Thursday, January 29, 2009

collecting for a wedding?

I have blogged about people who picks up the tab for peole with champagne tastes and beer (or even tap water) budgets Now check out Rav Aviner's teshuva that offers a different solution to the usual for those who cannot afford an elaborate wedding. See the Orthonomics post on Rav Aviner's teshuva
about collecting for wedding expenses.

Another approach that would never go over today is the potluck wedding approach that is related in the children's book: Ike and Mama and the Block Wedding by Carol Snyder. (New York : Coward, McCann & Geoghegan, 1979). It appears to be out of print now, but I do recall taking a copy out of the library for my children a couple of years ago. Granted, there would be bishul akum problems with getting all the neighbors in this multicultural gathering to pitch in, but the idea of the neighbors each contributing a part to the wedding feast for this wedding is a nice one.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Shidduch Sightings & Other Observations at Liberty Science Center

This past Sunday, we had a family outing to Liberty Science Center. It is one of the places we get free admission to through the reciprocal membership of ASTC of our Brooklyn Children's Museume Membership. While LSC charges $200 for family membership (that's a regular family of up to 4 children; there is also a "large family" membership for up to 10 people at a higher rate).
There is a small new exhibit on the space exploration program and a very elaborate visiting exhibit called "The Science of Survival." The latter is really geared toward children with warnings that by the year 2050, things may be seriously altered on earth due to environmental changes exacerbated by the carbon footprints of human activities. While it does generally push for conservation along the lines of the "eco-house" game my daughter enjoys playing on the computer, there is also one character among the British animated people that suggest technology can be a positive forcce in the environment.

Of course, some of the ideas for recycling are very old, indeed. For example, the suggestion that old clothes can be cut down and put together to form new ones -- that was the usual practice for all but the richest people back in the days when clothes were handmade, costly items. But individuals generally did them for themselves to save money. The examples of recycled clothing shown in this exhibit, on the other hand, are fashion statements that require a lot of sewing as the patches of recycled fabrics are sewn into an elaborate design. Consequently, these clothes would be very labor-instensive, and that labor would have to be paid for. As "fair trade" is another one the values advocated by this exhibit, that labor should be paid for at fair market rates, which would result in a very costly garment, indeed. And really, wearing a rather heavy strapless gown put together by patches of blue jeans makes a very particular type of fashion statemetn that is not appropriate to all occasions.

But there are some interesting ideas, like the solar oven, which is supposed to need nothing but the sun's heat alone to cook the food placed in it. If there is really no transference needed for this to work, it may not be forbidden on Shabbos. Certainly, that is something worth looking into; perhaps it could replace the crockpot for chulent.

Now about the shidduch sightings: while there were frum people around all day, around 3 pm, I noticed a small handful of couples who had the appearance of people on a shidduch date. Now, the LSC closes at 5, so I wonder is this a deliberate ploy, you know, get to a place just 2 hours before it closes so that you can terminate the date early on the basis of the time. And if the dater chooses to extend the date, it will be continued over dinner out. For those who have been in that situation, is that the planning behind the timing?

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Marriage survey

The OU is putting one out to be completed through March. I haven't gnoe on, so i don't know the nature of the questions and cannot offer my own comments, but I would love to hear yours.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Monday, January 19, 2009

Too much Too Soon

See the post on Orthonomics
that examines some categories into which young couples tend to sink too much of a financial investment, like the house, car, furniture, and baby gear.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

At what age is it a woman's giving birth not noteworthy as a miracle?

The RALBAG shares the Ibn Ezra incredulity at Chazal's including Yocheved among the 70 souls who came down to Egypt. Even if she were, as Rashi records, born between the walls, she still would have had to have been at least 130 when she had Moshe, as we know that Bnai Yisrael were in Egypt for 210 years when Moshe came before Pharoah at the age of 80. Wouldn't Sarah's giving birth at 90 pale beside that feat? So these commentators observe it would be astounding for the Torah to not comment on such a great miracle. The RALBAG suggests that Chazal were making a non-literal point but that Yocheved was not at such an advanced age. According to his calculations, Yocheved could have been a mere 58 at the time of Moshe's birth if she were born to Levy at the end of his lifetime. Giving birth at such an age is not so remarkable (especially given lifespans greater than 120 years).

Another observation of the RALBAG made me think of Mother in Israel. When Miriam offers to get a wet nurse for the infant Pharoah's daughter has found, she gets his own mother. He says there that the very best source of nourishment for a baby is his own mother's milk. (no Similac here)

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Men are from Minsk, women are from Pinsk

Actually, each side would probably say the other is from Chelm;-) I did not make up the title in my title. It comes froma posting on the 5 towns shuls list. They titlers also resort to "The Secret of . . ." in their titles. I posted about that onceThe full text is this:

On Shabbos Parshas B'shalach (February 6-7), Anshei Chesed will be hosting Rabbi Dr. Mordechai Glick, noted Psychologist and Marriage Counselor.
Many interesting topics & workshops will be held including:
Friday Night at 8 PM: The Secret Ingredient; What every couple needs to know
Seudas Shlishis (Mincha at 4:30 PM): Building marital resiliency in the face of economic downturn
Motzai Shabbos at 8:30 PM: Men are from Minsk, women are from Pinsk – understanding gender differences
Anshei Chesed is located in the Yeshiva of South Shore Building, 1170 William Street.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Gifts fit for a ben Torah

You won't find them in any gift shop -- only at

how do you get on your MIL's good side?

While some moms will simply never accept that any other female could ever care for their sons as well as they could, some may be reconciled to their loss of a son and gain of a daughter-in-law over time. And the relationship, of course, also comes up with sons-in-law.
This weekend, some women who have had experience as daughters-in-law and are now mothers-in-law mentioned a couple of pointers. One suggestion was for a daughter-in-law to call once a week. And sons-in-law could butter up their wives' moms by buying 2 Shabbos bouquets -- one for wife and one for her mother. That's what one woman's son-in-law does for her.

So any other suggestions?

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Find out how to ....

for tips on how to balance your checkbook, keep on top of your finances, plan a wedding on a budget even how to propose, see For the example, everyday shopping:
For help on popping the question, see Of course, not all articles will be useful for you, and some really do state the obvious. For example, there is an article that may give some pause about internet dating; it informs nonJews how to use JDate:' ; the first step is join Jdate

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Templates for wedding planning and more

A great selection of free downloads are available at
You;ll find templates you can use for tracking your wedding guests, putting together an album, planning your budget, as well as invitations, and business correspondence.

Monday, January 05, 2009

This is not for Kallah Magazine

My husband forwarded to me a posting on Craig's list. I find it of interest because a number of people have asked what I pay for writing. Note the compensation offered -- quite a contrast to the $150-$200 for a 750-1000 word article some people present as their price.

Wedding writer (Upper East Side)

Reply to: ---------------?]
Date: 2008-12-30, 4:37PM EST

I am looking for an excellent english writer for the wedding magazine. Portfolio needed!

  • Compensation: 20 USD per 600 words
  • This is a contract job.
  • Principals only. Recruiters, please don't contact this job poster.
  • Phone calls about this job are ok.
  • Please do not contact job poster about other services, products or commercial interests.

Bar mitzvah advice for "very simple people"

If anyone has any advice they would like to share, I can pass it on by responding to the email that appeared on the original posting. I left it off to protect the person's privacy. Something just struck me about this, particularly what was already ticked off:

I already took care of the most important things, I just want to make
sure I not forgetting anything....
I would appreciate it if someone could list the Bar Mitzvah
process...if you dont mind..You would save my life!
its my first child so I am worried that I will forget something.
We are VERY SIMPLE people....
I have a hall, photographer, musician and Tefillin, leining lessons
I know I have to make a kidddush, how does that go?

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Prayer is not just a matter of heart but of law

The following is quoted from CR Wagschal's You Can Make the Difference (Feldheim 2005) p. 145: Clearly she starts off with an assumption that women can skip the prescribed prayers so long as they feel a prayer they express in their thoughts. Her rav emphatically disagrees as you see in the quote below:
The Role of Tefilla in a Woman's Life
In a telephone conversation with my mentor, Rav Shlomo Brevda shlita, I mentioned that I would like to speak o the topic of tefila, with the focus on silent tefila, since [sic. (should be as)] so many young mothers find they have no time to daven the prescribed daily prayers.
The Rav immediately stated categotically that all women must daven, even if they do so quickly, without kavana. It is essential that children see thir mothers davening!
Rav Brevda specified that every woman should daven Birkas HaShachar together with Shema, right through to the end of Shemoneh Esrei. This is the case even if she does so quickly, without concentration. We have no idea of the multitudes of kavanos that were invested into these words. Thus anything we may say informally cannot affect the upper worlds as effectively as this authorized text.

While you would think that she should then acknowledge that she had been mistaken and will now spread the word that the antinomian approach to prayer is not halachically valid, she adds in a statement to validate her original view: "However, this does not preclude our silent prayers, which are in our minds while doing our daily household tasks." Fine, but by that token, men could also think prayers throughout the day. Yet, they still have to take a break from their activity for mincha.

The reason I posted this is that many women simply assume they have an exemption from formal prayer because how could they possibly concentrate with the kids? The answer is that it is irrelevant. I would add that a man could not just skip the morning service because he is not able to concentrate at that time. But I believe that the school schedules for girls are partially to blame. As most girls' schools run on the assumption that the girls will breakfast at home before they daven and only stipulate that they say brachos. I discussed this with my daughter's teacher last year, as we had to have her daven enough to cover the halachic requirement at home before her breakfast. The teacher really believed that the brachos only before breakfast was perfectly acceptable and admitted that she relies on it herself. Happily, though, she did not make a fuss about my daughter's deviation from this. But the implication that comes across from the expectation that girls will breakfast before they daven is that davening is not as critical for a female as for a male. Consequently, many women do not daven at all, though they still manage to find time to do exercise, watch TV, or have their nails done. Even if they don't find the time for leisure activities, though, as the rabbi quoted above and Rabbi Sacks said the same in Passaic in a women's shiur, davening is a requirement that a woman cannot skip.

Below is an excerpt from "When Trials and Tribulations Accumulate… Sermon by Rabbi Haskel Lookstein Shabbat Va-yeshev, December 20, 2008." He forwarded the text to the Ramaz families. You can find the text of the entire speech here: The suggestion for placing standards on celebrations is not coming from the hallowed cities in Brooklyn but from upper Manhattan:

Approach Number Three: We might begin to rethink some of our priorities. Maybe it is time to take a hard look at our materialistic society and the extent to which we as Jews have been affected by it. Some say that this entire crisis which the world is going through has been visited upon us by God because of greed and materialism. I have no way of guessing about God’s manner of judging the world, but it wouldn’t hurt for us to draw some lessons from what has obviously created the bubble in which all of us have been living.
Something very interesting happened in our synagogue two days ago, on Thursday morning the 18th. A family in our community had a relatively simple Bar Mitzvah for their seventh-grade boy who did not want to have the big bash that his two older brothers had enjoyed for their Bar Mitzvah celebrations. He wanted something simple because that’s his nature. He is modest and humble even though he has reasons to be otherwise. Moreover, he didn’t want anyone to give him gifts. Instead, he asked the invited guests to make a contribution to SSEJ, the Struggle to Save Ethiopian Jews. It was a remarkable demonstration by a Bar Mitzvah boy of priorities, of goodness, of compassion, and of the finest values that the Jewish people can teach. The entire seventh grade was invited and, of course, missed two periods of school, about which they didn’t complain. But they didn’t really miss school; they got a lesson in Judaism and in menschlichkeit that was worth ten periods in the classroom! Mark Twain once said: "Never let school interfere with your education." Here was a perfect application of that rule.
I don’t want to suggest that we all begin having Bar and Bat Mitzvahs on Thursday mornings, but perhaps it is time to begin to consider developing communal standards for smachot. Maybe now is the precisely the time to set forth some guidelines for modesty and restraint. So many families will have difficulty in the coming months and years in making big smachot. How much easier it would be for them if a community like ours decided on what is acceptable and what is not, what is desirable and what is not. I can’t do this alone; it needs a communal consensus, but maybe now is the time to talk about developing such a consensus.