Everyday Holiness

Rabbi Barry’s Word of the Month


This old Yiddish word is usually translated as “To complain!”

I believe one of the most descriptive treatments of “Skvetch” can be found
in a book which I have packed in one of our many boxes.

So with apologies to its author, I share this memorable description of the meaning
of “Skvetch!”

A man is on a European train, in which one sits in a compartment facing another
passenger.  The other passenger, somewhat elderly, complains about his

“Oy vey, oy vey, I’m so very thirsty” he repeats and repeats.

Finally, his compartment mate, gets up, goes down the corridor, pours
some water into the little cubed paper cup, and brings it back to the

The elderly passenger eagerly swallows the water, and then immediately
starts to “sketch” again:

“Oy vey, oy vey, I was so thirsty!”

This is a true “Skevetch!”  Not only was the passenger complaining at first
about being extremely thirsty, he couldn’t cease complaining even after
being given water.  To keep complaining and complaining even after one’s
complaint has been satisfied, is to be a real Skvetch!

May all our Skevetching be mindful of the old Yiddish word,

G’nug means “Enough!”  But even more,
it really means “Enough already!!”

So let our Skvetching in the new secular year be mindful also of “G’nug!”


    A Monday Thought For Temple Sinai From Rabbi Barry
(First Published as e-mail on Oct 22, 2012)
In his book Everyday Holiness, Dr. Alan Morinis quotes Rabbi
Yosef Yozel Hurwitz, Alter of Novarodok, in these words:

     A person who tries to practice trust in God while leaving himself a
backup plan is like a person who tries to learn how to swim but
insists on keeping one foot on the ground. ( p. 209 )

As Dr. Morinis points out in his book’s chapter on Trust, or Bitachon in Hebrew, every “soul yearns to trust.”  At the same time, we accept the unpredictability of life, realizing that there is no way to predict the future.

I appreciate very much Dr. Morinis further reminding us that in the study of Mussar, the Middah, or soul-trait of “trust” really means more than just trust in isolation. Rather, we ought to expand this soul-trait to “trust in God.”

The next time a seemingly impossible challenge appears, try
to include in your thoughts and prayers a sense of trust in God.

My personal experience has taught me that my own sense of confidence about the future has been greatly strengthened when I think about trust in  this way.

Then the words of Jeremiah might become true for us as well:

Blessed be the one who trusts in the Lord and the Lord
shall be his Source of trust.     ( Jeremiah 17:7 )