Archive for the ‘Inspiration’ Category

Exhibit Two Gets Aished! 

(Exhibit Two at Aish HaTorah in Jerusalem earlier this month)

A bit of explanation is in order.

Aish = Aish HaTorah. [1]

Aish HaTorah is an apolitical network of Jewish educational centers in 35 branches on five continents. [2]

Aish is all about Jewish education and kiruv… drawing Jews closer to G-d. [3]

There is an expression for Jews who, through the educational and kiruv work of Aish HaTorah, become more connected to Judaism and more observant. It is said they get “Aished.”


[1] The name Aish HaTorah literally means “Fire of Torah.” As Elie Weisel said: “Aish HaTorah means to me the passion of teaching, the passion of learning. The study of Torah, the source of Jewish values, is the way to Jewish survival.”

[2] Aish HaTorah is a Jewish outreach organization started in Jerusalem by Rabbi Noah Weinberg z”l in 1974. Aish HaTorah’s goal is to revitalize the Jewish people by providing opportunities for Jews of all backgrounds to discover their heritage in an atmosphere of open inquiry and mutual respect. Aish HaTorah is regarded as a world leader in creative Jewish educational programs and leadership training.

[3] Aish’s educational philosophy is that Judaism is not all or nothing; it is a journey where every step counts, to be pursued according to one’s own pace and interest. Mitzvot (commandments) are not rituals, but opportunities for personal growth, to be studied and understood. We learn the Torah’s wisdom to enrich our own lives, and to share these ideas with all humanity.


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One year ago, yesterday, May 17, 2011, I created this blog, the Kosher Samurai.

One year ago, today, I published my first blog article, set out below.


I prefer to spell it bl*g or bl*gging.

I have some strange aversion to the way the word is usually spelled. Not sure why. I just do.

I’m sure that, in time, I will succumb and use the full un-asterixed version. But for now, this is my bl*g.

I’ve been inspired (or provoked, depending on one’s point of view) to start up this site by a dear friend of mine.

Shameless plug for dear friend of mine:  XUP

Her writing is quite good. If you haven’t done so already, check it out. Quality stuff, I assure you.

A few details about yours truly…

I’m Jewish and I have a fondness for Japan, Japanese food and Japanese culture.

(Hence the name for this site:  Kosher Samurai)

I am a criminal defence lawyer. Divorced

Two kids:

Exhibit One: 21 yr old daughter

Exhibit Two: 19 yr old son.

That’s all for now, I think. I’m new to this so I need to get past my “green as Gumby” stage and start writing.

Bye for now


Since then, I’ve published 162 blog articles, including this one.

At the Kosher Samurai, I publish three articles a week, usually posted on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

At my sister blog, Vampyre Fangs, I also publish three articles a week, usually posted on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

I want to personally thank each and every one of my readers who’ve stopped by and read my articles.

For me, it is a labour of love. I write primarily for myself but if others enjoy my writings too… that brings me great pleasure.

Thank you. And keep coming.


The Kosher Samurai

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I’ve not yet had the opportunity to see Ken Burns’ masterful work, The Civil War.

But I did see this one clip. [1]

A week before the Battle of Bull Run, Sullivan Ballou, a Major in the 2nd Rhode Island Volunteers, wrote home to his wife, Sarah, in Smithfield. The letter was written from Washington, D.C. July 14, 1861, on the eve of his unit moving out to war.

He wrote the letter in anticipation of his death.

It is, to me, the most moving love letter I’ve ever read. By the end, I was reduced to tears.

(Bull Run, Virginia – View of the battlefield)

Sullivan Ballou was killed a week later at the First Battle of Bull Run.

In this 150th anniversary of those horrible, bloody years of the American Civil War, please take a few minutes and listen to Sullivan Ballou’s heart-felt sentiments.


[1] The music in the background is entitled Ashoken Farewell.

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On April 24, 1990, the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope was launched into space. In the 22 years since, it has sent back over a million observations.

Here are just some of Hubble’s greatest images, year by year, courtesy of those wonderful space geeks at HubbleCast.


Articles about ASTRONOMY: http://www.scoop.it/t/science-news?tag=astronomy

(Speaking of milestones, my friendly neighbourhood blog service, WordPress, informs me that this is my 150th posted blog article. Thanks to those who read my musings and thanks to my friends, associates, colleagues, relatives and loved ones as well as the occasional innocent bystanders who constantly provide me with material!)

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The Kosher Samurai continues to be away for Passover.

Look for this award-anticipating blog to return this coming Monday April 16th!

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Astrophysicist Dr. Neil DeGrasse Tyson was asked by a reader of TIME magazine, “What is the most astounding fact you can share with us about the Universe?”

This is his answer.

Truly inspiring.



Today, Friday April 6, at sundown is the beginning of Passover. It is by far my favourite holiday.

I will be leaving for Toronto Friday morning.

This blog will shut down until after Passover.

I hope to return Monday April 16.

Until then, may you all have a meaningful and spirit-filled holiday season.

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There was a point in my innocent yet not too distant past when I had dreams of tending bonsai trees in my home.

I saw myself as a kind of Mr. Miyagi in The Karate Kid, carefully pruning and bending, shaping and creating the tiny tree over time into a work of art.

I was a hopeless failure.

For those who have never attempted to take on the task of caring and feeding a bonsai tree, let me tell you it is the closest thing you’ll ever have to keeping a pet.

It requires attention but not too much attention, light but not too much light, water but not too much water, and the temperature must be mild… not too warm, not too cold. A breeze perhaps… but not too much of a breeze.

Piece of cake, I thought to myself as I bought my first bonsai trees (twigs, really)… tiny miniature things I picked up at the florist section of my local grocery store.

I displayed them proudly in my apartment.

They were all dead in three months.

Clearly, you get what you pay for, I reasoned, and headed off to a proper greenhouse and chose a proper bonsai tree… a juniper (Juniper Procumbens Nana)… the one recommended for beginners because they are easy to care for and quite hardy.


(Like the one I bought… minus the golf ball)

I studied. I read. I did everything I was supposed to do. Things went well for about three or four months.

By the sixth month, it was dead.

(Bonsai tree – deader than Elvis)

 I tried again. It, too, was dead within six months.

Over the course of about two years (I am nothing if not stubborn… or stupid), I managed to murder more than a few bonsai trees.

I finally came to the grim realization that, no matter how well-intentioned I was, no matter how much I loved the idea of bonsai trees and their connection to Japan and Japanese culture, no matter how much of a samurai spirit I had sparking within me, whatever it took to grow bonsai trees successfully, I didn’t have it.

(A stark yet elegant beauty in death)

 What I did have was a kind of bonsai graveyard… a bleak necropolis of brown and withered miniature trees.

At first, I kept them as an almost perverse testament to my failure as a gardener. But then, over time, they took on another personality.

The dead trees had a funereal loveliness all their own. In death, they created their own form of art… a sepulchral style far beyond anything I could have created on my own.

And so they stand to this day.

It might be that one day I will head on down to my local greenhouse to pick up a bonsai tree and give it another try… but if I do, there will be no sense of failure or loss if and when the tree dies.

It will simply be transforming itself from one form of beauty into another.

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