Don’t be a Tsooler!

Don’t be a Tsooler!

One of the bonuses of being the mother of several Israeli teenagers is that I’m intimately familiar with the latest Israeli slang.

I try not to do any fadichot to my kids–mortify them in public.

I try not to be choferet–repetitive and boring.

And I try to only give them presents that are shaveh–awesome.

The newest slang word my teenagers taught me is Tsooler. Tsooler rhymes with cooler, but that’s where the similarities between these two words end.

Tsooler is actually an acronym for the phrase “Tsadik v’Ra Lo,” the tsaddik who suffers, a person who is very religious and very miserable.

I thought of this word today when I heard a story about a person who was the polar opposite of Tsooler–Rabbi Noach Weinberg zt”l, the founder of Aish HaTorah.

At today’s Emuna Day Conference, Rabbi Nivin shared the following story: “Many years ago I was speaking with a beginner student at Aish HaTorah, and I suggested to him to write up a list of questions that he could ask if he ever ran into a great, wise person.”

“A few weeks later I saw this student, and asked him if he had written up the list. He told me excitedly that he had– and it had worked! He had found himself in the elevator standing beside Rosh Yeshiva Rabbi Weinberg himself…”

“So what question did you ask him?” Rabbi Nivin asked.

“I asked him how he reached such a high madrega, spiritual level.”

“And what did he answer you?” Rabbi Nivin asked, intrigued.

“Rabbi Weinberg told me, ‘Believe me, you and are on the same spiritual level. The only difference between us is that I have complete clarity about what is truly pleasurable in life.”

The truest pleasure, Rabbi Weinberg implies, isn’t found in triple-scoop sundaes and 5-star vacations and the newest video games. The truest pleasure is found by connecting deeply with Hashem–through prayer, through the Torah, through mitzvot.

Which made me reflect on tsoolers and not becoming one…

Part of being a happy religious person is about having balance in our lives. Doing things that give us pleasure in addition to the many obligations in our lives as mothers and Jews.

But another part of guarding ourselves from Tsooler-ville is seeing not just the challenges presented by our obligations, but also the earthshaking joy and light tucked away within them. Connecting with what is truly pleasurable in life.


  1. here is how צו”ל became the most recent of Israeli slangs =)

    • hilarious! thanks for sharing!!!

      • Can you translate? (What is that, “Black is the New Black”?)
        Thanks for all your great posts!

        • Basically, the rosh yeshiva is asking the students to help out a fellow student to lighten up so he will start dating. The students tell the rosh yeshiva “He’s hopeless, he’s such a Tsooler!” And the rosh yeshiva answers, “But if you help him, at least he’ll be a married tsooler!”

          They actually say “Tsool” and not “Tsooler,” I guess that’s a different way of saying it.

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