10 Gardening Tips Everyone Should Know

1.Growing season

Knowing how long your growing season is can make all the difference. Pay attention to when the last frost in spring is and when the first frost of the fall will be. This will help you plan which plants to grow altogether. If the growing season is not long enough, some plants will not be able to grow at all.


Deadheading, or pruning, wilted or spent flowers will tell the plant to create more flowers. Additionally, it can tell that plant to devote more energies to certain aspects such as root growth. By clipping the dead flowers, you are giving the plant new life.

3.Eight Hours Direct Sunlight

Vegetables need 8 full hours of sunlight each day. Make sure to look for the sunniest areas within your garden to plant vegetables so you can yield the most amount of veggies as possible!

4.Soil Quality

Only use composted, rotted manure that has cured for at the very least 6 months. Manure that is too fresh will actually kill new plants. Rich soil is important for plant growth and plant health. Make sure your soil has enough nutrients to support the plants you are specifically trying to grow.

5.Transporting Container Grown Plants

When you transport container grown plants to an outdoor garden, make sure to dig a larger hole than the soil ball attached to the plant. By digging a larger hole, you are giving the roots room to grow and establish themselves in the new location.

6.Proper watering

Most plants need a deep watering of about 1-2 inches once or twice a week rather than a light watering every day. If you are not getting significant rainfall, make sure to give your plants a deep watering. This soaks the soil all the way through the roots and does not encourage roots to grow upward.


The best course of action for weeding is by hand. This keeps the weeds from seeding and growing even more. Pulling weeds by hands also do not disrupt any of the other plants too much. Weed early and often to keep your garden beautiful and uninterrupted.

8.Create a non-stick Shovel

Creating a non stick shovel will be more valuable than you could imagine. The shovel become more efficient and causes less effort on your end. Spray the head of your best shovel with a Teflon or silicone lubricant. This will cause all the dirt to slide off the shovel and creates less of a mess!

9.Restrict aggressive plants

There are certain types of plants that grow very aggressively and can tangle up roots and take over too much space. An easy way to prevent this from happening is to cut the bottom off of a plastic planter and place the aggressive plant in there. The planter contains the roots and forces them to grow down as opposed to spreading outward.

10.Protect your bulbs

To keep pests from eating your bulbs between seasons, place chicken wire over top the bulbs and keep it down with tent spikes. This will keep your bulbs safe and sound! When it comes times for the bulbs to start growing, remove the chicken wire.

How to Be an Effective Tutor

High quality tutors are a student’s best resource for obtaining assistance outside of the classroom. As a tutor, it is their duty to provide excellent service and experience to grow their student’s knowledge and understanding. There are some specific qualifications and personal attributes needed to be an effective tutor.

Establish expectations

The students seeking out tutoring need to understand they will not be experts overnight. They also will not see their grade change dramatically after the first tutoring session. Building understanding and proficiency may take time. Additionally, depending on the state of their grades, it may take more time to bring poor grades up.

Know the student

Not every student learns the same and a great tutor will take that into account. When tutoring, the same techniques or lesson plans should not be applied to all students. The reason they are there is to receive personalized, individual help and they deserve to get it.

Lay Ground Rules

Just like a classroom, a tutoring environment should have rules. It is important to have structure and to stick to it. Those rules are in place to help the student stay on track, get the most out of the session, and give the tutor hard lines to refer to in order to keep the session going well. These rules should be discussed and agreed upon by the student so that both student and tutor are on the same page.

Build and Maintain Trust

A student needs to know they are in a safe environment and that they can trust their tutor to do right by them. Tutors are committed to success of their students and that mutual trust should be there. Be willing to adjust your teaching style to help them and refrain from condescension. Negativity does not breed success and will ultimately hurt the student.

Give Positive Feedback

By giving positive and consistent feedback, the student knows how they are doing. They can use this to evaluate their own success and recognize that they could be doing better. Tutors should also encourage and let their students know when they are succeeding. This encouragement will only have them work even harder!
Tutoring should be a fulfilling experience for both student and tutor. The student should be gaining a greater understanding of subject material and the tutor should be seeing their attention and care having a positive effect on the student. Tutoring will not always be easy, but it will always be rewarding.

Introduction To Passover


The Jewish Holiday of Passover (or Pesach) begins this year on Friday night.  Even though we are blessed to live in America, an open society that truly grants freedom of religion, unfortunately, many few people—both Jews and gentiles—are ignorant of or misunderstand even the most basic ideas about Judaism.  Since we live among each other, a minimal understanding of the basic concepts is important.

Before I explain a few basic concepts of Passover, I want to explain two basic ideas:

1.A very famous rabbi who lived around 1880, Rabbi Yisroel Salanter, was once asked to summarize Judaism in one sentence.  He said, “The main idea of Judaism is be concerned with your share in the Next World, and your neighbor’s share in This World.”  Then he added, “Most of the problems we have now or historically, such as poverty or wars, were due to the fact that people got it the other way around.”

His remarks are quite accurate and quite pithy.  Judaism is the only religion that I know of that has not persecuted members of other faiths nor insisted that only members of their own religion have a share in the World to Come.  Judaism teaches that there are many paths to G-D, and any righteous person, regardless of religion, can go to Heaven.  Judaism teaches that G-D gave the Torah (Pentateuch) to the Jews, as way of life that He feels is best for them.  Others are not expected to follow these beliefs and practices, although they may if they want to.

It is not our job to preach to others or to tell them how to live.  It is however, our job to be honest with ourselves and others in what believe.  For these reasons anything we say below should be taken in this context just explained.

2.Society in general has held many different values that change in time and place.  For example, ancient Egyptian society did not consider a marriage between a brother and sister to be incestuous, but ancient Persian society did.  Ancient Persian society did not consider marriage between a mother and son to be incestuous, but ancient Egyptian society did.  Today, almost all societies consider both relationships to be incestuous.  There are many other examples of changing values.  Many people want to be “politically correct” and will attack physically or verbally someone who goes strongly against the current trend.  Voltare once said “I may not agree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”

The values of Judaism have always been at odds, in some situations, with the values of surrounding society.  We ask that anyone reading this essay, adopt the  policy of Voltaire and not to attack or abuse anyone, including the author of this essay, who will take issue—sometimes very strongly—with the values of society—for, after all, who is allowed to tell someone else what values he or she should hold dear?  As explained above, we are honestly explaining our values, Jewish values, and anyone and everyone must make his or her choice what values to follow.

Slavery in Egypt and Miraculous Redemption

 The Bible explains the Jews were slaves in Egypt and tortured and treated cruelly for over one hundred years until G-D worked miracles and took the Jews out of Egypt.  After they left, He split the waters of the Red Sea, and the Jews crossed on dry land, whereas the Egyptians who followed them were drowned as the waters closed in on them.  Passover is, to some extent, a celebration of thanksgiving for these miraculous events—but it is even more, as to be explained later.

Do you believe the Biblical account is an honest record of historical fact?  Think for a minute about what your answer is, and then please answer this next question:  The University of Pennsylvania, has in its archives a hieroglyphic inscription found at the site the Bible claims the Jews crossed the Red Sea, and describes, almost identically the same story, how the escaped slaves crossed the sea on dry land, and their leader Moses, raised his hands, and sea closed on the pursuing Egyptians and drowned them.  Does this fact (that most people did not know) change your view as to the historical accuracy of the Biblical account?

Whom Do You Trust?

For many people the answer is yes—but it should not be?. Why?  Here is why:

A person believes a source he feels is reliable.

Which is more reliable?  The Bible or Egyptian politicians?  Before we discuss the concept of Biblical reliability, let us mention something about politicians.  In ancient Egypt, as in most ancient societies, most people did not know how to read or write.  Writing or hieroglyphic inscription was done by specially trained experts who were government officials.  They wrote exactly what their political bosses told them to.  In virtually every society the official history or chronicles was made to glorify the rulers and that country; the historical accounts of the Persian-Greek wars (or any other war, for that matter) varied dramatically between the “historians” of the two countries.

We see the same thing in modern times.  Politicians are lying, backtracking, and denying things right and left.  This year’s presidential primary debates of both parties has been considered a circus, with virtually every candidate telling bold-faced lies.  Without necessarily supporting  any candidate I find it amazing that Hillary Clinton, for example, has stated she was named after Sir Edmund Hillary, the famous British explorer who was the first to scale Mt. Everest, even though she was born about five years earlier!

There were so many problems and rumors concerning what happened regarding the Kennedy assassination on Nov. 22, 1963, that one week later Pres. Johnson recruited  Justice Warren, of the Supreme Court to be he head of a blue-ribbon committee to investigate what did happen.  He authored the famous “Warren Report,” released about one year later, which was the official document stating the conclusions and the evidence, and it strongly supported the official government version, in spite of the numerous objections and possible inconsistencies.  Years later, in the early 70‘s Congress re-opened an investigation.  One of the witnesses to testify was one of America’s greatest acoustics experts–if not the greatest—Ernst Ahskenazi, then at Queens College, and a friend of mine.  His testimony, as recorded in a New York Times article, stated that with more advanced acoustic techniques that became available since the assassination, it seems almost definite that there were two bullets fired, not one, and from two different directions.  Other witnesses and experts were interviewed, and some supported the government theory of one assassin (Oswald), and others did not.  It did become clear though, that the FBI, CIA, and secret service had not necessarily released full information to the Warren Committee investigating the shooting.

In an Op Ed in the New York Times, Chief Justice Warren wrote, that contrary to rising public opinion to the contrary, he and the other committee members, worked honestly with great integrity, and dealt as best they could with information provided by the FBI, CIA, and secret service.  At that time they had accepted without question the reliability of the information provided.  Justice Warren noted that after the Watergate and Vietnam scandals it would be naïve to believe the information provided was accurate, complete, and had not been doctored.  

By now, it is estimated that more than 1,000 books have been written about the Kennedy assassination, with more than 90% questioning the official government version.  There are numerous conspiracy theories, some of them obviously by quacks, and others that seem plausible.  I do not know if anyone knows what the truth really is.  It is rather clearly agreed there was some government obfuscation, but who, what, when, where, and why is the subject of much debate.  

This is only one example of the government publicizing, today, as in ancient times, only what it wants the public to know.  One more example might prove interesting:  During the debate for and against Obama’s universal health care bill, quite a number of experts claimed one negative result could be many people not being able to continue with their current doctors.  Obama clearly publicly stated that no one would lose his or her physician because of this bill—yet millions of people did.  One might think this statement was simply an incorrect analysis, but a few years later, one White House official said he was at the meeting with the president and other proponents of the bill, and they discussed quite clearly that many people would indeed lose their physician.  One purpose of this particular meaning was how to present this fact to the public, and in the end, the committee decided they would simply lie about it and deny that possibility—and for that reason, President Obama intentionally lied and misled the public.   

Thus the bottom line is whom to believe.  And the answer is quite obvious—anyone with great integrity.  We know that politicians do not generally fall into that category.  Let us see how the great rabbis of past generations fare in this regards:

Some Fundamentals of Jewish Belief

It is taught in many Sunday schools, both Jewish and non-Jewish, that Abraham was the first Jew, because he was the first to believe in G-D, that is the first one to be monotheistic.  This idea is not accurate.  True, he was monotheistic, and did try to wean the people of his generation from idolatry, but he was not the first monotheist to believe in G-D.  Certainly Adam was.  Also Noah, who was found to be the most righteous man of his generation was monotheistic—and he lived 10 generations before Abraham!  Noah was a prophet—he talked with G-D.  Righteous gentiles who follow the path of Noah are called “B’nei Noah”—“children” or followers of Noah.  But he was not the first Jew.

To explain why Abraham, and not Noah, was the first Jew, we need to explain an important “side” point first: 

According to Jewish tradition, the Pentateuch, or written Torah (“Torah” means “teaching” or “instruction.”) does not comprise the full amount of knowledge imparted by G-D to the Jewish Nation at the Revelation on Mt. Sinai.  The “written Torah” is like classroom notes a student takes, which embodies only the essence of the lecture, not the full amount of information.  There is more to it—the Oral Torah, or Jewish tradition, dating back to Mt. Sinai, that includes details often omitted from the Written Torah.  For example, it says “You shall slaughter as I have shown you.”  But no where near this verse, nor anywhere else, is there a description of how to slaughter!  Yet this verse is the basis of all the rules and laws pertaining to kosher meat and kosher slaughtering.  The very words “as I have shown you” indicate G-D showed something to Moses that was not recorded.  The details of kosher slaughtering are very complex, and to become a certified Jewish slaughterer generally takes at least one year of intensive study and practice.  All these details are part of the Oral Tradition or Oral Law or Oral Torah.  These laws were kept oral and transmitted orally for about two thousand years until the Roman persecutions were so severe, that the leading rabbis of the generation decided to commit them to writing so they should not be forgotten, as the Romans had decreed that any Rabbi teaching Jewish Law to his students will be killed, and all the students will be killed.  Thousands of rabbis and students risked their lives (and many were caught and tortured to death) in order to preserve Jewish tradition.  They simply defied the Romans.  But when the Romans decreed that not only would all students in the Yeshiva (rabbinical seminary) be killed, but every person in the city where the yeshiva was located, the seminaries had to close down, and the once Oral Law, was then recorded as a 60+ volume encyclopedia known as the Mishnah (Hebrew for “Teaching”).  But this form was still very abbreviated, and eventually a detailed commentary on the Mishnah, known as the Gemarra (Aramaic for “teaching”) was recorded.  The two together constitute the “Talmud” (Hebrew for “study”) and is the main work universally studied by Rabbinical students for over 1000 years.

According to the Written Torah, it says that after the flood Noah was alarmed at how desolate the world was, and he built and altar and prayed to G-D he would not destroy the world again.  It does not record G-D’s response to him.  The Oral Torah does; it says G-D was angry and said “Now you pray to me?  You should have prayed before the flood.  I could have saved you without you building an ark.  I ordered you to build an ark which took 200 years in order that people would ask what you were doing, and you would explain that I was going to destroy the world.  You were supposed to influence the evil people in your generation to repent, and pray to me that I would erase my decree to destroy the world.  Instead, you went on your merry way, and did not show proper concern for others or have compassion on my children, the rest of mankind.”

Now, let us compare, on the other hand, the behavior or Abraham.  G-D told him he was going to destroy the two wicked cities of Sodom and Gemara (spelled in Hebrew and pronounced differently from the Gemarra above, although it does sound the same in English).  What did Abraham do?  He immediately got up and SHOUTED, “G-d, you are the Judge of all the earth!  Will not the Judge act justly?  How can you destroy the righteous with the wicked?”  In short, he argued with G-D.  He did not take complacently a decree to destroy thousand of people.  G-D responded that he would not kill the righteous with the wicked, but would save the righteous people in these cities from destruction.  Abraham could have walked away at this point and said “OK.”  But instead, the debate between Abraham and G-D continues.  Abraham said that G-D should be patient, and NOT destroy even the wicked people, because if he gives them more time, maybe the righteous people living in these cities will be able to influence the evil ones to repent.  And Abraham actually extracts a promise from G-D, saying that if He finds there are 50 righteous people in these cities, G-D will not destroy the cities, but save everyone on account of those righteous individuals.  Abraham continues to bargain with G-D, until he gets down to 10 righteous people—and G-D agrees.  As it was, unfortunately, G-D did not find 10 righteous people, so he rained down on the cities fire and brimstone, and destroyed the cities completely.  However, that is not the main point.  The main point is the demonstration of Love that Abraham had for all of humanity that he was willing to argue with G-D, and debate, and bargain with him, to save others.  That love, is what made him the first Jew.

The single most important principle in the Torah is in Lev. Chap. 19—“Love thy neighbor as thyself.”

A little deeper

Now that we have explained the centrality of the importance of love and genuine, heartfelt concern for others in Judaism, the existence and importance of the Oral Law, and the historical dedication at the time of Roman persecutions (and throughout 4,000 years of history for that matter), of the Jewish people, there are still some major ideas that need to be explained.  How do we know G-D really exists?  How do we know he really communicated the Torah to us?  Maybe these are just legends.  And doesn’t belief in the Torah contract evolution or modern science?

These are all good questions, that honestly have good, scholarly answers, that would take hours and many pages to explain.  Still, I will give a very brief outline—but brief in terms of what information there is.  That is to say I am communicating far less than 1% of 1% of the information there is, but just enough to show any honestly intellectual person, that these questions are based upon mistaken views of what the Torah says and what Judaism teaches.  Most people who read the Bible do so in English, not Hebrew, and a lot is lost in the translation.  Also, they may be unaware of Jewish tradition, or the Oral Torah, so they have a distorted picture of what Judaism is and believes.  With a knowledge of the Oral Torah, all these questions disappear or are easily answered.

Let us look at just a few ideas, although there are literally thousands of examples.  How old is the universe?  Is evolution true?  In Hebrew, there are different verbs for “creating” or making.  Only one of them means “creating ex nihilo,” creating from nothing.  That verb is used three times in Genesis.  All the other verbs indicate not an act of creation per se, by G-d, but a causation of events to evolve on their own.  This is noted in the Oral Law thousands of years ago.  The three cases are in the very initial act of creation, in the creation of the great sea monsters, and in the creation of Man.  

Moreover, the sun, moon, and stars, were not created and put into position until the 4th day of the seven days of creation, so how did they measure time before then?  

According to Jewish Tradition, the Oral Torah, time was different in the beginning.  There was a flash of infinite light, that traveled at an amazing speed, and gradually things slowed down.  This concept fits well within the beliefs of modern physics.  Einstein’s Theory of Relativity can explain it by the “Twin Paradox.”  The following is an explanation copied from Wikopedia:

In his famous paper on special relativity in 1905, Albert Einstein deduced that when two clocks were brought together and synchronized, and then one was moved away and brought back, the clock which had undergone the traveling would be found to be lagging behind the clock which had stayed put.[A 4] Einstein considered this to be a natural consequence of special relativity, not a paradox as some suggested, and in 1911, he restated and elaborated on this result as follows (with physicist Robert Resnick‘s comments following Einstein’s):[A 5][6]

If we placed a living organism in a box … one could arrange that the organism, after any arbitrary lengthy flight, could be returned to its original spot in a scarcely altered condition, while corresponding organisms which had remained in their original positions had already long since given way to new generations. For the moving organism, the lengthy time of the journey was a mere instant, provided the motion took place with approximately the speed of light.

If the stationary organism is a man and the traveling one is his twin, then the traveler returns home to find his twin brother much aged compared to himself. The paradox centers on the contention that, in relativity, either twin could regard the other as the traveler, in which case each should find the other younger—a logical contradiction. This contention assumes that the twins’ situations are symmetrical and interchangeable, an assumption that is not correct. Furthermore, the accessible experiments have been done and support Einstein’s prediction.

In 1911, Paul Langevin gave a “striking example” by describing the story of a traveler making a trip at a Lorentz factor of γ = 100 (99.995% the speed of light). The traveler remains in a projectile for one year of his time, and then reverses direction. Upon return, the traveler will find that he has aged two years, while 200 years have passed on Earth. 

Dr. Gerald Schroeder, a physicist who used to teach at MIT, has shown, in his book Genesis and the Big Bang that the first several billion years of the universe, were compacted into a smaller time-frame of exactly six days!

According to the Oral Torah, the “true” age of the universe, in modern terms is 14.8 billion years—an exact fit.  How did our sages know that?  They said that they had a tradition from Moses that G-D told him on Mt. Sinai.  Is there any religion or society before modern science that claimed the universe is billions of years old?  Before Einstein, just 150 years ago or so, would not anyone have been thought of as crazy if he said the earth is billions of years old?  Yet Jewish tradition, and ONLY Jewish tradition, is the only source in the world so claiming!

Here is another one.  Jews are commanded in the Bible to say a certain prayer at the beginning of every month the new moon first appears.  The Babylonians worshipped the moon, and for 500 years they send people in the fields at night to observe when does the new moon first appear.  According to Dr. John Newton, professor of history of astronomy at the prestigious John Hopkins University the Babylonians used these 500 years of observations to make calculations, but still they were significantly off—however their error was understandable based upon the level of science and math at that time.  In the Talmud, it mentions we have an oral tradition dating back to Moses on Mt. Sinai, that G-d told Moses when the new moon appears—every 29.point so many days.  This figure was later found to be accurate to six decimal places, that the mean synodic month is exactly that long.  This figure, however, was not known by scientists until 1972, when they put a special mirror on the moon, and bounced a laser light off it, and timed its return to the earth carefully, and were thus able to measure distances and orbits more carefully.  Someone who told this to Dr. Newton said he nearly fainted when he heard this—it is amazing that the Jews have a tradition that more accurate than anything science knows for 4,000 years!    How could the Jews know a certain number, to six decimal places, almost 4,000 before scientists did?  The only rational answer is that the Torah really was given by G-D, the Creator of the universe.

Another amazing fact:  Both the New Testament (a book Jews do NOT believe in) and the Old Testament, are about the same length.  The Old Testament is about 4000 years old, and 2000 years older than the new one.  It was copied by scribes, often in their spare time, and often under great duress—penalty of death by various persecuting governments or religions.  The New Testament was copied by monks in monasteries, who did nothing else and were totally free to do so.  Now copying a large book by hand is a tedious and difficult job.  Given the size, the age, and the persecutions, which do you think currently has a more reliable text?  The NT has over 100,000 versions of changes in words, letters, etc.  Those who study history know that such an error rate is perfectly reasonable for a large book 2000 years old.  A study was made in Israel by Dr. Breuer about 50 years ago, of hudnreds of Torah scrolls, hundreds of years old, from Morocco, Yemen, Turkey, Poland, Spain, etc.  He found only SIX one-letter differences, and they were all similar to alternate spellings in Hebrew such as “honor” or “honour” in English.  Truly the Torah is a miracle text.  There is no comparable book like it in the history of the world that is so carefully preserved. 

Ask any historian, and he will tell you it is impossible for any large amount of text to be preserved accurately for hundreds, much less, thousands, of years.  Even the Declaration of Independence, written in 1776 has at least two versions.  There is a question as to whether the text is “inalienable rights” or unalienable rights.”  I have seen written essays by historical experts on both sides of the issue.  Here the text is less than 250 years old, and only a few hundred words, and already there is a dispute as to the original verbiage! 


We include a here a list of sources giving more information as well as the biographies of several famous rabbis so anyone can decide for himself or herself about the integrity of the texts or the great rabbis in an n performing a task selflessly without any exterior motivations.   

For anyone wanting to know more about proof, based upon Judaism, that G-D really does exist, and He really did communicate the Torah to His people, I suggest the following books as good sources:  Beyond a Reasonable Doubt published by Feldheim.  (www.feldheim.com).  I would further suggest browsing this site for other books on Judaism and science (some by Dr. Levi, former physics prof. at City College and who now teaches in Israel), and other books, such as biographies of famous people—very interesting and inspiring.  (These include All for the Boss, The Bamboo Cradle, and others.  Perhaps the best is A Tzadik (saint) in Our Time, the biography of Rabbi Aryeh Levin, a prison chaplain, who was an utterly amazing person.  He was so effective in helping people that no criminal who ever met him was imprisoned again.  Every prisoner he spoke to once was totally reformed!  Compare that to our 80% recidivism rate in the US.  When the jails were overcrowded the courts sentenced criminals to spend one or two weeks in his apartment.  They so loved him they refused to move out, and the police then had to come and remove them.  During the Israeli War of Independence, a time, unfortunately, of great hatred of Jews by the Arabs, the Arabs in Jerusalem’s main prison UNANIMOUSLY petitioned the jail that the Arab Mullah chaplain should be removed and that Rabbi Levin should be the Moslem chaplain as well.  Rabbi Levin was so helpful to people that anyone who needed a bank loan or a mortgage would ask him to be a cosigner if they had weak credit.  He always agreed—many people defaulted, and as a result he was paying out of his own pocket several mortgages for other poor families.  He was happy to do so, and he and his children went barefoot and only ate one meal a day because they had no money.  The Jerusalem municipality eventually passed a law that no loan is valid if he is a cosigner—they passed that law to save him from starvation.  (Have you ever heard of a city passing such a law?)

Similarly, for information about Judaism in general, and how it is different from other religions, there is an excellent book by Rabbi Mordecai Katz, entitled, Understanding Judaism, published by Artscroll (www.artscroll.com)   They also have many books that would be of general interest, including some famous biographies, perhaps the best being Guardian of Jerusalem, the biography of an extraordinary rabbi who was well respected by both Jews and Arabs, and successfully made peace between different groups when he was alive.

There was a black rapper from Jamaica, named Robinson, who was into drugs, sex, violence, and other disgusting things as is common among rappers.  Someone told him there is a purpose to life.  G-D put us here for a reason and gave him a Bible with the commentary of Rabbi Samson Rafael Hirsch.  (This book, known as the Hirsch Chumash—Chumash is Hebrew for Pentateuch.)  Robinson read it, and it totally changed his life around.  He converted and became an observant orthodox Jew.  The change was dramatic.  All of his acquaintances found that deep beneath his demeanor of violence, was a soft, loving, caring individual.  He left “rap” and got a job in a liquor store.  Unfortunately he died young and violently, like many other rappers—but for a different reason, he was shot during a robbery in the store as he was trying to protect the customers.  I have friends who knew him, as he prayed in a synagogue near where I live.  This book, the Hirsch Chumash, is available from Feldheim.  It is long and complex—but it is amazingly beautiful.  It is the best single source of information of the Orthodox Jewish view of the world, one’s self, the Bible, etc.  I highly recommend it to anyone wanting to know about Judaism.  It might be the single most important work to read. 

Similarly I have a friend who used to send two e-mails a week that describe in detail the Jewish view of some topic he is discussing.  One of the last series he sent before his premature death (containing over 200 e-mails) is entitled “My Search for the Soul of Zion.”  Other series he has written include one on Harmony, one on the Sabbath, one on Animals, and many others.  His subscribers include many non-Jews including Christians and Moslems who all think his insights are beautiful and inspiring.  Reading these e-mails on a regular basis will give one a good feeling for Jewish thought, belief, and practice.  There are only two a week, so it involves much less time than reading the Pentateuch by Hirsch.  I highly recommend it.  See Hazon – Our Universal Vision: www.shemayisrael.co.il/publicat/hazon/

Some Brief Biographies

1.  All for the Boss by Ruchama Shain, published by Feldheim,

The biography of a man (the author’s father) who kept Shabbos in America when almost no one else did, opened his house to the poor, started or gave money to many yeshivas, helped the mentally ill, and was such a kind-hearted man and totally dedicated to keeping mitzvos, that the book is utterly inspiring.  For years, this was the best selling book ever in the Orthodox Jewish world.

1.  A Tzadik in Our Time, by Simcha Raz, published by Feldheim

Also a biography, of the famous Rabbi Arye Levine.  Officially he was the guidance counselor in an elementary yeshiva in Jerusalem, but for many years, including throughout the War of Independence, he was the unpaid chaplain for Jewish prisoners in Jerusalem’s jails.  He loved everyone so much that he was a powerful influence, so powerful that Rav Kook ZT”L said if there were just three people on earth like Rav Levine, the mashiach would come immediately.

  • He always left his door unlocked so anyone could visit any time who wanted advice or help.
  • He had a remarkable recidivism rate of 0%!  That is to say that any prisoner who spoke to him personally (even once—and they all did), when the prisoner was released, never committed another crime again.
  • During the War of Independence ALL the Arabs in the main prison signed a petition, unanimously, requesting the Moslem Mullah who was their chaplain be dismissed and replaced with Rabbi Levine.
  • When jails were overcrowded courts sentenced criminals (including for serious crimes) to stay one or two weeks in R. Levine’s house.  He had a small apartment for his wife and 6 (I think) children—kitchen, living room-dining room, and one bedroom.  The prisoners slept on the living room floor.  When their time was up, they refused to leave, and there was no room for the next batch of prisoners, so the police came and had to drive them out.
  • He co-signed anyone’s mortgage who wanted him to, even though his salary at the yeshiva was a pittance.  Many people with poor credit ratings could not get a mortgage, so they needed a co-signer.  There were others who even forged his signature, and they defaulted, but he paid their mortgages himself.  He was so poor that he had no shoes and walked barefoot and fasted several days a week because he could not afford to buy any food.  At that point the Jerusalem municipality stepped in and passed an ordinance that any mortgage or loan co-signed by R. Levine would not be valid.  Did you ever hear of a city outlawing a person to so-sign a loan for fear he would go broke?
  • He cured several people who were in an insane asylum, and considered hopeless cases, just by talking to them.

Be forewarned that the first part of the book is slow, but it is much faster-reading later.  Also, even though he was an expert at “V’ahavta l’rei’acho kamocha” he still believed and emphasized that all mitzvos in the Torah should be kept, without compromising or altering them to make them more relevant to the times.

3.  Guardian of Jerusalem by R. Sonenfeld, published by Artscroll,

This is a biography of R. Yosef Chaim Sonenfeld (written by his grandson), who was an amazing genius having memorized the entire Talmud, the complete Shulchan Aruch, and dozens of other books at an early age (I think before his Bar Mitzvah).  As a young rabbi, he immigrated to Israel in the mid to late 1800’s and helped build up the land.  He personally drained the malaria-mosquito infected swamps near Jerusalem, allowing people to settle there safely, helped found Hadassha Hospital as well as others, and was both a rabbi to teach and give rulings as well as to help people in an amazing way.  Just for example, when he was over 70 I think, he found a neighbor who always went to Shule on Shabbos was not there one Shabbos.  He was afraid the neighbor may have been ill, but his house was surrounded by a tall fence so he could not get in to check.  So, on Shabbos, he climbed onto the roof of a neighboring house (with an axe in hand), jumped off the roof to land into the yard of this person, breaking both legs in the process, and with two broken legs, ran to his locked door, chopped it down with axe, found the man unconscious.  He called an ambulance which took the man to the hospital and thereby saved his life.

Rabbi Sonenfeld represented the “right wing” of Orthodoxy, but loved and helped everyone to the point Chaim Weitzman (a secular Zionist leader) said it is hard to argue with R. Sonenfeld because of his love for everyone.  This book is the BEST history I have seen of the disputes between Zionism and many orthodox, as well as the disputes within orthodoxy.  I think it accurately describes the positions, views, and actions of people on all sides, and it is sometimes uncomfortable to read, but I think it is truly an accurate and unbiased account that cannot be readily found elsewhere.

When the Zionist Organization through the Jewish Agency opposed many of the plans and ideas  of Rabbi Sonenfeld, one of the leaders gave a scathing speech against the “black hand” or Rabbi Sonenfeld.  Another ardent anti-religious Zionist leader got up and corrected him and said, “When the Arabs rioted and attacked and shot you, who was it who went unarmed into the midst of the battle and with his ‘black hand’ lifted you up and personally carried you to the hospital?” 

That was Rabbi Sonenfeld.  In the midst of the battle, he would go into the battlefield, and single-handedly carried the wounded out to get medical aid.  (He was an extremely strong person.) 

It has been a while since I read the book, but as I recall:

Rabbi Sonenfeld was also fluent in Arabic and friends with the\ grand mufti of Jerusalem and well as other local Arab leaders.  He made an agreement with them to establish a Jewish State (when the British mandate would end) that would give much more land to the Jewish State than the Jewish Agency plan, including all of Jerusalem and significant amount of land to the east including much land across the Jordan encompassing almost all of modern Jordan, and the Arab leaders readily agreed to the plan because they trusted him.  The Arab leaders were against the Jewish Agency plan because they did not trust them, but they did accept the Sonenfeld plan.. 

The British then conducted a vote among the settlers of Israel to accept the Sonenfeld plan or to accept the Jewish Agency plan.  The vote was 80% for the Sonenfeld plan and 20% for the Jewish Agency plan.  The Jewish Agency then went to the British High Commissioner and had them cancel the vote.  This was a shame became the Arabs trusted Rabbi Sonenfeld, but not Ben-Gurion, and the whole picture of the Middle East might have been different had the Sonenfeld plan been accepted.  But that is for another time. 

So too, there is much more to say about Pesach (Passover)—but that will be left for later, other than one last idea:

The main idea is that the story is historically true, and the celebration is NOT one of “freedom” that we could add to the Passover Seder other stories of slavery and oppression.  As important as helping others is, such additions are wrong because they are contradictory to the main theme of the Seder:   It is a special story of a contract between G-D and the Jewish people wherein it states explicitly in the book of Exodus that G-D took the Jews out of Egypt and not be servants of Pharaoh on condition the Jews agree to be the servants of G-D—which is not a generic statement left to be defined by anyone the way he or she wishes—but a very specific written contract whereby Jews bind themselves forever to following all the Laws of the Torah, including keeping kosher, keeping the Sabbath, not intermarrying and following many other laws that G-D says best, even if not currently “politically correct.”

G-D did not issues these laws as a dictator declaring a random series of “do’s” or “don’t’s,” but as a loving Father who wants to protect His children.  Just as a parent may stop a young child from crossing the street without first looking, or from jumping out a window, or playing with fire—to protect the child physically, so too, even though we cannot see our soul, the soul does exist, does live, and does need to be protected to be healthy, and G-D, who is the only one who can see our souls is giving us loving parental guidance to keep our souls healthy.  Passover is the celebration of the Jewish people’s commitment to G-D by following His laws, and G-D’s commitment to the Jewish people to protect them from physical and spiritual harm if they follow his immutable Laws, as described in the Torah.       

The 8 Steps You Need To Take To Become A Tutor

Do you excel in a school subject? Do you enjoy helping others learn and grow? If you answered yes to both of these questions then entering the world of tutoring could be an extremely exciting way to spend your time. As a tutor, you will have the ability put your expertise to good use and help someone reach their full potential. If this sounds interesting to you, but you do not know where to begin, I am here to help. Here are 8 steps that you can take right now to become a tutor.

1) Prepare To Teach

If you are interested in becoming a tutor then chances are you already know what you would like to teach. However, if your expertise is broad, covering a vast array of topics in one particular subject, try focusing in on your favorite disciplines.

2) Gain Recognition

As you look to grow your client base, it is very helpful if you have achieved recognition of your qualifications. A degree or other official documentation will likely be necessary to show parents that you are in fact an expertise in that topic. If can also be helpful to participate in online forums or write articles for relevant journals as you look to establish yourself as an authoritative voice in your disciple.

3) Consult An Attorney

If you want to tutor school children then there will likely be rules and laws concerning your area. Make sure that you have consulted with an attorney to make sure you are doing whatever you need to do to stay within the law.

4) Understand The Curriculum

Familiarize yourself with the curriculum or syllabus that you are going to teach. This will help you maximize the effectiveness of your lesson plans. You should prepare your lessons and then practice them. This will help you stay organized and know exactly what needs to be done each lessons.

5) Make Your Lessons Interesting And Interactive

Children tend to have short attention spans, especially when it comes to studying. That is why it is up to you to make a good lessons that students will enjoy. If you spark their interest in the topic it will open them up to the wonder of discovery. Instead of dreading a tutoring session, they will come in with a desire to learn.

6) Put Your Name Out There

Now that you have built the foundation of what you would like to teach and have the tools and place to help children exceed in the classroom, you need to get your name out there. Advertise your services online and make sure people know that you exist.

7) Sign Up For PayPal

If you are going to go into business for yourself, it can be very helpful if you open a PayPal account. Why is this the case? Having the ability to offer credit card payments could be the difference between getting a client or not. It is extremely convenient for both parties.

8) Talk To People You Know

Speak with your friends, family, and colleagues about your tutoring services. Offer them a discount if they tell their friends, or volunteer to tutor for a little while so that they can test you out and you can build a solid reputation in your area.

5 Essential Gardening Tips To Prepare For Spring

For most gardeners, this is a quiet time of the year, but it won’t stay that way much longer. Spring will be arriving soon, and this means that we will all soon be caught up the frenzy of preparing our gardens for the warm weather. To help everyone get a jump on their garden work, I would like to provide you with five essential tips. If you take care of these five things now, your spring will be a lot less hectic!

1) Order Bulbs & Seeds

There are a number of summer-flowering bulbs that will benefit from an early spring planting. Plan ahead and go get your Lilies, Gladiolus, and Ranunculus now. That way your garden will be ready for a colorful summer display earlier than anyone else.

2) Clear Flower Beds

If you have a warmer day, get outside and tidy up your flower beds and borders. Remove the leaves and debris from the borders, lawns, and ponds. You should also cut back the old dead growth of deciduous grasses and herbaceous perennials now. If the soil is workable then you could even dig a 5cm layer of organic matter, such as well-rotted manure, compost or recycle green waste into empty garden borders.

3) Sow Seeds That Need Longer Season

If you have not already started, you should start to sow seeds of plants that require a longer growing season. This includes Geraniums (Pelargoniums), Begonias, Antirrhinums, Peppers and Aubergines. You will want to grow these in a heated propagator (or something similar) to encourage good growth. For a more comprehensive list of seeds to sow early in the year, take a look at this page.

4) Remove Garden Pests

Taking the time to hunt down and remove hibernating pests now can save you a lot of trouble when spring and summer comes around. You should take a close look at the crowns of your perennial plants, which is where you may find slugs, snails, and aphid colonies sheltering for the winter. Also, if you have not yet cleared last year’s pots of summer bedding then do this now!

5) Clean Gardening Tools

It is incredibly important to regularly clean and sharpen your tools. Caring for your garden tools will help preserve them, and save you a lot of money over the long run. It also helps to prevent the spread of disease in the garden. Dirty secateurs may introduce bacteria and fungi to fresh pruning wounds. Sharpening your tools will help improve their effectiveness, making it much easier to work in the garden.

What Does The Milky Way Galaxy Look Like?

Astronomers have taken advantage of a unique telescope, which allowed them to capture an incredibly detailed image of the southern region of our Milky Way galaxy. The telescope, Atacama Pathfinder EXperiment (APEX), is located on the Chajnantor Plateau in Chile.

The images captured by the astronomers give us an unprecedented look at the cold dense gas distribution along the Milky Way’s galactic plane. Check out the spectacular images below to see the Milky Way galaxy in a never before seen way.


This comparison shows the central regions of the Milky Way observed at different wavelengths. Via ESO


As you probably noticed, these images are not exactly the wondrous swirls that we normally see when looking at other spiral galaxies. The reason for this occurrence is because we are looking at the galactic plane head on.

There have been other telescopes that have helped map out the northern region of the Milky Way galaxy, such as the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope. However,  this new mapping of the southern region makes way for the inclusion of the Galactic Centre.

The Atacama Pathfinder EXperiment is comprised of very sensitive instruments, one of which is known as the LArge BOlometer Camera (LABOCA), which is used to measure incoming radiation. LABOCA conducts these measurements by detecting subtle spikes in temperature and emissions of stellar light that are obscured by cold dark dust bands, eventually revealing previously hidden portions of the Milky Way galaxy.

Commenting on the discovery was Timea Csengeri of the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn Germany, stating that “ATLASGAL provides exciting insights into where the next generation of high-mass stars and clusters form. By combining these with observations from Planck, we can now obtain a link to the large-scale structures of giant molecular clouds.”

These new images have raised some interesting questions, namely, how do we even know what our galaxy looks like? Due to the fact that we are living inside it, there is no real way for us to get an accurate look at the Milky Way.

Trying to take an image of the Milky Way is like trying to take a picture of an entire house while you are inside it. Our galaxy is around 100,000 light-years across, meaning it would take us quadrillions of years to travel to its edge to get a picture of the galaxy from the outside.

However, we have been able to render fairly accurate representations of our large spiral galaxy. By recognizing similar structures, we have been able to identify which galaxies look most like our own. Unfortunately, we may never have a true picture of what the galaxy looks like. These new images are nonetheless a great step in the right direction towards a more comprehensive image of our galaxy.

I recommend that you check out this video below from Mark Reid, Senior Radio Astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, as he maps out the Milky Way from the inside out.

ACT vs. SAT: What Is The Right Test For You?

DavidSeffTutoringThe ACT and SAT have both rolled out some changes recently, changes which have made the tests much more similar than ever before. However, these changes do not mean that the ACT and SAT are interchangeable tests. There are still a number of important differences between the two tests. Depending on your personal testing style, you will likely score much better on one test over the other. That is why it is important for you to understand the advantages and disadvantages of each test so that you can get the highest score possible.

What To Figure Out Before Diving Into The Specifics:

What Do Your Top Choice Schools Prefer?

While a number of schools accept both tests, there are some that still only accept one or have a strong preference for one test over another. If the schools that you are interested in have a strong preference for one of the tests, then you should focus all your efforts on the test that will be most readily accepted by your schools of choice.

What Is Your Application Timetable?

Both tests are offered at certain times of the year. However, the SAT offers many more opportunities to take the test over the course of the year. To ensure that you are properly prepared to take the test, you may want to choose the test that will provide you the necessary amount of time to prepare for the test.

Take A Practice Run

While this advice can help guide you in the right direction, you should not make any final decisions until after you have actually taken a full practice test. Although you will have to devote a lot of time towards taking and scoring these practice tests, you will definitely thank yourself for putting in the time at the beginning. You will be spending a considerable amount of time studying for the exam, so you might as well figure out what test you like more and are better at already.

Here Are The Important Distinctions Between The ACT And SAT:

Precision vs. Generalization

The ACT places a greater emphasis on discrete information while the SAT looks to highlight the student’s ability to generalize information. These principles are not absolute on either test; you will need to do a little of both on each test. However, if you are stronger at one over the other, you may be more inclined to take the test that emphasizes these strengths.

Reading Comprehension Speed

For each passage in the reading section on the SAT, you will have about 13 minutes to answer 10 questions. On the ACT, you will only have about 8½ minutes to complete the same number of questions. If you struggle with comprehending the meaning of a reading passage, the SAT may be the better test for you.


Even though the SAT had a major overhaul, they still did not add a science section. If you have performed well in your science classes at school, then you should capitalize on this strength by taking the ACT. Furthermore, if you are looking to go into one of the STEM fields, the ACT gives you the opportunity to showcase your skills in ways the SAT does not.

Test Pace

The ACT (215) has a lot more questions than the SAT(154). The SAT also gives you more time: 180 minutes total (plus 50 for the essay) compared to 175 minutes (50 for the essay) for the ACT. With that in mind, the SAT definitely has a much slower pace to it, while the ACT will have you moving through the questions at a faster pace.

3 Simple Gardening Hacks You Probably Didn’t Know About

Gardening is a very worthwhile activity to take up. You can plant flowers to spruce up your garden, adding color and vibrant life. Or, you can even grow your own produce, therefore allowing yourself to eat healthy and feel the satisfaction of creating your own food. Whatever type of gardening you like, gardening is a fantastic way to get some sunlight and do something rewarding. But even the most experienced gardeners have room for improvement. Here are some easy tips that can make you gardening experience even better.

1) For acid-loving plants, add tea or coffee grounds

While each plant has its own required care, there are some plants that love acids. These plants include camellias, rhododendrons, gardenias, azaleas, and blueberries. These plants thrive when you acidify the soil. How does one do this, you may ask? An easy way to add acidity to the soil is to use leftover tea or coffee grounds. Once a month, sprinkle about a quarter of an inch of the tea or coffee grounds on the soil. This way, the pH of the soil will remain on the acidic side, and your acid-loving plants will flourish!

2) Use a tool with a long handle as a measuring stick

If you are into gardening, you’re likely to have a long-handled garden tool. In order to use it as a measuring stick, simply lay it to the ground and place a tape measure next to it. Write inch and foot marks on the handle with a permanent marker and voila! You’ve got a measuring stick! Now, if you need to space your plants a certain distance apart, you can just use the very gardening tool that you have next to you to measure the distance between the plants.

3) The best place to dry herbs is in your car

So the recipe for the food you want to cook requires dry herbs. The good news: You have some fresh and delicious herbs growing in your own garden. The bad news: Drying herbs can be a tedious task. Here is a simple solution: place a sheet of newspaper on the seat of your car and place the herbs in a single layer on top of the newspaper. Then, roll up the car windows and close the doors of the car. Now, all you have to do is wait–but not nearly as long you would have to wait if you dried the herbs in any other setting. This hack allows your herbs to be dried to perfection in just a short period of time. And, it makes your car smell fantastic. And air freshener for your car and a healthy treat? What more could you want?!

Gardening is an amazing pastime, with some not-so-amazing obstacles. But luckily, you can use simple household items to make your gardening experience easier and more enjoyable. With these hacks, not only will you be a much more efficient gardener, but you will be able to see the results and reap the benefits. Your garden will look more beautiful and you’ll be able to cook delicious food with the produce you grow. If you want to improve your gardening experience, the answer may not be buying fancy new tools. It might be just using items you can find right in your home!

For more gardening tips and advice, please check out my Gardening Blog.

7 Essential Tips To Prepare Your Garden For The Winter

7 Essential Tips To Prepare Your Garden For The Winter from David Seff on Vimeo.

The colors are beginning to fade and your crops have all been harvested for food. This can only mean one thing: autumn is coming to a close and everyone is bracing for the cold winter weather, including your garden. But this does not mean your work in the garden is over until next spring. Autumn is actually an extremely important time to get in the garden to help ensure its health for the upcoming season. Here are 7 tips to make sure your garden is prepared for winter.