I am utterly sick of

the ladies who lunch mentality which pervades frum society in general and my daughters' school in particular. It is consistently promoted not just by the materialistic traits of the surrounding community but by teachers who are not themselves ladies of enough leisure to lunch. It is, apparently, laudable to occupy female minds with the equivalent of trivial adornments because, as my daughter says, "We're girls and we're not supposed to learn." This is the outgrowth of the fear of feminist influence creeping in when a girl is taught to use her mind, think, and enjoy the process of analysis. Heaven forbid! The girls may want to learn mishanyos (as Sarah Shnirer herself did when she had yartzeit -- check her biography), and then develop curiosity about Talmudic studies. Perish the thought!

So we will keep the girls directed to things like "chessed projects" that consist of shopping sprees. I am not making this is up. This is the latest proposal my daughter came up with. When she first said "chessed project," I said why not visit a nursing home or a hospital? Now, that is a true chessed begufo -- giving of oneself. But that is not what they propose to do. Instead, this "chessed" consists of buying candy and cutsie pencils for children who don't have them -- a task that is much more fun for a young girl than brightening up the day of a sick and/or old person with her presence.

It is so very ladies who lunch, by which I mean that it is something that costs money, is fun for the person doing it, and is stuck in the realm of the trivial. Yes, as my daughters always say, our standards are rather too high for this generation. But this generation is directed not to reach for the stars but for the carpet on the floor. When the bar is that low, there is no motive for a person to ever aspire higher.


Anonymous said…
I think grasping for the carpet is unfortunately right. Teachers should encourage children to think, not just "go along with the flow". Visiting elderly people in the hospital forces them to think of others who can instill them with the wisdom of an age gone by, or just feel more comfortable with the presence of someone much younger than they, someone "filled" with the joys of life. But instead they go "pencil shopping". Theres the financial crisis, the "shidduch crisis" but no one seems to realize the extant of the "Education Crisis".
Ariella said…
That's very well put. I'm surprised you didn't want your name on to take credit for it.
Yitzhak said…
Ah, but a man's reach should exceed his grasp,
Or what's a heaven for?

-- Robert Browning, Andrea Del Sarto


One of my mother's favorite quotes.
Ariella said…
and mine, too. I had it in mind in phrasing the end of the post.
Orthonomics said…
Can I schedule this as a guest post? It won't be this week because there are other cultural issues being examined I'm sorry to say.

On a related note, a local school had a fundraiser in conjunction with a local mall. One of the parents was spot on when she said something to the effect of our girls don't need to turn shopping into a mitzvah.


I agree with Anonymous that we have an "Education Crisis" on our hands. Really the parenting, sechel, and education issues are all issues of cultural. But let's keep talking about the "shidduch crisis" shall we? . . .. .
Anonymous said…
I am all for visiting the elderly & sick as I did with my youth group on Shabbos Afternoons etc.
& I am by no means the lady who goes to lunch.

But for some kids, they are not comfortable doing this (they may be too shy) and giving things to pp who dont have it is still something they may be more comfortable with. (even though going to visit the pp is actually a good thing for them to do to overcome this)

However, you are still brightening the day of the recepient too..even without your prescence..

They are learning to be unselfish and to be giving & bottom line to think of others who dont have instead of I need this & I need the latest in fashion etc. So I wouldnt knock it totally..

I one organized young girls making shalach manos where we got the items donated from the local stores and I had the girls wrap up the items, bake the hamenstashen & they did deliver it to the pp themselves..So that allowed for all the girls to participate in a multi faceted way....
Anonymous said…
I had a wonderful Talmud Professor who some of us referred to as Tzelofchad because he was not blessed with sons but with 5 daughters. When they were young he began teaching them Mishnayot, then Gemara. And guess what - the sky did not fall over New York City, the sun did not stand still in Giv'on nor the moon in the Ayalon Valley. Imagine that - frum girls growing up with more than 1/2 a used brain! Woe unto you frummies - male or female - who deny your daughters what is clearly a permissible pleasure - learning Torah to the maximum extent of their intellectual abilities. Those who do will one day have to give a Din v'Cheshbon to the KB"H.
Ariella said…
Your mishloach manos project is a very nice one. Unfortunately, if they were to propose one here, it would probably involve buying the ready made packages that all the kosher stores here sell. At best, they would assemble the packages themselves but would fill it with candy and junk food all packaged and sealed.

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