Thursday, December 31, 2009

Anticipating 2010

Before the school year begins, my girls' school requires a head check -- I don't mean the paper that represents money but actual heads of hair . So I dutifully packed up my girls into the mini an on September 6th and drove them over to the school during checking hours listed for that Sunday morning. I took my usual route and turned left from Empire onto Reads Lane. Just after I made the turn, a police car came after me. I pulled over and asked what the problem was. The policeman claimed I didn’t stop at the stop sign on Empire. I know I did stop.What I really think is that he came after me hoping I hadn’t signaled or to find some other infraction like no seat belt.

After taking a very long time in his car going through the paper work and ascertaining that record was completely clean, he handed me a ticket. He told me I could try to dispute it in court, but he would still maintain that I had not stopped. The day after I got the ticket I return to the scene of the disputed crime to take pictures that show the view from within the parking lot is not unobstructed. I also printed out a copy of an email of one of the replies I received to my query about experiences of this sort. This one said that the policeman was parked in the Far Rockaway mikvah lot that morning and reading a newspaper -- not quite a model of alert observation.

The traffic court allows scheduling a hearing through the website. The problem was they kept offering me Friday afternoon times. I selected a different day, but that was also switched to a Friday even after I had received a hard copy confirmation. Once again, I logged in and settled the court date for Monday, December 21st at 1 PM. If you recall, we had a lot of snow that Sunday. So I left with plenty of time to spare and found nearby (FREE) parking. I waited outside my assigned room, then inside my assigned room, and then was told to proceed to a different room at about 1:30. Along the way I heard many other ticket stories.

Finally, it was my turn. I took all my papers up with me. But I didn't have to say a word to win. The judge asked the officer if the ticket was unaltered. It was. The judge asked how the officer could foretell a traffic infraction for September 6th 2010. That's right. The officer had written the wrong year. (Hence the title of this post.) While I had heard that error among the other cases, they usually wrote the prior year, i.e. 2008 instead of 2009. Somehow this policeman had written down the next year. And I got the not guilt vertdict I deserved but may not have succeeded in proving. That brought home the realization of what it feels liek to have Hashem yilachem lachem.

How to not lose your cool over color coordination

See Ms. Maven's answer at

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

I wonder how this will jive with the shiur mentioned above

A Blob of Something Different: Top Ten Reasons To Say No To A Second Date
If anyone goes can they ask the rabbi (see what his view is of telling the shadchan (who may be any person that sets the singles up and does not have to be card-carrying guild member) why one does not wish to pursue the relationship further. Many offer the "just not for me" line. This was endorsed by one of the commentators on as a virtuous response, for it avoids lashon hara by refusing to report anything negative about the date. But I would fear it can backfire. After hearing this a couple of times, I would guess the shadchan would simply label the boy or girl who says it as "too picky" or not clear on what s/he wants. It also indicates a type of defensive attitude. The single may be thinking, "If I don't cite a specific reason, the shadchan can't attempt to talk me out of it." Now while there are manipulative people out there who do blatantly misrepresent prospective dates to get people to agree to go out, sometimes they either just made a mistake or the date somehow conveyed a misimpression. In conclusion, I don't really like the cop-out "not for me" excuse.

On shidduchim

Those who are not cooking or cleaning this Friday morning and are in the vicinity of the 5 Towns can attend this on January 1ST at 9:45 Shaaray Tefila

Rabbi Dovid Weinberger, shlita

Do you know what you are doing?
„« When and under what circumstances may one break an engagement?
„« May a Shadchan lie about the age of the young man or woman?
„« The obligation to pay the Shadchan ¡V who is considered a Shadchan?
„« Getting married to a prospective spouse against the parents¡¦ wishes.
„« Advice from Gedolei Yisroel regarding the attributes to look for in a prospective spouse.
„« Disclosing medical and psychological issues ¡V how and when?
„« Proper hishtadlus in seeking a Shidduch.
„« Halachos of one who is asked about a Shidduch.
„« Marrying a baal/baalas teshuva, non-frum or intermarried spouses in the family, etc.
„« Understanding the bas kol which dictates who is to marry whom 40 days prior to birth.
„« Other contemporary issues

Losing your cool over color coordination


Monday, December 28, 2009

False assumptions

A few weeks ago, I scheduled a physical with a local doctor. I had made appointments in the past with him but only for sick visits. His secretary first offered me a 5 o'clock time slot, which I had to decline because it would mean my youngest would be home without anyone else there until at least 5:15. So one week later, she had a 2:45 available. I took it. Today the office called to confirm the appointment. The woman on the phone casually said, "blood will be drawn, so you have to have fasted for at least 6 hours."
Say WHAT? No one had told me that when they scheduled the appointment. When an appointment that require fasting is scheduled, in my experience, the person is reminded of that fact and usually offered a morning appointment. In fact, whenever my children had needed the full blood test, the doctors have either offered to schedule the full appointment for the morning or to allow the child to come in just for the blood work in the morning.

The office people were not at all contrite. They take it as a given that physicals entail such blood tests and so assume that all patients would know this. Hello? I had never had a physical with this doctor in the past. And, I can assure you, that not all doctors take the full battery of blood tests at each checkup. I told the office woman that I wanted to speak to the doctor. But I didn't trust her to convey the message properly. Since I was going out anyway, I dropped into the doctor's office. I waited to see him and stressed the fact that they had not told me about fasting until today. They should not schedule such appointments for afternoons without warning people in advance. He did not wish to concede that his office person had erred. But he was willing to do what I had suggested myself, namely to split the checkup and the blood work. That way the appointment would remain at the same time, and I can come in on another morning for the fasting blood test. You would think this is some amazing idea given how unacceptable the office staff found it. If they had only done their job properly in the first place, the split would not have been necessary.
I just fasted yesterday for Asara BeTeves and do not want to have 2 fast days within 3 days, thank you very much.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Staying the course on the way to the wedding

Solid advice for an engaged couple at any time of year. The first 2 of 10 resolutions offered by Elizabeth Oakes are:

1. We will carefully examine what we want and need from our wedding day, and stick to our vision despite outside influences, either personal or commercial. If we have two entirely different ideas of our wedding we will find a compromise that fulfills both our needs, even if that means having two or more ceremonies (his tropical beach with just us, her princess dance in front of hundreds of friends.)

2. We will create a budget and stick to it, and we will not go into debt and mortgage our future for a single day's events. Our ability to be financially responsible and save for the home/car/insurance/education/children/retirement and all else we want and need in our lives will not be corrupted by childish whims. conspicuous consumption, or any indulgence beyond our current monetary means.

See the other 8 at

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Tallying the numbers in the parsha

there is a famous dispute in accounting for a discrepancy in the numbers given for Yaakov's family when they come to Egypt. The total number is 70. That is broken up according to the children for each of Yaakov's 4 wives. The first total given is 33 for Leah. However, only 32 children and grandchildren are named. That is where Rashi cites the Midrash that Yocheved (Levi's daughter and the future mother of Moshe) was born between the walls of Egypt. Thus she is among the total but not named as those who left Eretz Yisrael. Ibn Ezra does not care for that opinion. One of his objections is that it would make her 130 at the time she gave birth to Moshe. He suggests that is Yaakov himself who makes up the 33rd here. But I have another suggestion. After I posted this, my husband found the same approach offered by R' Zalman Sorotzken in Oznayim Latorah in and Rav Shteinman's Ayelet Hashacar, Hakthav veHakavala is quoted as saying that Asnas completes the coutn of 70.

First let's go over the rest of the numbers, though. 46:18 counts up the children of Zilpah as 16. 46:22 counts up the children of Rachel as 14. These include Binaymin, his 10 sons, and Yosef, and his 2 sons. 46:25 tallies the children of Bilha as 7. (Interesting note: Hakthav vehakabal cites a GRa that points out that Rachel and Leah each had twice as many people assigned to them as their corresponding shifchos.) Anyway, 33 plus 16, plus 14 plus 7 adds up to 70. However, 46:26 then counts up differently. The figure it gives is 66 as the total number of peopel who came down to Egypt. This is followed by the reminder that Yosef and his 2 sons wer already in Egypt.

To get to 66, we have to subtract 3 from the 14 names ascribed to Rachel's sons plus one other? So who is that one? According to Rashi, it would be Yocheved who did not count as one who left E"Y but did count in the total of 70. However, I would suggest another possibility that is also based on Midrash. Yosef's wife, Asnath, was said to be the daughter of Dina and Schem. She was sent off with a type of protective amulet placed upon her by Yaakov. She was adopted by Potiphar and his wife, which is why she is called their daughter. But, in fact, she is among the descendants of Leah, for her mother, Dina, is explicitly counted in the total.

Counting Asnath as both the unnamed 33rd for the children of Leah and one of the 4 needed to add up to 70 after the count of 66 fits very well. She would not be named explicitly because she was illegitamete and was not brought up among the family of Yaakov. However, she rejoined the family as the wife of Yosef. Though she was one of Leah's descendants, she did not travel with them, but perforce left E"Y many years earlier. Then the division of 66 for those coming would leave 4 all of the household of Yosef -- himself, his two sons, and his wife, who was also his half niece-- to add up to the total of 70.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Jokes and fairy tales

Follow up thought to previous post.

I never actually took a course on the study of fairy tales. But from what I understand, there are many psychological reflections built into them. Among them is the wicked step mother. I recall seeing that all the negatives one would associate with a parental figure are projected on the step-mother because it is too much for one to admit it in a biological parent. Hansel and Gretel would seem to be an exception, unless the mother there was supposed to be a stepmother, as well.

In modern pop culture, fairytales are often supplanted by stereotypical jokes. And there are a slew of MIL ones. But I think that the projection dynamics at work are actually the other way. Just as the "bad parent" has to be made into a stepmother, the "bad child" has to be made into a daughter-in-law. That way, one's biological child can still be idealized as perfect, brought down only by an influence that is alien to the biological family.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Why the animosity between MILs and DILs?

My theory: Some mothers are very emotionally vested in their sons.
Somehow this is not as much an issue for fathers and sons-in-law. I think that is because fathers, typically, do not invest as much emotional identification into their daughters as mothers do into their sons. I posted the rest (with both Biblical and literary quotes) at

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Do you really think B & H love the holidays?

So they say in their commercials with actors supplying the voices of Mr. B and Mr. H. (I was once told that they are, in fact, a husband and wife, though. .I know, they love the spike in sales that comes from the holiday shopping season. But there is some irony in claiming to love "the holidays" that everyone knows is not really about Chanukah but to another that, historically, was a very bad day for the Jews. Some Chasidim still have particular practices for 'nittel nacht,' when their mikvahs are closed. That forms an ironic juxtaposition, of course, to the Chassidim whose businesses rely on holiday sales, including baked goods and electronics. Any way, why are so many Jews here preoccupied with Dec. 25th? My observation that they are is based on the significant number of Facebook posts I've seen from Jews referring in some way to the upcoming holiday and its associations. We have plenty of our own holidays and don't need to "borrow" any.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Snow in the forceast? Get your sheitel in advance

Why you should not leave picking up your sheitel to the day of the wedding
Someone posted on the neighborhood email list today: <>Does ANYONE know how to get in touch with ------? My dear friend is getting MARRIED TODAY @ 4:00 & her sheitel-FOR THE CHASUNAH is IN THE[RE} !. . . NO ONE is answering the phone & the store is LOCKED!!
PLEASE help!!If you KNOW HOW to get in touch with them PLEASE have them . . . OPEN UP THE STORE & give the kallah her sheitel. THANK YOU.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

8 Chanukah lessons -- both serious and frivolous

Do the right thing -- even if it seems hopeless.
A femme fatale is an army's best asset
Flatter a man's vanity, and he's bound to lose his head.
You snooze, you lose.
Bemakom she'eyn anashim, hishtadel lihiyos ish [in a place where there are no men, try to be a man (Avos 2:6).] applies to women, as well.
You win some, you lose some, but you still have to play -- dreidel.
You don't have to be Jewish to love latkes.
Carpe Diem -- doughnuts taste best fresh.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

No euphemism here

I passed by a store that had a sign in the window stating, "Cheap Chanukah gifts," not the usual euphemism, "for every budget," or even the softer "affordable" or "reasonable." That's telling it like it is! Of course, some of us may differ on whether the cheap here would more correctly fit the prices or the quality of the merchandise.

If you're familiar with the Midrash on Yosef and Eshet Potifar

you may appreciate this post: But it assumes a certain level of knowledge and understanding. Those who are not familiar will not get the point.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Putting the shoe on the other foot

This is not a new article, but I just came across it now. It's Chanany Weisman's proposal for a "shadchan resume." He proposes:
"Shadchanim and singles would exchange résumés at the first meeting to help them decide if they are right for one another. This will also streamline the many glatt kosher-super mehadrin-gadol endorsed events where single men and women can go to separate rooms to meet shadchanim. "

Facebook and teens

I just posted this, ironically enough, on my personal Facebook page: Do/would you let your teen have a Facebook account? Would you monitor it? Here I will expand a bit. What teens sometimes choose to post on their Facebook pages tells quite a lot about them, and it might be more than you want. I can imagine that those who wish to keep up a RW image would find much of what their teens go for in public rather embarrassing and possibly detrimental. I do know of parents who do allow their teens internet access, accounts, etc. but then follow their trail through various accessories that would serve as virtual nanny cams on their kids. Experiences and views on this, anyone?

Sunday, December 13, 2009

What I heard

My daughter said someone in her cousin's class was planning to have a bas mitzvah party at a place that sounded to me like "JAP Castle." No, that's not really what it's called, but perhaps it should

Latke ditties

I remember 2 latkes songs.
Who can deny the king of the fry?
The latke precious
Who can withhold all glory and gold from such as he?

[The rest is not clear in my mind, though it goes on with a "Hear. . ]

The lyrics of the second:

Each Chanukah we celebrate great Judah Macabeus
Who had the courage to defy Antiochus and free us
Yet it is not fair that we should forget
Mrs. Macabeus, whom we owe a debt

She mixed it
She fixed it
She poured it into a bowl
You may not guess
But it was the latkes
That gave brave Judah a soul

[The last 2 lines are repeated. "She mixed it. . ." serves as the chorus. Another part of that song I remember is]

One latkes, two lates
and so on into the night

Anyone have the complete text?

Getting set to make latkes

The picture on the left was supposed to appear in the Examiner article. But the photo server there is not working. I tried three times. So I will include it here. You will also find it on the Homefront page of

For those of you intent on making latkes in honor of Chanukah, I posted expert tips for successful frying on These tips, as well as the recipe for classic potato latkes and their variations were written by Levana Kirschenbaum. She put them together in the article, POTATO LATKES: CONQUERING THE FEAR OF FRYING, which she wrote for Kallah Magazine a few years ago. You can find the full article, recipes, and also ideas for dairy dishes on the Homefront page of

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Not the usual spin on Yehudah and Tamar

The parsha Vayeshev, includes a number of developments for the shvatim. Among them is the story of the death of Yehudah's first two sons, subsequent to their marriages to Tamar, and her disguise to trick her own father-in-law into having children with her. Tamar is completely exonerated in the end for her stratagem. She wanted to ensure she would have children from Yehudah's line. When she saw that her father-in-law was merely putting her off, for Shela had reached the same age, apparently, as his brothers and was not given to her as a husband, she took matters into her own hands. She travelled to where Yehudah was, disguised herself as a prostitute, and got his pledge in return for services. Hakthav vehakabala finds it fitting that Yehudah was "taken in" by Tamar; it is a form of poetic justice for his attempt to take her in by evading her through delay and excuses. He was not completely honest with his daughter-in-law, for he had, in fact, decided to withhold his third son from her, but claimed he was only seeking a delay.

This is exactly the same kind of game played by some people I call to inquire about advertising. The one who say, "not now, but you could call me for the next one" never do come in for the "next one." They just think it is more polite to say this then to say, no. But they are still being less than honest and wasting my time when I do try to follow up for the next one. Politeness does not trump honesty when it raises false hopes, as we see from the pshat offered by Hakthav vehakabala.

Friday, December 11, 2009

A practical approach to wedding gifts

I was reminded of an article I once did on gifts in general by J Money's guest post at

The article I wrote is archived on Here's an extract
do think about what they are likely to want or need. So don’t give people wine decanters because A) most people don’t use them and B) they probably have already been the less than enthusiastic recipients of two or more. One sometimes overdone gift is a mayim achronim set. My husband and I got four – two of them silver, one ceramic, and one brass. We also received numerous silver mezuzos. That is an OK choice, because it has potential functionality. However, we only got around to unearthing from their boxes close to a decade after we were married.

Another overdone gift is the glass serving platters. You know the ones I mean. They are sold in a local discount store for $12-$20, yet all givers persist in hoping to pass them off as having been purchased for higher prices elsewhere. Face it: you’re not fooling anybody. And your intended recipient most likely already has at least three. Other gifts that could backfire include: tablecloths – they may be the wrong length and clash with the dishes; colored glassware – they may not correspond to the new couple’s taste or china pattern; havdalah sets and/or besamim boxes –we received too many of those; any number of objects you may have picked up at a department store on sale because when the recipient brings it back, she’ll find out that you only spend $19.97 on that set of crystal candlesticks and that she’ll have to contribute her own money to get what she wants in exchange. It is almost impossible to appear generous unless you are so in fact.

The obvious choice for those for whom generosity speaks of their thoughtfulness is the universally accepted cold, hard cash , or a check if you prefer. That allows you to let the recipient know exactly how much you are spending on the gift with no guess work involved – a very good choice for the truly generous. This type of gift allows the recipient to make her own selection for purchase at your expense, eliminating the need for you to psyche her/him out. You don’t even have to worry about which store your recipient is likely to shop in because legal tender is accepted everywhere. It is even accepted as payment for rent, utilities, and gas. It may, in fact, be put to one of those uses by a young couple who finds they have all the home accessories they need, but would like a home to keep it in. So long as you trust the recipients to exercise their own discretion in how to spend your gift and do not feel a need to be personally remembered by the object in their breakfront that requires regular polishing, this may be a fine way to show your generosity.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Hilchos Chanukah and Shalom Bayis

This year, Chanukah begins on a Shabbos night. Should someone not have enough money to purchase candles for both the menorah and the Shabbos lights, what should s/he do? Get a friend to post a request for donations on the the neighborhood shuls list for the $25 EZ lights set plus the special Shabbos glove lights plus a matching setf silver candlesticks and menorah. I'm KIDDING. No, that is NOT the halacha. One does not collect money. If one has only enough for one set of lights, one must opt for the Shabbos lights rather than the Chanukah ones. While one may ascribe this to the principle of tadir ve'eyno tadir, tadir kodem, that rule, I believe, is only applicable for order in time. Thus we make havdala before lighting the Chanukah lights motzei Shabbos. The reason for privlieging the Shabbos lights over the Chanukah ones is that they are associated with shalom bayis, and shalom bayis trumps pirsumei nisa.

As for the other aspect of shalom bayis to be learned from hilchos Chanukah, see
(I do hate to repeat myself.)

Wishing everyone a freilachen and lichtige Chanukah and lots of gimmels! I would settle for a hey myself.;-)

Holiday confusion

We're on the White Post Farms email list. Not wanting their Jewish customers to feel left out of the holiday festivities, they've invented a substitute Santa Claus figure. The one who plays him dresses up as what appears to be a white bear with a blue scarf and a blue version of the Santa hat. (It always strikes me how blue -- sometimes set off with silver --becomes the Chanukah color to contrast with the red and green -- set off with gold -- of the more dominant holiday.)
Clearly they are quite oblivious to the fact that Chanukah will long be over by the week that other holiday when they proudly announce: "Santa Claus and our very own Hanukkah Herbie are in town and your kids can meet them every Friday to Sunday through December 24, 2009"

Revising shidduch requriements

This just came in on the community email list: " Shadchan looking for young men ages 22-26 who are Yirei Shamayim, are ambitious, and who will B'H be able to support their future families B'H"
This appears to be a revision of the post I quoted in "
Shadchan 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"
pared down and an additional B'H inserted.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Those of us more comfortable in Target than Versace can relate

I don't even like to step into stores where a single outfit costs more than my entire wardrobe. Read the top ten signs a store is out of you price range at

Freudian Slip? Note the title typo

ShIDDUCH COACHES is hosting a Free Teleconference for all Jewish Sin
Posted by: "Chana"

FREE Teleconference Call! Over the phone from the convenience of your home or office!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009
8pm - 9:30pm

Introduction to Relationship Coaching and how we can help you to find your bashert!

-Introduction to Shidduch Coaches
-What is a Relationship Coach?
-Share Stories of our experiences!
-Why stay single?
-Your Vision of marriage
-Requirements, Needs & Wants
-Relationship History
-Why choose us?
-Questions & Answers

Sign up with us today by Email

The gatekeepers of shidduchim

Who or what acts as ultimate gatekeeper for a shidduch? The shadchanim who will only broker a deal they feel is right or profitable? The bochurim who believe that only a certain type will do for them? Or the mothers who try to weed out girls they believe do not carry enough status for their son? Or can it be the shidduch system itself with its complicated rules, background checks, and references that allow for character assassination to take place in the name of a good cause?

So what do you think? I know that some people will say that this is the system, and we have to stick with it, despite its flaws. But there is something to be said for less mediation (which is not synonymous with pritzus). If the young people are mature enough to marry, they should be mature enough to make the decision of whom to marry with an understanding of the reasons behind their choice.
There are a number of accounts of the shidduchim made on Tu B'Av and Yom Kippur in the vineyard. (See the links in The Talmud's account in Taanis 31a is as follows:
The daughter of Israel go out and dance in the vineyards. Anyone who lacked a wife went there. . . . Our rabbis learned: The beautiful ones among them would say: "Raise your eyes to beauty, for a wife is only for beauty." The girls who had yichus [well established, reputable families] would say, "Raise your eyes to family, for a wife is only for children." The ugly ones among them would say, "Take what you take for the sake of Heaven, and adorn us in gold jewelry."

Each type here offers a reason for marrying her. Not all would marry for beauty. Some would marry for yichus. But then there are the ones enjoined to marry truly leshem Shamayim. After all, getting married is a mitzvah. The girls who have the least to offer -- the ones termed outright ugly in the description -- declare that they too have a right to marry. They even go a step further by declaring that they can also be beautiful if only their husband buy them the right jewelery and clothes (as Rashi, I believe, says) would work wonders on their looks.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Austen style etiquette in shidduch dating

" Now, it is generally considered a faux pas to use your date’s name on a date. This is because, I guess, you’re not supposed to be on first name basis yet."I love it! It’s so very Jane Austen! But I just can’t picture a modern day young woman turning an icy stare on the man who dared call her Chanie, while telling him, “I have not given you leave to call me by my first name.” (Chanie cannot very well call it a Christian name, can she?) Of course the Bennett parents referred to each other formally as Mr. and Mrs. Bennett even after over 23 years of marriage. See

Sunday, December 06, 2009

The downside of popularity

I just received an email requested that one of the gmachs listed be removed because the woman whose phone number is associated with it is moving to Israel. The email, which was not sent by the woman herself, said that she wants it off "since shew [sic] will have the same # in israel and she is getting so many calls and cant even pack." Interesting, that the large number of calls is blamed on (it might be nicer to say attributed to) the listing on

Friday, December 04, 2009

Is this the Twitter generation?

I am on Twitter now, as you can clearly from the side bar. I felt obliged to join in where many bloggers have already gone before and as a means to promote posts on I joined Facebook for the same reason and to add on another marketing tool for Earlier than that I joined LinkedIn, which recently linked up with Twitter just as Facebook did. That brigns me back to the title of the post: Twitter appears to dominate. While there are advantages to quick exchanges, they all add up to quite a bit of time for those who twitter and check their twitter messages constantly. One thing I am not is a texting person who is always looking on a cell phone or some other device to exchange quick messages in the modern code of communication. I really do prefer real English presented in a complete thought with enough detail to flesh it out -- not wordy but developed. As quick one-liners become the norm of communication, inevitably, real writing will suffer. I'm sure the effects are already being bemoaned by college English instructors.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

High tech dating: net benefit?

Wolfish Musings: ShidduchVision... What's Right and What's Wrong
What is the real gain of this? I think it is to spare the boy a trip and the expense of taking out a girl he finds unattractive. As boys are expected to pick up their dates and pay for the entertainment of the day or evening, some are reluctant to undertake a date they would consider both a waste of time and money.
This further convinces me that supposed improvements based on modern technology, including the shidduch resume that can be emailed to anyone anywhere in the blink of an eye, actually interfere with young people seeing each other as people.

Free is free, and that's it.

Some of the newer free Jewish magazines print prices on the cover. These magazine are never sold, but they want to convince people that they are getting a publication worth $9.99 or whatever price they pick out of a hatr free -- what a bargain! One of the area's monthlies just started to do it with its fourth issue. It prints $1.75 on the bottom right corner with a slash through. Underneath that it says in very tiny letters (I would say 4 or 6 point type) "Free Promotional Issue" as if there are other issues out there that actually sell. I don't play those games. Every issue of Kallah Magazine has said "complimentary copy" without any claims of prices to attempt to increase the worth of the magazine in the eyes of other people. People should pick it up because they are interested in what it offers not because they are mislead into believing they are getting it at a special "markdown."
I remember there was an issue with department stores that were consistently offering their jewelry at 40-60% off. As they were never even offered for sale at the full price, they had to add on some disclosure to that effect. What if that would apply to all these publications? They could say" we think these paper is worth at least $1, but you may not agree. So we're giving it to you free. Please take it, so that our circulation figures have some real people on the receiving end." Now that would be honest! In truth, it is advertising rather than subsciptions that bring in the profits for publications.

Are you a Chanukah or Purim heroine type?

Chanukah is nigh. Though there is no text for it within TaNaCh, there are stories that include the heroism of Yehudith. She is the very strong and straight-forward type of heroine. She spoke up against the outrages committed against Jewish women. And she did not take a passive stance with respect to the general either. She only had to maintain a pretense with him for long enough to get him guard. Then she promptly chopped off his head with a sword. Very direct and to the point.
Esther, on the other hand, had to act subtly. She had to conceal her identity and her distaste for the role of queen to a king who hated the Jews as much as Haman did. She had to endure living with him for years beyond her coup of saving her people and establishing a holiday with a Megillah named in her honor that is read every year.

Another difference between the two is that of choice. Yehudith chose to act on her own volition. In contrast, Esther was taken as queen and directed by Mordechai when to keep a low profile and when to speak up. She, certainly, is one who had greatness thrust upon her and rose to the occasion.

So if you had the ability to choose, which heroine would you prefer to be?

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Should I mention Tiger Woods or

anything that I think will draw people's attention. Some people do such just to garner attention. And it does work. Put about a title suggesting salacious details, and your hits will go up exponentially. I know that. But I just can't bring myself to stoop to that level. Now if I were paid for it . . . no, I still wouldn't do it. Ah, well, it's all quite hopeless.

Getting married -- now or never?

on the questionable statistics that fan the flames of hysteria. The conventional wisdom would have the girls married off "young and dumb," as one cynical father put it, or "young and still on a spiritual high," as some may prefer to view it.

To see what he could see

The Divrei Chaim's post on "eyney haeda" brings up the notion of learning to see. That reminded me of a reading I used to incorporate in the the college English classes I taught. The narrator recounts how he learned to observe in a scientific manner. You can read it online at
The key quote is misrepresented by the box that appears because it only has half of it. In full it would be: "Facts are stupid things until brought in connection with some general law." I doubt, though, whether any instructor or student would have enough patience today to allow the student to work this all out on his own. The student would complain that the teacher isn't teaching and the teacher would think the student is too thick to realize the point without being pointed directly to it.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Emerging from the cave

Bad4Shidduchim brought up Rav Shimon Bar Yochai with respect to seeking a shidduch. In she mentions "he’s not either known for his tolerance of imperfect people, like me.” What is particularly interesting of the story of R' Shimon Bar Yochai in the cave is that he was forced to learn tolerance. The account appears in the Gemara in Shabos.

Rashbi and his son hid in a cave for 13 years (where they miraculously subsisted on the fruit of a carob tree and water) because his death was demanded for speaking critically of the emperor's accomplishments with respect to infrastructure. He stated that all of it was done for impure and selfish motives. When the emperor died, the decree was nullified, and he was informed he could leave the cave. But upon emerging he could not tolerate that the people were in engaged in field work. He denounced them for occupying themselves only with this world while foresaking the spiritual world. In his case, looks could kill. His gaze literally burned. Hashem was not pleased with this. A heavenly voice declared, "Did you come out to destroy my world? Return to the cave."

They did for another twelve months. After that, they were allowed to emerge. Though his son, still had a tendency to destroy the unworthy, his father counteracted him. They were appeased by seeing a man rushing on erev Shabbos with 2 bunches of myrtle. When they asked him about it, he explained that one was for zachor and one was for shamor. Doing a 180 degree turn on his previous condemnation of the people, Rashbi declared, " See how precious are the commandments to Israel!"

There are many lessons to be gleaned from this story. There are deep reasons why this particular mitzvah should have been key to their making peace with the state of affairs. It may have something to do with the fact that Shabbos is me'eyn olam haba, and what this man did demonstrated that our actions in olam hazeh in actuality are in prepartion for olam haba. But, undoubtedly, there is more to it. The number of 13 years plus another 12 months are also surely significant. It is also noteworthy that Rav Shimon ben Yochai reached a higher level of englightenment than his son, though they were in the exact same situation. But I will not cover all that now.

Rather I would say that this story actually is a perfect object lesson for those who seek their shidduch. When no one was good enough to meet Rashbi's standards, he had to exile himself -- despite the fact that his life was no longer under threat of death. His learning tolereance is not just a matter of lower expectation but a result of deeper understanding. It took an additional 12 months of intensive study to reach the level of enlightenment that would allow him to appreciate the good in others even though they were not perfect. So to connect all the dots here, certainly, one has a right to be selective about shidduchim. But this story demonstrates two ways of viewing others. Some people are quick to find the flaws and reject people out of hand (at least they are not able to zap them with laser eyes, but their shidduch resumes are likely tossed out because one of the background items didn't match the A list). It takes an even greater person to see the good in people and appreciate their true value.