on any topic, for readers to mull over and comment on. Email submissions to

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  1. Matzav, I really think you should set some standards when it comes to posting peoples letters.English is obviously not his first language and its quite appaling to read such mumbo jumbo on a news site.

  2. Bs”D Kol HaKavod for the beautiful article. The Rebbe always stresses that we should be makir tov what another person does (as a starting point), and then to encourage the person to do more, little by little. That’s been my experience watching the Rebbe on “dollar lines”. By being makir tov, one can never lose. It is the best step one can take. Kesiva VaChasima Toiva, Leshono Toiva U’Mesuka.

  3. Truly amazing, enlightening, and emes!
    and to “eli” and “torahis1” thanks for supporting his thesis by exposing yourselves as the archetypes of what Rabbi O. was referring to, no really thanks for an example of what he’s talking about in REAL TIME!!

  4. I don’t see the contradiction.

    It doesn’t have to be “others see…”, the very same people can see the qualities yet ecknowledge the problems, if thery’re there.

    Let’s not be extreme to either side, that we don’t see the truth the way it is, on both sides of the coin.

  5. Very well said: There isn’t any group of people without fault, period. I believe the reason some people always find fault in Frum Jews is because they know that a frum person is a special person so he’ll always find fault in him.

    Real Realist

  6. a deep insight i recently discovered, there are only TWO attitudes positive or negative, realist- from the root word reality is just a way of staying neutral and siding with which ever side is convenient to you at the time!

  7. Absolutely great post. Yes, there are problems and yes we need improvement. But that said, there is so much positive. Beautiful post- loved it.

  8. Eli….before you criticize anyone…first pay attention to yourself….if you will notice, English seems like it isn’t your first language either…check your spelling for one!
    It is appalling!!!!!!!

  9. Eli…you see what happens when you criticize others…Hashem has a way of getting back at us…you find fault with your fellow jew….and walla…you get the criticism right back…
    I’m not saying that to hurt you. I don’t know you and we are in Chodesh Elul…just a reminder to see the light in people….
    focus on the light Eli….the light……

  10. Glad to be a real life talmid/chaver of R’ O. Stricher. Great work!

    It’s so good to be a Yid, a member of this glorious nation that is klal Yisroel, Hashem’s great love and treasure!

  11. #20: Great comment; you took the words right out of my mouth! (btw, the word you meant to use is “voila” since it is taken from French, not “walla” as most people mistakenly pronounce it).

  12. I am really proud to be part of the frum oilam!There is nothing better than being an eved Hashem.

    While I am all for the positive – and I am against blog bashing frum Jews- we should NOT bury our heads in the sand when it comes problems that cause others pain.

    Like children not getting into schools,shidduchim ect.

    Baruch hashem these topics are spoken about and Gedolim and Rabbonim are maskim that theses are isuues and are guiding the oilam how to proceed.

    Baruch Hashem people don’t have their heads buried in the sand and have taken initiatives to help alleviate pain and a lot of problems that people in our community face

    Example: Shidduchim -people are more aware of what is going on people have become more active in shidduchim-there are shidduchim meetings,organizations ect.

    Another example: Parnossa-Parnossa 100% comes from Hashem-but as far as hishtadlus goes-during these hard economy times people/Shuls have set up job networking opportunities,and people are on the lookout for others to help them find a job!

    Putting down ANYTHING that the Torah says or going against a Gadol or putting down any particular group is UNCALLED FOR!

    Having said all that if someone has a diffrent minhag then you THEN you should bury your head in the sand-not when it comes to others and their pain!

    Mi keamcha Yisrael-we are an incredible nation always helping and looking to help one another!

    May all of the wonderfull Jewish nation be
    zoche to a Ksiva Vachasima Tova, a Gut Gebentcha Yur filled with only mazel,brocha,parnosa,hatzlocha,good health, and this year should be the year that we should great Beias Goel tzedek bemheira viyameinu Amen!

  13. One thought… Gemachs are started by people seeing a problem – and then taking action to help it. That’s how we’re a nation of chesed: our eyes are open to the problems, and then we try to make our world a better place, one bit at a time. If your eyes are closed… no chesed. If your eyes are open but your feet don’t move (i.e. you kvetch and that’s it)… there’s no chesed either. Let’s keep trying to do both.