Showing posts from 2008

disclosure in shidduchim

See R' Aviner on the subject -- this is in English -- at

Halachic Weddings -- this may surprise you

So does not a photographer and various guest milling about constitute public? Long ago I blogged as follows:
A Touchy SubjectThursday, October 26th, 2006Please pardon the pun above.Actually this post came about unintentionally.In the course of gathering info on what frum NY wedding costs, I got a number of interesting responses. One of them included the following:. Some rabbanim (a growing number) are recommending doing all but the touching pictures before the chuppah bec it’s getting rediculous, let alone the lack of kavod for your guests to make them wait for 2 hours while you take pictures. People have lives, especially community leaders who may not be staying for the entire wedding. Some rabbanim (much fewer) are allowing taking even touching pictures (so I’ve heard). I have my own strong view on the “touching pictures,” but I won’t bring them up here so that you can feel free to express your opinion on these opinions.
What I only hinted at was that I do not find such pictures…

A Tall Order

Apparently, now to be "good for shidduchim," a kallah maidel needs not only to reflect the "right" hashkafos through a certificate of a proper BY education for seminary as well as high school, as well, as working, ideally, in a chinuch, but she has to fit the physical ideal that includes a minimum height. Now I am certain that all the bochurim in Lakewood or their equivalent have not suddenly shot up above 6 feet tall, yet it seems that they (or those who speak for them) are demanding girls of 5'5". Hey, even I am just 5'41/2", yet I am quite average height and taller than a lot of my counterparts. So what gives with the height requirement? Remember, I am not talking about a girl saying she would like her prospective husband to be above 5 feet tall but of a boy who rules out a girl because she is too petite.

Good for Shidduchim: a modest proposal for a blog

Recently, I noticed that one of the blogs that are not anonymous switched from public to "open only to those invited." I just had the opportunity to ask that blogger why he closed off access. He responded that he did so at the insistence of his children "in the parsha." They -- at least the daughter -- maintain that his blog has a negative effect on their shidduch prospects. I was somewhat surprised because the blog is usually on Torah rather than controversial topics. But, I supose just about anything that does not strictly toe the party line may be construed as deviant, and, consequently, bad for shidduchim. There is a even a blog (completely unrelated to the blog I refer to), that offers commentary on the current shidduch scenario.

So I proposed that the blogger who is no longer public start a blog called "Good for Shidduchim" in which he can spout just right views on all the relevant issues for those inv…

a rabbinic view on the amen and challah gatherings

My husband subscribes to R' Aviner's email list. In the one copied below, he addresses the 4 questions you see listed. I only kept in the first two. Josh W. may wish to contrast his response on lifeguards with R' Falk's. I still have the Oz Vehadar book, in which he cites R' Moshe for the heter of a male lifeguard but misrepresents R' Moshe's argument in saying that it is ok to have a male lifeguard who is not a Jew. On the "Amen" gatherings, R' Aviner says it is not forbidden but rather new-fangled. Now, when something is suggested for women that people associate with feminism, the new-fangled quality is considered enough to categorically prohibit, say, a woman dancing with a sefer Torah on Simchas Torah or reciting Kaddish on the grounds of Poretz Geder. However, when the practice is adopted by women who dress the practice in the guise of feminine spirituality that is not to be associated with feminism, then they are usually considere…

book on halachos of marital relations

I accompanied my son and husband to the seforim store today. While they went in search of what my son wanted (some in stock, some had to be ordered), I browsed through some of the marriage books on the shelf. I would love some reader feedback on this.

In the book, Guidelines: Questions and Answers about the Laws of Family Purityby Elozor Barclay, Yitzchok Jaeger Targum Press, 2004, on p. 135 there is a text given for a "bracho" (though it lacks shem and malchus) for the groom to say upon his bride's confirmation of dam bethulim. It begins Baruch ata asher zag egoz began eden . . . and concludes habocher bezro shel Avraham.
I have never come across the concept of this text; it was, certainly, not mentioned by my kallah instructor or any of the books on the subject I've encountered up until this point. Yet, the book does not present it as a novel or merely suggested idea but as a given that this is what is done. Anyone else heard of this?

The second book of note is Ta…

The winter issue of Kallah Magazine is now online

I usually delay uploading the PDF a bit longer. But someone who lives outside distribution area asked for the issue to be made available online. So I put it up now I tested it a number of times with 2 browsers. Mozilla still shows an error at download though it does show the PDF. It works just fine on IE, though. It is also linked to from the home page but you can go directly to

rant on (kosher) supermarkets

We now have no fewer than 5 area kosher supermarkets in the 5 Towns and Far Rockaway. You would think that the competition will keep them all on their toes. Sadly, that is not quite the case. This week I shopped at 3 different ones -- and more than once at two of them. So here are my complaints. One is more minor but it took up quite a bit of time. I was looking for crockpot liners and couldn't find any. Logic would dictate they should be in aisle 9 of that store, but I remember from previous times that they were actually located one aisle over, so I scoured, 7,8,and 9 a few times, literally looking high and low. Finally, I gave up and went to check out. When I spotted one of the people who work there, I asked him about the liners. He said that they have not been able to obtain any more. OK.
Complaint number 2 --this store keeps changing its prices on milk, which is somewhat disconcerting because most groceries keep that pretty standard. So this week, they advertised El…

Kallah Magazine Winter Issue

The magazine was already distributed in the 5 Towns, Far Rockaway, Queens, Flatbush, and Borough Park. It should be in Baltimore and Teaneck by next week. Pick up your copy to read Rabbi Slatkin on rededicating your relationship, Rabbi Brown on Tu B'Shvat, Mimi Samuels on kallah classes, Nancy Zwiebach on "Signals for Singles" Ms. Maven's advice on the wedding venue, Levana's guidelines to preparing crockpot and soup dishes to warm you up, Debby Grossman on lipstick, and the Money Matters feature on the book Don't Throw it Out!

On the ruby segula

I have posted on the topic of sgulas in the past. I also once did a post on a proposed ruby gmach for women to borrow ruby jewelry either as a sgula to prevent miscarriage and/or have a easy birth. Gem quality rubies are rarer than diamonds, which is why any more affordable piece containing a ruby larger than a chip would likely incorporate a synthetic stone. In fact, you can find synthetic ruby pendants for under $30. I checked online. So I was wondering, can these gmachs purchase the affordable synthetic stones, or would only the natural gems be considered efficacious?

The RALBAG vs. Chazal on the Time Frame in Parshas Vayetze

According to Seder Olam, all the shvatim except Binaymin were born within 7 years, and all the pregnancies were curtailed to 7 months. The RALBAG is aware of this but finds difficulty with such a phenomenon and the fact that then Yehudah would perforce have had to become a father while still under 13 and married his sons to Tamar while they were younger than 13 -- soemthing he finds very difficult to accept. So he learns the pshat for the order of events quite differently than Rashi does. He says that Yaakov did not work 7 years then marry Leah and a week later marry Rachel. Rather that he contracted to work 7 years for Lavan, had the wedding right away, discovered the switch and then agreed to work an additional 7 years for a total of 14 after marrying Rachel a week after Leah. He argues that when Yaakov demands his wife (29:21) "ki maloo yamay," [for my days have filled] he is not saying that his days of work have been completed but that his lifetime has advanced, f…

A blog recovery!

When I switched from WordPress to Blogger, I thought my old posts were gone forever. But Josh Waxman has now directed to me to where they can be found. So I have put the link up on the sidebar. But if you wish to comment on an old post, you would have to do so either via email or in a comment here. Here is the link to the archive of the WordPress Kallah Magazine blog:*/

in time of famine

Last year, I grappled with the question of Yitzchak and Rivka not abstaining from marital relations during a famine when Yosef is said to have done so. Alas the KallahMagazine blog posts of last year have been obliterated from existence. But the Divrei Chaim did pick up on the issue, as you can see here:
During this year's layning of Parashas Toldos, I thought of another possible explanation, though it would have to rely on the principle of events presented out of strict chronological order. During the famine, Yitzchak and his family travel to Gerrar, as Hashem told him not to leave Eretz Yisrael. Just like his father had, Yitzchak tells the people of the region that his good-looking wife is his sister. The difference is that whereas Sarah was instantly taken for the king -- both in Egypt and in Gerrar -- this king is more cautious. He allows many days to pass and seems to keep the purported brother…

Are worms worth it?

I know someone who has made a point of arriving at Kmart at 6 AM the day after Thanksgiving for the Early Bird Black Friday specials. As I have pointed out to him, though, the toys, etc., stay on sale for weeks following. For example, the kitchen set toy he lugged home in the dawn's early light was still around for pretty much the same price after that day. Nevertheless, people allow themselves to whipped into a frenzy of shopping. I just received an email from Kohl's informing me that the store will open at 4 AM. That's right, you can get up at 3 in the morning to be among the first at the store. But why should you, when the early bird specials are available until 1 PM? I suppose that they would like to make it seem that the best bargains will be snatched right away. But, in fact, the store has been promoting holiday shopping for the past several weeks already with the holiday decorations on display and the music of the season piping into shoppers' ears.

Rivka and Yitzchak

The second patriarch and matriarch are the couple of choice for those with an inclination to the right. A shadchan is entrusted with making the match for the young couple. The bride leaves her home to join her husband where he resides. The husband marries the young woman chosen for him;he comes to love her after marriage. Rivka proves to be the docile ideal who covers hides behind her scarf when she first sees her intended and seems to keep herself under wraps, as well, avoiding any direct confrontation with her husband. Unlike Sarah, she does not tell her husband directly what she thinks should be done about the differences between their two sons. Instead, she has to orchestrate a rather elaborate ruse to get Yitzchak to utter the blessing for Yaakov. (The only time we see her speaking directly to Yitzchak is when she seeks a way to get Yaakov out of Esav's reach and so declares that her younger son must go abroad to find his wife, so that not all their daughters-in-law wi…

Not Negotiable

This past Shabbos, Rabbi Friedman spoke about the episdoe of Avraham's purchase of maaras hamchpela from Ephron. Chazal are critical of Ephron who was a big talker -- saying "you want the field, take it; I give it to you as a gift" -- who didn't even do a little, for when it came down to the actual sale, he exacted a high price. Now if Avraham knew that the price was a high, why did he not bargain it down? (One would think that bargaining would have ensued no matter what price was quoted.) It is possible that Avraham could have obtained the property at a cheaper price. But in this case, he did not want the seller to have any regrets about the sale that would reslt in his claiming to have been forced into the transaction. Rabbi Friedman pointed out that Avraham was avoiding a situation in which the seller may have any negative feeling about the deal by paying the full asking price. There are situations in which the impression one is making is of far greater v…

The Marriage of Avraham and Sarah

From the glimpses we have of the relationships of the Avos and Immahos related in the Torah, it is clear that one size does not fit all as the model of marriage.

Sarah is very direct with Avraham. She tells him what she wants him to do, complains about situations she does not like, and takes action openly. She does not resort to going behind her husband's back to convince him to do what she wants by having someone else tell him to do so, as some people today suggest in their marriage advice. Would anyone say that there was a lack of Shalom Bayis between Avraham and Sarah because she was not passive and indirect? That would be a most ludicrous assertion.

First, Sarah tell her husband to take Hagar as a wife. Then when Hagar treats her with less regard, Sarah complains to Avraham who assures her that she is still mistress over the maid. It is notable that Avraham does not exclaim at Sarah complaining about a situation that she brought about herself by coming up with the plan for…

Well, this one takes the cake

In the course of calling up potential advertisers, I encounter a lot of excuses fornot being able to discuss the matter at the time. Some are mazel tovs. Three people I called last week had babies of their own or grandchildren. Today's excuse was not something you would wish mazel tov for, but it certainly is too original to be made up. The person I called today said that it was not a good time because he was on his way to prison. Not, mind you, that he had just been arrested. Rather, he was going to see a friend there. But still, the "can't talk now, on my way to jail" certainly tops my list for a call deferred.

Do the ends justify the means?

This post is not my usual sort of thing. It is a reaction to the article in this week's Jewish Star, "Obscene billboard still in plain sight on Rockaway Turnpike" by Michael Orbach. I've seen the billboard in question while driving past. I actually would call it a sign because it is posted over the building of the "gentlemen's club" it is meant to advertise. The woman who is pictured in this sign is very provocatively clad. Is this something I find personally offensive? Yes. But I find quite a number of public displays personally offensive. For example, I find many of the images flashed on the TV screen in my gym's machine room equally offensive with women clad just about the same way dancing or otherwise displaying themselves on what I assume is the MTV channel. I alsofind some of the lyrics of the music pumped over the speakers offensive. And this is the gym that caters to the frum women in the area!
But what I consider inappropriate, mo…

Force of Habit and Fear

Today is Veterans Day -- a legal holiday on a Federal level. That means that banks are closed, district school buses are not running (though my children have school today) and that meters are NOT in effect. While the good people of Cedarhurst must be well aware of the first two items on the list, they show themselves to have forgotten the day with respect to the last item. On Central Avenue I took note and saw not a single meter without time on it. In the parking lot between Spruce and Washington the results were mixed with a few fed meters among the unfed. But the people parking on Central have been so trained by the sight of relentless metermaids (and one man) and the tickets slapped on the windshield the instant a meter runs out that they are afraid to risk parking without depositing their quarters.

I would guess that the group think effect is at work here. Someone may park and rejoice upon exit at being able to keep the quarter within his/her own possession. But then the par…

Beware of schoolbus drivers

Yesterday I took the Defensive Driving Course offered through AARP. No, I am not yet over 50, but the course is open to all area residents at my local library. For an investment of $10 and one day (which was actually shorter due to our early dismissal), I qualify for significant savings on my auto insurance. I took the same class through the same venue 3 years ago, so it was time to renew. The essence of each class is the same, but the video presentation and text get modified slightly, and each instructor puts his (each time I've taken this class, the instructor was male) own spin on things.

What this instructor alerted us to was something that sounds like a scheme cooked up between school bus drivers and police officers who wish to increase their ticket distribution. The law in NY is that drivers must stop 20 feet back from school buses with flashing lights, even on the other side of a divided highway. The law also allows the driver to pass if after passing the driver waves …

Barbie as the anti-ideal

I just came across this article on
Unfortunately, the author is no longer accessible. But it is interesting to see her take and the defenses of allowing children to play with the dolls that follow. Now it is true, that Barbie is not an icon of tznius, nor is her body type one that is within the realm of possibility for most people. But do toys shape our self-image, or are they tools for imaginative play? I recently passed on my daughters' Barbie dolls to my niece because they never were very enamored of this type doll, and even my youngest clings only to a single baby doll. My sister's reaction was that her daughter would like them, but she was concerned about their presence with her teen boys.

Sheitels -- Hair to Stay?

Below is the article on the subject I published a few years ago, “The Advent of the American Sheitel.” QueensCollege Journal of Jewish Studies. Vol. VI (Spring 2004) 93-101.
The Advent of the American Sheitel. For Jews who wish to be accepted as Americans rather than viewed as different, the right look is essential. Particularly for women, fashioning oneself into the American mold calls for attaining the correct female form. As Susan Weidman Schneider writes in Jewish and Female, “Assimilation for Jewish women has often meant trying to change the way we look,” as the fall prey to the “’straightening’ syndrome. They follow the dictates “straighten your hair, your teeth, your body, you nose, your house,” so that you may achieve “’acceptability’” (Schneider 245).
 In American society, the evident ethnicity of hair covering was unacceptable, so the modern minded discarded the sheitels (wigs) that were traditionally worn by married women. However, in recent years, the sheitel has reem…

When your budget limits beer can someone else pick up the tab for champagne?

See the discussion that ensued at
which includes the post "Don't Mind the Budget Gap"

My take on ayin hara

In Parashas Lech Lecha, according to Rashi 16:5, we see the effect of ayin hara. After Hagar conceives, she loses her regard for Sarah. Sarah is very upset by the situation and comes down hard on her maid, who, consequently flees. She is then told by Divine messenger to return to her mistress and take whatever Sarah wishes to dole out to her. She is also assured that she will be pregnant. Rashi explains that Sarah had put ayin hara on her, which caused her to miscarry the first pregnancy. So what did Sarah do here? Did she make a voodoo doll of Hagar and stick her with pins? Did she cast a spell? Did she utter a curse? I don't think any of those actions can be ascribed to Sarah Immeinu.

What I think happened is that once Hagar ceased to treated Sarah with the respect she deserved, she became subject to strict judgment. Sarah's thought about her own ill treatment due to Hagar's lording it over her would have made an impression in the Heavenly court. That would have…

Are you prepared to make a judgment?

"'It drives me mad to hear people say: 'Don't be judgmental.' That's moral philosophy at the level of an Australian soap opera. If people weren't judgmental, how could we possibly have a moral viewpoint in society? We wouldn't have the first clue where we were. All rational discourse about what we should do would grind to a half. No, whtever you do, don't fall that weak-minded nonsense about not being judgmental. Don't be excessively judgmental, if you like, but always -- always -- be prepared to make a judgment. Otherwise you'll go through life not really knowing what you mean."

The little tirade above are the words spoken by a fictional Scottish woman in her early 60's in Espresso Tales by Alexander McCall Smith. New York: Anchor Books, 2006. p. 49.

On promoting shidduchim

"I think it's our duty -- everyone's duty -- to fix up; single women and single men, preferably for purposes of matrimony. We who actually know them surely are better than those computer dating services at figuring out their potential compatibility, plus it's exceedingly unlikely that any person we fix up is going to turn out to be a serial killer. .. we shouldn't be discouraged by matchmaking failures or even by matchmaking catastrophes. For eventually, like me, you may after many misses make the perfect match, turning two people -- two stranger who wouldn't have met if we had minded our own business -- into one quite happily married couple."
from Judith Viorst in Alexander and the Wonderful, Marvelous, Excellent, Terrific Ninety Days. New York: Free Press 2007 p. 64

Advice for parents and in-law

from Judith Viorst in Alexander and the Wonderful, Marvelous, Excellent, Terrific Ninety Days. New York: Free Press 2007. p. 54

These are the statements she had to tell herself while her son, daughter-in-law and their 3 children stayed with them for 3 months
"Don't judge, advise, or criticize.
Respect their boundaries and choices.
Accept who they are."

As for the person your child has married,
"when a friend once said to me, 'What am I going to do? I really don't like the woman my son has married,' I a -- a great believer in family intactness -- had only one answer to offer: 'Learn to like her.'"


A very good discussion about it within the frum community is posted on

the one in a thousand

for honesty. I am in the throes of making sales calls for the winter issue of Kallah Magazine. I just had to report that there was one person who voluntarily told me what he pays for his ads currently after exclaiming on how reasonable my magazine's ad prices are. I do appreciate his honesty because most people will just automatically say, "that is too high" just to try to haggle me down. They will claim that they are paying less for their current ads or that they always get a particularly high discount off the rate card and expect the same from me. You see, others send out higher prices so that their customers can feel that they've "won" when they get the discount that brings the price down to what the publisher had in mind in the first place. For example the man I spoke with told me he pays $450, and that price is presented as a break on the "actual" price of $500.

Bereishis on marriage

When Adam finds his mate in Chava, he exclaims, "zos hapa'am, etzem meatazamya ubasar mibesari, lazos yikare isha ki meish lukacha zos." He stresses that the woman is bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh and so should be called isha [woman] because she is taken from ish [man] (2: 23). This is followed by a narrator's comment that clearly does not apply to our first couple who were not born from other parents, "al ken ya'azov ish es aviv ve'es imo vedavak beishto vehayu lebasar echad. [Therefore, a man will leave his father and his mother and will cleave onto his wife, and they will be one flesh.] This verse is the source for forbidden marital relationships for b'nei Noah as recorded in Sanhedrin. So we go from the realization of the first couple to the prohibition of incest. It occurred to me that there is a logic to the juxtapositon. If Adam's stress is that he knows this is the right wife for him because he and she stem from the same st…

gym lessons, ethics and manners

My girls are members of a children's gym. When they came back from it today, one daughter reported that my youngest one hit another child with a ball. Let me clarify that this was an accident that her older sister attributes to her poor aim. How poor her aim is debatable. But one point that was not debatable in my mind is the necessity for her to apologize to the child she hit. I was very reassured to learn that she did even though it was at the behest of the manager. He was quite right to "make her," to use my daughter's term as I was not present to "make her" do it myself. Causing someone else to be hit, hurt, or pushed is wrong even without malicious intent. The same goes for depriving someone of sleep by engaging in noisy activities such as using power tools after 11 PM. The fact that anyone would think otherwise simply astounds me.

The concept of being dan lekaf zchus is to give the other person the benefit of the doubt, like, s/he may have h…

Seeking some Sukkoth inspiration?

For menu and decorating ideas (all perfect for those among us who are budget conscious) see the creative tips, tutorials, and printable signs from a blogger who is full of fresh ideas at

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Make a political statement with your sheitel

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The power of a single word could sway a shidduch

Sway: The Irresistible Pull of Irrational Behaviorby Ori Brafman and Rom Brafman (Hardcover - Jun 3, 2008) touches on a number of studies where planting a bias -- a label of a person fabricated for the sake of the psychological research -- determines how that subject will be assessed, whether for attractiveness, intelligence, liveliness, or amiability.

In one example, students were given a bio of a substitute before he entered their class. There were 2 versions of this bio; the only difference, though, was that one described him as "warm" and the other as "cold." After the class, students wrote up an assessment. All the ones who had been given the "warm" bio gave a positive review and all the ones with the "cold" bio gave a negative one -- two opposing views from students in the same class resulted from the bias that was planted. The authors mention the same type of dynamics could work for someone on a blind date. A certain remark might be…