Monday, November 30, 2009

Twitter question

I am still fairly new to Twitter. I started out following only a couple of people I knew from before through a blog or other connection. But I have since added on some when informed they were following me. A number of them are not in the J-Blog loop. So I'm wondering, where are they picking me up from? Do some people just pick up at random? Or would they find something in a search that interests them and then follow ever after?

Simple to say but not always to do

Like "buy low and sell high," the key to financial success is really built on simple points. The problem is letting these points guide one's decisions. We tend to make impulse purchases we can ill afford when armed with credit cards that let us forget the fundamental axiom in this post at http://www.budgetsaresexy.com/2009/11/if-you-cant-pay-for-it-dont-buy-it.html
I did a piece years ago warning about being armed and dangerous with credit cards, you can find it archived at http://kallahmagazine.com/MoneyMatters.htm under the title "Take Charge!"

A good Cyber Monday to you

Lots of online retailers are looking for your business today. There are some great deals, but there are also pitfalls to ordering online. So go over the figures and options before putting in your credit card info. See http://www.examiner.com/examiner/x-18522-NY-Jewish-Bridal-Examiner~y2009m11d30-Gift-shopping-online

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Thanksgiving in the Parasha

No turkey here. Chazal say that Leah was the first person ever to offer thanks to Hashem. We see that in Parshas Vatyetzeh, she named her fourth son Yehudah to say "Hapa'am ode es Hashem" [This time I will than G-d]. As Leah and Rachel knew that Yaakov would be the father of 12 tribes through 4 wives, Leah saw with the fourth child born that she was allotted the greater share of sons.

Friday, November 27, 2009

How to disagree agreebly

This article draws on Tannen's approach to language: See http://www.doublex.com/section/health-science/healthiest-way-fight-your-husband
Excerpt: "couples who used analytical language, such as “think,” “understand,” “because,” or “reason,” during heated arguments were able to keep important stress-related chemicals in check," It concludes: "The study nicely pokes holes in the stereotype that women are prone to emotional irrationality; the language software counted that women, on average, used more of these cerebral words than men. It’s also a reminder of the influence of a woman’s words on a man. "Even when it seems like he is ignoring you, your words may be having an effect—at least on a chemical level,” says Graham."

Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Maharal on Midrash

I started learning the Maharal's Be'er Hagolah, which addresses people's misimpression of the function and depth of midrash. I just came across a key passage in the third Be'er on p. 44 in my edition. This is a direct quote translated by myself:
a man who is a stranger to matters of wisdom will be astounded on the distance that appears [between the Midrash of Chazal] and he cannot apprehend their words. And this is nothing new, for also in the Torah and all the Scripture it is thus, for the man who is a stranger to the matters of wisdom sees in Torah some things that seem distant [unlikely]. However, the the intelligent man will say that it is not that the words are empty, and if they appear thus to him, it is due to him [the shortcoming of his own understanding]. That is the way for all the drashos in the Talmud and in all the other midrashim. Not a single one of them, whether big or small, does not [reveal] the depths of the Scriptures according to its truth. As one deeply investigates the interpretation of the Text, he will find it thus. That is why it is called drasha, for it is drishas [an investigation of] the Text with extreme [deep] chakira [digging out the truth] and drisha of up to the depth of [meaning of] the Text. Even if at time, he will find that one intereprets a point one way and one another, this matter is not a difficulty, for, certainly, the shape of the pshat is one, but the deep matters that emerege from it are very many. It thus for every thing that is found in the world. It is one thing unto itself when revealed to everyone's eye. Yet, when each thing is examined [analyzed] in terms of the truth of its idea and being, many thoughts and ideas can be found in them. And they are all clearly truth. Consequently, when we study the truth of the Text we will find many things that appear contradictory and various ideas according to the issue, and it is all truth. Only to the one who doesn't grasp their words [the teachings of Chazal] does it appear to be a strange [illogical] view.

A few pages later, the Maharal offers an analogy to illustrate how Midrash is always rooted in the truth of the text even if it seems distant from it. The pshat would be analogous to the trunk of the tree, which is singular. But the tree extends into braches, leaves, and even fruit. Though they may extend very far beyond the trunk, they are still integral to the tree and stem from the same root.

This point underlies the post: http://kallahmagazine.blogspot.com/2009/10/why-bother-acting-jewish.html

Ah, New York's finest

In Far Rockaway we have profiling-- the police look for Jews to ticket. If you are familiar with the neighborhood surrounding Mott Avenue, you would realize how ludicrous it is to crack down on the one Jewish kid riding a bike on the sidewalk. The following post appeared today on the local shul list:
Does anyone (unfortunately) have experience fighting a ticket for riding a bicycle on NYC sidewalk.Mott Ave. Far Rockaway. My son received a summons to Queens Criminal Court for riding his bicycle on the sidewalk. He is 17. The officer inaccurately described the incident, making it a more serious event than what actually occurred. My son rode on the street up until arriving directly in front of the store, he made the fateful decision to remain on his bike and ride up onto and across the sidewalk, where he dismounted and walked the bicycle into the store. No pedestrians were involved at all.
The officer wrote that he "observed the defendant operating a bicycle on a public sidewalk and then into a bodega causing people to walk into the street". This is NOT what happened. A lawyer we consulted stated that such language makes it appear to BE a criminal act, endangering lives.
Any advice would be appreciated
.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy lasagna day!

It seems that lasagna is the official turkey substitute. All the stores had lasagna noodles on sale this past week. I picked up 4 boxes at Stop & Shop for 79 cents each; that's less than half the regular price! So I wonder, those people who avoid eating turkey on Thanksgiving because they do not wish to actively celebrate the holiday, would they have to avoid lasagna as well?

How much time does it take to pull it all together?

Today I spoke with someone whose child is getting married in a few weeks. She asked if I had a checklist for the wedding. I had run an article a while back on the wedding timeline. So I dug it out of the computer files and emailed it to her. I then decided to post it on the site on the kallahmagazine.com/WeddingAdvice.html page. I included the introductory part on an Examiner post which links to it. That is at http://www.examiner.com/x-18522-NY-Jewish-Bridal-Examiner~y2009m11d25-How-long-does-an-engagement-have-to-be#

Dinner and dancing are both a mitzvah at a wedding

Keep that in mind when the portrait session seems to go on and on and on after the chuppah, to the point that some of your guests may leave without both. See http://www.examiner.com/x-18522-NY-Jewish-Bridal-Examiner~y2009m11d25-Aspects-of-the-Jewish-wedding-dinner-and-dancing#

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Does sheer cover it?

In a BY type school, tznius is not taught as something you need just if someone wants to say kriyas shema in your presence. It is taught as THE standard of dress in the city, in the country, in the winter, in the summer, essentially, anywhere. Even in chedrey chedarim, one is not supposed to say that tznius does not apply, though just about all authorities permit women to don bathing suits to swim in a pool with only women around. I agree completely.
What of school rules? The flaw in the logic of the skirts past the knee with knee socks standard is that the school allows sheer stockings for both students and teachers. If one really holds that the lower part of the leg must be covered like sleeves cover the arms, then it doesn't make sense to allow a sheer covering. In truth, sheer stockings reveal far more and achieve a more alluring effect than the shortest of socks. Thus it seems that the rule of socks when sheer stockings are permitted is more an issue of conformity to a dress code than actual tznius. See the http://divreichaim.

Also see http://kallahmagazine.blogspot.com/2010/08/tznius-legacy-not-fit-for-translation.html

I am not making this up

It seems there is a market for hula hoop instructors -- for adults. I wonder how many lessons they expect to need before managing the hoop on their own.

Someone posted as follows:
Looking for someone who can teach an adult to hula Please contact me as soon as possible with your contact info, rates and availability.

Thank you,

Very impressive

not just the financial clarification but the graciousness at the beginning. http://www.bigfatmoneybags.com/blog/?p=746

Monday, November 23, 2009

Time for a change of tactic

Orthonomics begins her post on "unpopular advice"with a letter to the Yated and offers some answers.
I think the fact that the letter writer is able to say,
"We’re justasking, what should we do? What is the answer? How are we supposed to manage?There is probably no answer to this question, but one thing I can say is that when my children get married, I’ll probably do things a lot differently. Maybe the way we’ve done things until now didn’t make as much sense as we thought they did…"

is a very positive thing. She'elas chacham chatzi teshuva -- a wise person's question is half an answer (because he frames the issue correctly). While asking this question, the person is taking note that raising children with the expectation that their needs will forever be cared for by others is not the way to go. That and the recognition that they can no longer regard their parents as a never-ending sourcde of funds show maturity. So there is at least something positive coming out of this economic downturn -- that and the more modest bas mitzvah celebrations I've noticed in the 7th grade of this year in contrast to the 7th grade last year in the same school.

Now I had thought of that -- professional shidduch resumes

But I don't think the commentator was really proposing that idea. I think it far more likely that s/he picked up on the word resume as a place to promote services and didn't understand what a shidduch resume is.
My comment moderation caught an interesting attempt to advertise. The comment was for a post I did several weeks ago on my poll on shidduch resumes. This is what it says: An insightful post on "Shidduch resume poll".An important point is a resume and cover letters are the marketing tools that helps the candidate to land in a perfect position. So it’s better to hire a professional service. One such specialized service is http://www.all-trades-resume-writing.com/
Thanks,
K--- - [followed by a link to how to write a professional cover letter and executive resume]

But, hey, why not? We can start a professional resume writing service for shidduchim. Like business resumes, they can tailor each one for the particular position sought. When pitching to a yeshiva bochur who wishes to learn in kollel for several years, it would be written one way. When pitching to an ambitious young man who aspires to macher status and the type of wife machers prefer, it would be written a different way. Then there are the pitches for Zionist types that would stress a love for Israel and a plan to live there. If pitching to a rabbi who may be moving around, the resume could include stresses on flexibility and a love of travel. Quite a scope there.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Diamonds are for . . . ?

convention and expectation, but not actual betrothal in Jewish law. See
NY-Jewish-Bridal-Examiner~y2009m11d22-With this ring: I don't thee wed: diamond-engagement-rings-and-Jewish-law

Diamonds are forever for over 60 years now

A diamond ranks a 10 on the Mohs scale for hardness. Taking its hardness as a sign of durability, a diamond is viewed as a proper symbol of an enduring commitment symbolized by an engagement ring.">But is the diamond engagement ring deeply rooted in tradition?

See http://www.examiner.com/examiner/x-18522-NY-Jewish-Bridal-Examiner~y2009m11d22-Diamond-engagement-ring-history

A thought about houses and fields

Mishlei 14:1 contains the phrase "chachmas nashim bantha beytha" [The widsom of women built her house]. That would apply to Rivka who used her wisdom to build up her house -- which would be perpetuated through Yaakov. Yaakov is the one associated with the bayis, advancing the Avos from the initial stage of Avraham -- the har [mountain] --through Yitzchak --the sadeh [field]. Now it occurs to me that both Yitzchak and Esav are associated with the sadehi, which could, in part, account for Yitzchak's natural affinity to that son. Esav was called an ish sadeh. Seeing that, Yitzchak may have thought he was continuing the spiritual path he had blazed in the sadeh. Yaakov, on the other hand, was associated with the bayis; he was not a man of the field. His spiritual approach differed from his father's, and it is possible that Yitzchak did not recognize that it was actually the differene in approach that was needed for spiritual advancement. But Rivka did recognize that fact, and she took action to ensure that the spiritual bayis would be built.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

New page to make it easy to find the aspect of the Jewish wedding that you seek

New page indexes the articles on aspects of the Jewish wedding at http://kallahmagazine.com/JewishWedding.html This page also contains the index to articles on kallah classes and recommended online sources and texts.
I already had an index up for wedding planning tips at http://www.kallahmagazine.com/WeddingAdvice.html

What is being way above average worth?

Not enough. I like to check my stats regularly. At this point, for today, my page views are about double the NY average, and & times (a nice number, considering I just wrote about sheva brachos) the "religion and spirituality average. And that yields jut 20 cents. You read that right -- the amount of just 2 dimes, 4 nickels, or 20 pennies. Yes, by day's end, the number will probably be higher, but it rarely goes above 70 cents for a day. Maybe I will break a buck if you guys subscribe to my Examiner page at http://www.examiner.com/x-18522-NY-Jewish-Bridal-Examiner.
The latest posts are on aspects of the Jewish wedding. But I also have a lot of practical stuff up, like NY marriage license requirement, engagement ring pointers, wedding gown and veil tips, florist terms, and how to save on wedding photography and video.

Add on $1.20

If you buy water bottles in New York, you will find another $1.20 tacked on to the price of your 24 pack. While the deposit has been in effect for soda bottles and cans for years, as of November 8th, the Empire State started assessing a 5 cent deposit on each water bottle. According to the law, though, any place that collects this tax also must refund it when the bottle is returned. So if you do save the bottles -- as should be required for recycling laws -- you can return them to the store. However, based on my experience with soda bottles, you will sometimes have to return them to the particular store you bought them from because stores will usually not accept bottles they do not sell.

Some practical reasons to not try to beat the system

See http://www.budgetsaresexy.com/2009/11/want-to-keep-more-money-obey-law.html

Seeking princes with the following:

This just came in on the neighborhood listShadchan seeking boys between the ages of 22-26 who are Yirei Shamayim, in their thoughts and in their deeds, who are ambitious, and who have a job or are taking the necessary steps to earn a decent parnossah , that will be adequate to support a family B'Ezras Hashem


Ah so many terms here open to interpretation. Like, what is a "Yirei Shamayim" in terms of "deeds?" Is it enough that he doesn't work on Shabbos? Must he also abstain from sports on Shabbos? What of the way he dresses on Shabbos? As for "in there thoughts," would someone test them in their emunah? Or do they mean what they like to read, watch, listen to during their leisure time.

Ambitious in terms of what? From the context, it would seem in terms of earning money. But there are many possible ambitions -- to discover a cure for diseases, to establish a yeshiva, to run for political office, to hold up Torah values to the best of one's ability.

And what is "decent parnossah?" That reminds me of the discussion between the sisters in Sense and Sensibility. The elder said that "wealth" is one of the attributes to seek, while the younger insisted just a "competency." But, in fact, what the younger had in mind by her "competence," estimated at eighteen hundred to two-thousand a year far exceeded the one thousand her sister had in mind for "wealth."

Take 2, add 10, to yield 7

When do you do that? Under the chuppah. You start with the couple, add a minyan, and then recite the sheva brachos. See http://www.examiner.com/x-18522-NY-Jewish-Bridal-Examiner~y2009m11d17-Aspects-of-the-Jewish-Wedding-the-Seven-Blessings

Monday, November 16, 2009

Kids are really useful when you need to find something

When I misplace something, i.e., keys (most common), phone (major drawback to something not attached to a cord) or, as today, my credit card, usually a child succeeds in finding it. I had not actually used it since last Thursday. And I did contact the last store at which I had used it to check it if I had left it behind. But I recalled that I was considering placing an online order Saturday night and had even gotten as far as taking my credit card out of my purse to fill in the info. I decided to hold off on the order. But the question is why wasn't my card back in my purse. I had searched around the computer and around the purse to no avail. I asked for my children's assistance. My middle daughter discovered another card that had fallen into the draw of the desk where my purse was. So I concluded that the card I sought must have fallen in, as well. And so it was.

So are kids smarter? I don't think that is it. I think they have a somewhat different perspective, which is what allows them to approach things and see them differently. So if the standard tactics aren't working, bring in a kid.

Finances: True or False Quiz

I just took the money bunk quiz at http://www.kiplinger.com/quiz/truth_bunk/index.html?qid=13. The only one I got wrong was the mortgage question. Go ahead and give it a go yourself.

So do you like suprise gifts?

I have to thank Mother in Israel for her tweet, which brought this blog to my attention. The question on this is post from someone asking what to do now that her grandfather just bought her a car drew quite a range of responses. The real answer, of course, is "it depends." I pointed out "it depends" on what strings would be attached to the gift. Others stressed that the grandfather, obviously, wanted to give it, so the only gracious thing to do is to accept it. Actually, this dilemma could be a good one to bring up on a date or even when engaged to ascertain a person's outlook on money, independence, and relationships. Check it out at http:///without-asking-my-grandfather-just.html

I may be quick, but I don't believe I'm that quick

I think something must be off on Pearson's record for yesterday. It reports that I read 4657 essays, which include 216validity papers in 8.5 hours. I have never hit a thousand essays in a single day, even if ended up scoring for upwards of 20 hours. I think my best time would be near 70 essays to an hour. Also there are usually no more than 25 validity papers in a day. So the only conclusion I can draw is there must be a goof that shows the total reads to date for the scoring session as the reads of the date.

Heartstrings


I made the image to the left to illustrate my post on reasons for a kallah giving her chasson a tallith. You can read it here: http://www.examiner.com/x-18522-NY-Jewish-Bridal-Examiner~y2009m11d15-The-tallith-a-gift-to-the-groom-from-the-heart

Saturday, November 14, 2009

A higher degree leads to . . .

A higher degree does not necessarily translate into higher pay. I know this from personal experience. But others have observed this to be the case even across two levels of degree.

One of the comments that appeared on a Higher Ed Jobs post on Linked in was from Gwendolyn Henderson, Department Head (School District of Hillsborough County).

In researching positions I came across an academic advisor posting paying $30K (masters required....1-2 yrs. exp. in higher edu). That is $14.42 per hour...which is what my former "high school" students earn talking on the phone as customer service reps. for various companies with a "high school" diploma. One would conclude, working in acdemia requires six years more education to earn the income of a high school graduate capable of answering a phone call for someone making a inquiry about their cell phone bill. Sad...I know.

Yitzchak greets his bride

In Parshas Chayei Sarah, we see the the details of a wedding for the first time in Tanach. Obviously, there were couples married before Yitzchak and Rivka, but theirs is the first one to show the Erusin / Kiddushin and Nesuin. Eliezer serves as Yitzchak's agent in betrothing Rivka. While we give a ring, he bestows on her the nose ring, and two bracelets. (24:22) . When her parents and brother suggest a delay of the traditional year-long engagement, or at least 10 months, Eliezer insists he must proceed immediately. Rivka affirms her commitment in the single word, "elech" [I will go] (24:55-56,58).

When their caravan of camels approach the field where Yitzchak is, Rivka sees him and asks Eliezers "who is that man, there , who walks in the field toward us?" Eliezer replies that he is his master. Rivka then covers herself with her scarf" (24: 64-65) The last verse is the source for bridal veils. Rivka covered her face as she was approaching nesuin with Yitzchak.
This was her trip down the aisle, so to speak. Her groom then came out to greet her and escort her into the chuppah, which was an actual home.

The commentator, Hakethav Vehakabala explains that Yitzchak was, in fact, going out to greet his bride. He was sensitive to the fact that she was coming away from her family to become his wife and wanted to show her a warm welcome and honor.. That is why he left his usual dwelling place in the south to the area of Be'er Lechay Roee, and then walked out into the field toward the path that travellers would traverse on the way from Charan. That way he was sure to see his bride and be able to escort the rest of the way. Like the grooms who come out from the chuppah to escort their brides in, Yitzchak borought Rivka to the tent of Sarah his mother to make her his wife (24:67).

Thursday, November 12, 2009

I've heard of renting flowers for weddings, but this . . .

I saw an online ad that offers rentals of silk flower arrangements for Shabbos. It reads as follows: "Pre-made Silk Flower Shabbos Bouquet for Rent or Sale. Why buy Flowers for $15-$50 that will die when you can rent them. . . . Rentals only $15 from Friday- Wednesday $1.50 for every additional day we have many to choose from so you can Pick up a new one every week."

I really don't this is as an economical choice. You can buy a pretty nice bouquet of fresh flowers for $15 or less, so if that is what you want to spend for flowers you will only keep from a Friday to Wednesday, then you may as well get fresh. In fact, I have bought flowers at Stop and Shop and Gourmet Glatt for just $3 to $4 a bunch. If I wanted something more extravagant, I could spend $6 to $7 on two for a fuller bouquet.

If I would be opting to save money by getting silk instead, it only makes sense to buy the flowers and keep them forever after rather than paying what they cost every single week. Silk flowers generally cost $1 to $2 a stem. What they're offering would only make sense as fund raiser for a tzedaka. Then you would be, essentially donating the $15 and getting the temporary flowers as a token of appreciation of sorts.

Labels, grr!

It's not enough to have labels based on affiliations, we have to have subcategory labels. And supposedly, all who fall into that subcategory label will act exactly the same. I just saw a topic title on a forum with a poll offering yes or no to the following: "Do most YU Machmir people only use checked Romaine Lettuce?"

Personally, I buy the standard Romaine lettuce and wash and check it myself. I usually only do this for Pesach. But for year round, I wash and the lettuce we use for salad. I also train my daughters to check the red and green leaf lettuce. I have found tiny bugs on occasion, so it is not an unnecessary precaution to check the leaves. I also explain to my daughters that certain vegetables are very difficult to check, which is one of the reasons I tend not to buy them.

But where I went to school or did not go to school really is irrelevant. What exactly are YU Machmir people supposed to be machmir on? Cholov Yisroel? Hilchos Shabbos? Taharas hamishpacha? Emunas chachamim? Or is it only matters of kashrus?



Hillel's approach for Chanukah and for couples

I was going to wait until closer to Chanukah to post this, but because a question came up in the guest http://kallahmagazine.blogspot.com/2009/11/guest-post-on-gifts.html, I decided to share it early.
post on

In Made in Heaven: A Jewish Wedding Guide, (Moznaim Publishing, 1983 p. 32), Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan brings up the issue of squandering money on lavish weddings that should be put to better use in providing the couple with necessities. He recalls an illustration offered by his friend, Rabbi Shmuel Mendelson. Hillel and Shamai had different views about the order in which Chanukah candles should be lit. As we know, we follow the opinion of Beis Hillel, which is to begin with one and add on a candle each successive night. However, Beis Shamai’s view was that the candles should parallel the cows offered during Sukkos, which began with the full number but went down one each day.

Rabbi Mendelson observed that Beis Shamai’s approach is followed by those who believe they must start out married life with everything. They are the ones who would register for the expensive china and silver sets, buy full suites of Italian furniture, and set it all up in a home they cannot afford to keep up. “When they begin, they have everything.” But when reality sets in and their income cannot keep up with their expenses, “they find their lives diminishing.”

Then there are couples who see the wisdom of Beis Hillel’s approach in their own life. “They can start off with one candle – with very little.” These are the ones who make do with a modest apartment furnished with second-hand pieces and dishes that are priced by the set rather than the place setting. So they do not begin in a blaze of glory. “But for the rest of their life they are adding.”

Guest post on gifts

"Jed" asked me to post the following:"">Being aware that many choshuv rabbonim have established guidelines for keeping down wedding costs, I was slightly disturbed to come across this article detailing which gifts "must" be given between the chosson and kallah (or their families). What are the common traditions, and what is just "minhag hallmark" as far as gifts between the couple prior to the wedding? See http://kallahmagazine.blogspot.com/2009/11/hillels-approach-for-chanukah-and-for.html

Deep sea diving

The Torah is referred to as water and even as the sea. When learning Torah, one plunges in to attempt to explore the depths. Like deep sea diver, they may succeed in pulling up some of the treasures that lay hidden or discover some as yet unclassified plant or animal. It would be ludicrous for anyone to claim that they know all there is to know about the sea on the basis of their own explorations. There is far more out there than any individual could cover in a lifetime.

Computers in the classroom

Would you think that is a good thing? Yesterday my daughter checked out a school that boasts about giving every single student her own laptop. My daughter noted that the laptops are, indeed, put to use during class. While some may actually take down notes on them, which is supposedly what they are intended for in noncomputer classes, others use it to surf the web, go on Facebook, check email, or send texts (though, admittedly they could do that anyway with just a phone). What was heralded as a tool for learning easily slips into a distraction for learning. I know that even college students would fall into distractions when they would bring laptops into class. The less mature high school students could hardly be expected to resist temptation, particularly in a school that takes a rather light approach to discipline.

You know that even when going to the moon, the scientists were still using the slide rule to make their calculations. It seems to me that the generation of long ago were not at all educationally disadvantaged by their lack of smart boards, advanced calculators, and access to the internet.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

It may be a dream, but the city is awake

In Hebrew, the word ir usually means city. But in the book of Daniel 4:10 it appears as the word for something else. Nevuchadnetzar recalls his second dream in the book. Among the visions is what is caleld "ir vekadish min shemaya." The word "ir" here refers to an angel, as it also does in the plural for of irin kadishin. The Da'as Mikrah, drawing on a number of classical commentators, explains that the root here is made up of the letters ayin, vav, reysh -- meaning awake. I suppose angels don't sleep. But it struck me how the word for awake is conflated with the word for city -- indeed, the city never sleeps.

The chuppah and Sinai

I had an idea about flowers on the chuppah. See it at http://www.examiner.com/x-18522-NY-Jewish-Bridal-Examiner~y2009m11d11-Aspects-of-the-Jewish-wedding-standing-under-the-chuppah

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Still the same after all these years

I was reading through reviews of wedding photographers on a wedding site. Though the site is not oriented toward a Jewish audience, it does include some Jewish owned photography studios. One of them was the one that shot my wedding way over a decade ago. The reviewer was not happy with her experience. Among the unpleasant things she recounts is being ordered by the photographer into poses she was uncomfortable with. She had to say "no" 4 times before being heard. I remember having the exact same experience. I didn't like being told to hold the veil this way or that, etc. And for all their claim of knowing what the poses should be, the results were not at all impressive. The reviewer attributes the poor performance to the owner being present for too short a time. But if the photographers were truly professional, they would not need the owner there to perform properly. And while she offers the possibility that her experience was an aberration, I remember being quite displeased myself.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Why a ring for kiddushin?

There are quite a few reasons for the custom of using a ring. See http://www.examiner.com/x-18522-NY-Jewish-Bridal-Examiner~y2009m11d9-Aspects-of-the-Jewish-weddings-the-symbolism-of-the-ring#

Shadchanus and family

I know someone who was upset by the notification from a relative that she would consider setting up this person's daughter with someone so long as her terms were clear. They were as follows:

I charge $2000/side for people in chutz la'aretz (first-time marriages, 29 years or under, no special needs or conditions)In other words, she would expect $2000 (from each side) if the shidduch came off even though this seems to be about a re-introduction, not someone they had not known of before.

I told the person that it is sad that she makes it clear she would not pick up the phone if she is not assured she would be paid for the shidduch. But from her perspective, she is charging for her service. The fact that the service is for a relative -- as far as she sees it-- is no reason to give up her fee. I'm not saying I agree with her point of view, but I believe that she thinks she is entitled to make money on this deal as she would on any other.

From my perspective, it is cold and calculating, to not lift a finger to promote a shidduch without assurance of renumeration. There is a notion of chessed and altruism. If we only did things for money, there would be no volunteering -- no one packing the boxes for Tomchei Shabbos or delivering them. There would be no kallah teachers who forego the fee leshem mitzvah. I try to instill such values in my own children who get dragged over to pack the boxes and are told not to demand money when babysitting for cousins. They also see that I have committed to cover dispatch for Chaverim every week. So I do understand the business perspective, but one's view should not be that limited -- particularly when dealing with family that may have done and in future do favors for you.

Friday, November 06, 2009

40 days before

Chazal (Sotah 2a) say that 40 days before yetziras havlad [the formation of the embryo] a bas kol [heavenly voice] calls out, "Bas ploni leploni" [The daughter of this man is destined for this one]. So when does this happen exactly? Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan touches on this on p. 5 of in Made in Heaven (Mozanaim: 1983). The 40 days before would be at the time of conception. I was just wondering about implicatons. I have heard that one can try to pray for the baby's gender only earlier than the 40th day of gestation precisely because it is not yet delineated. However, the sex would have been determined at conception if the bas zug was declared then.

Chazal do say that Leah prayed that she would carry a girl so that her sister would get to have at least two sons. Consequently, the embryo that would have been a boy was switched to a girl -- Dina. And we know that Dina went through major travails as a girl. It seems getting what you wish for is fraught with peril. I do wonder of the consequences for the heavenly declarations.

BTW the declaration sounds like it is made for the baby boy -- for he is specified while his bas zug is assigned on the basis of parentage. If it were declared for the girls, as well, I would think it should say Plonis leploni or Plonis leben ploni to match. What's interesting is if the girl is identified soley by her parentage, it would not be clear which daughter in a family of many girls is the One designated. That would actually eliminate my question of Yaakov's bas zug -- Rachel or Leah? Both would have been covered under the description "bas Lavan."

What she said, in truth

See the Divrei Chaim's take on meshane mifnei hashalom in this week's Parsha at: http://divreichaim.blogspot.com/2009/11/truth-whole-truth-and-nothing-but-truth.html and http://divreichaim.blogspot.com/2009/11/truth-whole-truth-and-nothing-but-truth_06.html
When I reviewed the parsha on Shabbos, an understanding of what Sarah said struck me. Then I saw that Hakthav Vehakbala reads it the same way. "Acharey balothi, haytha li edna veadoni zaken" [After I have been worn out , i.e. aged, I had rejuvenation, but my master is old.] According to the Midrash, Sarah pirsa niddah that day, so she say a clear manifestation of her rejuvenation with a return to fertility. But she saw no such sign on her husband. She saw the miracle in her own transormation but was amazed that the same would not be done for her husband.

Breaking plates revisited

See Havolim's post with illustrations at http://havolim.blogspot.com/2009/11/breaking-plate-at-tnaim-little.html and my original post, which includes R' Reisman's suggested answer printed in Pathways to the Prophets in the comments at http://kallahmagazine.blogspot.com/2009/10/mothers-active-role-in-jewish-weddings.html
Rabbi Reisman concedes that he could not find a source for the minhag of mothers, specifically, breaking the plate. He offers a possible explanation as follows: the tanaim undertake a financial obligation. As the fathers of the chasson and kallah each have a prior financial obligation to their wives' kesubos, the wives participation indicates their willingness to allow this new financial agreement.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Thoughts on the Jewish Wedding

The wedding ring does not have to be made of gold, but it should not be gold-plated. And the thrifty should appreciate that one of the reasons for combining the Erusin with Nesuin was to reduce expenses by having one celebratory feast instead of two. See
http://www.examiner.com/x-18522-NY-Jewish-Bridal-Examiner~y2009m10d29-Aspects-of-the-Jewish-wedding--the-betrothal-and-the-ring

It occurred to me that for those who find a double-ring ceremony to be the only one that appeals to their sense of equity, there already is one in place. Of course, the kinyan is accomplished by giving something to the kallah, which is traditionally a ring. Prior to that the kallah herself forms a ring (not a concrete one, obviously) for her husband by circling around him. Of course, this is a speculative interpretation, so I did not include it in the post. Those who consider the bride's circuits to be demeaning to women have not really looked into the meaning behind the custom. See http://www.examiner.com/x-18522-NY-Jewish-Bridal-Examiner~y2009m10d26-Aspects-of-the-Jewish-wedding-on-to-the-chuppah


Thoughts on titles

Though moderation is currently on, you can still comment. I have completed a very good part of the book based on the topics that have been covered in the Kallah Magazine issues. I have tentatively titled it The Kallah Magazine Wedding Handbook, but I am now considering Cutting the Fat from Your Big Jewish Wedding . The latter would sound trendier but would also hint at both trimming down to essentials and cost-cutting.


Kallah Magazine on Facebook

I set up a page under the Kallah Magazine name at http://www.facebook.com/home.php#/pages/Cedarhust/Kallah-Magazine/166926033774?ref=mf Fans are welcome!

My facebook page under my own name, which includes the Kallah Magazine updates, is still up.

"Jewish men make the best husbands" true or false?

There is, indeed a perception that Jewish men are good husband material. It certainly seems to be assumed by nonJewish women who actually seek out romantic attachment to Jewish men. What do they have to say for themselves?

In her autobiography, Crossing Ocean Parkway, Marianna De Marco Torgovnick, an Italian-American who became an English professor identifies her selecting a Jewish husband as one of the keys out of the locked environment she found in her own ethnic group. That is not to say that she married for money or even status, but for someone from a culture that would foster her academic aspirations. I am not sure if a WASP would have been perceived as beyond reach, while the Jewish man -- still rooted in an ethnic group -- was considered more attainable. But she clearly found a Jewish husband to be more compatible with where she wanted to go than a fellow Italian-American.

But, on the flip side, my husband recently declared that his coworkers put him to shame (just don't take that too literally). He said that, not only do they do house projects but they cook full dinners, as well. To my husband's credit, he does do the dishes and really coordinates the Pesach kitchen turnover. He also doesn't have to call in someone just to change a light bulb, put up the sukkah, or put in an air conditioner. But he questioned the husband rankings when he heard about the great accomplishments of his nonJewish colleagues.

Thoughts on the title of this post?

Related: http://kallahmagazine.blogspot.com/2013/01/a-woman-learns-about-dating-by-posing.html

Monday, November 02, 2009

Not quite one in a million

I am one in 855. I mean of the SAT essay scorers. In the latest newletter, Pearson informs us that 950 readers were hired to score for the October SAT exam taken by about 575,000 students. 90% of the 950 readers passed training and qualification, which would mean 855 if my math skills do not fail me on percentages. So for those who slyly ask if I could assign a better score if I recognize the writer of the essay, you can calculate for yourself what are the odds of my getting that one our 575,000 essays when there are 854 other possibities? Aside from the point that I would not score a student essay by someone I recognize any differently than one I am unfamiliar with, the odds are very much against my getting the essay one has in mind.

BTW the next SAT test date is November 7th. It seems to always be given on a Saturday, so taht Sabbath observers have to take it the next day.

Some shameless self-promotion

For October www.kallahmagazine.com had 37,300 hits -- and that without paying for any advertising beyond my own links on this blog, my husband's blog, and http://www.examiner.com/x-18522-NY-Jewish-Bridal-Examiner. So it may be a very small publication, but it has fairly large numbers behind it.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

The handmaiden who spoke with angels

Parshas LechLecha includes the episode of Hagar speaking with angels with absolute nonchalance at the appearance of divine beings. This happens after she runs away from the household of her mistress, Sarai, when angels would have appeared regularly, as alluded to in Hagar naming the place where she saw them Be'er Lechai Roi because she saw [angels] there after seeing [them] before. Hagar ran away in response to being oppressed by her mistress. While Ramban faults Sarai for oppressing Hagar and attributes the troubles that the children of of the avos had with Yishmael to this, Hakethav Vehakabal, among others, exonerate her actions and find that the fate of Yisrael with respect to Yishmael had been determined prior to this. The fact that the angel instructs Hagar, not only to return to her mistress but to submit to her, shuvi el geviratech vehthani tachas yadeya (16:9) appears to ratify Sarai's position in this case.
Sarai was correcting a fundamental error that Hagar made. Once she became pregnant, as Rashi explains, she grew conceited and looked down on her mistress, claiming that Sarai is not the Mrs. Perfect everyone considers her. If she were so good, she would not have remained childless while Hagar conceived instantly is what the handmaid thought to herself. As the text says, vatekel gevirata be'eyneyha [her mistress become of less consequence in her eyes] (16:4). Here Hagar saw incorrectly and reached the wrong conclusion by assuming that what she saw defined all that is. The angelic directive to return pointed out that she erred and she must accept Sarai superiority of position and spiritual level.

For over 17 years, things seem to stabilize in Avraham's household. But when Sarah sees the danger that Yishmael poses to her son, she insists on sending him and his mother away. Hashem Himself tells Avraham to listen to all that Sarah tells him (21:12), and so he sends mother and son off the very next morning even though Yishmael is sick. What's very interesting is how this episode of Hagar's leaving contrasts with the previous episode. The first time, she ran away. Now she is sent away. Also the first time she was alone, and here she has Yishmael with her. The first time she is ordered to return by the angel, but this time, she is shown how she and her son will survive away from Avraham's household.
But what struck me is also the difference in the manner in which the angel addresses her. In the first instance, she sees the angel who speaks with (no fewer than 5 according to the view that each statement by a different angel). Here she only hears the angel call her from the Heavens (21:17). Also when she was ordered to return, she was also reassured that she would have a son to be called Yishmael ki shama Hashem el anyech [because Hashem heard her distress] (16:11). There she merited to be heard. This contrasts with what the angel tells her the second time around, ki shama Elokim el kol hana'ar [for G-d listened to the voice of the lad] (21:17). Though Hagar had cried herself, she is not credited with anything meriting G-d's response.

Even in her great decline, she merited to hear an angel, though now that she was sent away by Avraham, she no longer merited to see one. Chazal learn that at this point Hagar had actually reverted to idolatry, which is why she had to be expelled from Avraham's household. According to some, when she cried out, she was crying out to her idols. According to others, when she cried out, she was complaining that G-d's promise that her descendants would multiply appears false, for she expected her son to die. She separated herself from her sick son, saying al ereh bemos hayeled [I won't see the death of the boy] (21:16). She had willful blindness. Consequently, she needed to have her eyes opened for her. Vayifakach Elokim eth eyneyha vatera be'er mayim [G-d opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water. The well had always been there; only Hagar had failed to see it. That is the revelation for Hagar in this episode -- to realize the limits of her vision. What she was able to see was not all there was; even human who have seen angels can fall into errors of vision.