Friday, February 26, 2010

Even Mordechai didn't make 100% in the popularity poll

See http://divreichaim.blogspot.com/2010/02/you-can-please-some-of-people-rav.html

Visit my site www.kallahmagazine.com -- not just for kallahs. You can also see posts at http://www.examiner.com/x-18522-NY-Jewish-Bridal-Examiner

Ever heard of Ezra and Nechemya?

The fact that Esther married Achashverosh is not a lesson in tolerance for marrying out, and it is a complete distortion of both history and halacha to say so..  She was forced, and had no desire to be the wife of the king.    There are numerous Gemaras that illuminate her situation and how she dealt with it -- not by indulging in facials and silk robes.   There was only one consolation for her, and that was recognizing that she was put into this position in order to be the instrument of salvation for her people.  Now, for those who do not crack open a Gemara or Ein Yaakov or Esther Rabba or even the commentary of Rashi on the Megillah, they can open a TaNaCh to the 10th chapter of Ezra. That the problem had to be addressed with no compromise is made abundantly clear, throughout that sefer.  As for a source in Torach, itself, remember the episode at the end of Parshad Korach for which Pinchas was specially rewarded?  It was not for saying, it's all fine.

Visit my site www.kallahmagazine.com -- not just for kallahs. You can also see posts at http://www.examiner.com/x-18522-NY-Jewish-Bridal-Examiner

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The image and Purim mask doesn't appeal to me

Just saw this : "The essence of women is like a pearl necklace ... each one tied to the next creates a beautiful strand of precious pearls... if one is missing the necklace is too short." The image is of pearls that all look alike -- no individuality. I am certain it was chosen because it can be so prettily illustrated with a necklace, and the writer  must believe that women will naturally gravitate to jewels.  Ick! The suggestion of too few coming up  too short is absurd.  How long a necklace should be all depends on what you want from it; there are many inches difference between a choker and an opera length string of pearls.  I am certain this simile  was chosen because it can be so prettily illustrated with a necklace, and the originator must believe that women will naturally gravitate to jewels. 

The context of this is a (not specifically Jewish) women's organization advertising a Purim event.  This is really a party as networking event.  Perhaps they should skip the food, as well as the inappropriate link to Purim [Esther did not rely on networking with other women to save her people] and just form a LinkedIn group:

MNOW is hosting her first New York event in honor of Women's International Day and the Miracle of Purim ... an evening in celebration of the essential spirit of Women with a special performance by Queen Esther!!

This evening will be one of inspiration and joy ~ music and dance ~ hors d'oeuvres and desserts ... bring business cards or brochures and network among women who share similar or supportive interests, businesses and/or services*


The primary mission of MNOW is to unite women of all spiritual cultures in an effort to foster peace in the world. Some of us are looking for spiritual inspiration, while others need a social experience or simply a resource for health and healing... and yet others are exploring avenues to network or promote a business service, or community events. MNOW wants to help you find whatever it is that will create peace within yourself and the world around you. So reach out and tell us what's important to you... perhaps we can help you connect to the right resource.


Visit my site www.kallahmagazine.com -- not just for kallahs. You can also see posts at http://www.examiner.com/x-18522-NY-Jewish-Bridal-Examiner

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Poetic justice as a sign of Divine intervention

On Purim, we celebrate a miracle that involved no splitting of the sea or oil burning far longer than it would naturally do.  It seems that we just got a queen on our side in the right place at the right time with a king that was besotted enough with her to give her whatever she asked.  Still, the salvation that Jews had from the decree to have them completely annihilated is regarded as nothing less than a miracle that is celebrated every year and commemorated in the reading of the story both in the night and the day of Purim.  So how did the people know that G-d played a role in this?  It is not immediately obvious.  In fact, you may notice that G-d's name is conspicuously absent from the entire chronicle as set in the Book of Esther, something rather unusual for a book in TaNaCh.

I would venture to say that the nahapoch hu -- the turnabout -- that is marked points to the poetic justice that was recognized as the signature style of the Divine.   Yithro told Moshe that he recognized the G-d of Yisrael as the Deity because He caused what was planned by the enemies to boomerang on them.  The words of the verse are "ata yadati ki gadol Hashem mikol haelohim ki vadavar asher zadu aleyhem" (Exodus 18: 11)  Some of the words here are implicit. Rashi explains the meaning to be as the Targum says, that the Egyptians plotted to destroy them with water and so were destroyed with water themselves. The Sforno learns differently in terms of what shows the poetic justice.  He stresses the plague of the first born, pointing out that it was the parallel to the Egyptian decree to drown all the baby boys.  Still, though, the essence of the matter is that the enemy's own weapons of mass destruction were turned against them in an ironic twist of justice. 


In the Purim story, there are several turnabouts that indicate the same type of poetic justice.  Haman, as we know, was hung from the very gallows that he erected for Mordechai.  But there's more!  The ring that was given to Haman was transferred to Mordechai.  Earlier on, the parade through the streets on the royal horse in royal robes that Haman wanted for himself was given to Mordechai. Even Zeresh, Haman's wife, and most shrewd advisor, did a 180 degree turn on Mordechai.  While initially she advised Haman how to plot his revenge on him, she then turned around and told him that he will not be able to overcome this person "mizera haYehudim" but rather will fall before him.  And, of course, we have the turnabout of granting the Jews what had been granted their enemies. Though the orignal decree could not be repeated, the Jews were allowed that day of the 13th of Adar (and the additional day of the 14th of Adar in Shushan)  the right to kill their enemies -- including every man, woman, and child -- and to take their possessions for themselves.  The Jews' triumph shows that the plot against them was turned on its head, and no one but Hashem himself, could engineer such a feat of poetic justice.

The last point is the same juxtaposition between this type of recognition on the part of the Jewish people that we see in Yithro and kabbalos haTorah .   Kiyemu vekiblu -- the Jews accepted the Torah once again, willingly embracing the Torah sheba'al peh  - the oral learning.  Esther is the end of the period of Tanach and beginning of the flowering of  Torah sheba'al peh.   


The Monkeysphere of 150

See http://www.internetevolution.com/author.asp?section_id=746&doc_id=188190


Visit my site www.kallahmagazine.com -- not just for kallahs. You can also see posts at http://www.examiner.com/x-18522-NY-Jewish-Bridal-Examiner

Monday, February 22, 2010

Two distinct types of heroines

Revisiting the question I brought up before Chanukah:  If you had the ability to choose, which heroine would you prefer to be? 

The eponymous heroine of Megillas Esther never sought attention for herself until she had to step up and act for the sake of her people.  Esther.   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, establishing a holiday, and adding a book to the canon of TaaNaCh honor that is read twice every year.


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.

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.



 
Visit my site www.kallahmagazine.com -- not just for kallahs. You can also see posts at http://www.examiner.com/x-18522-NY-Jewish-Bridal-Examiner

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Planning on a post: Bigthan and Theiresh are Dead

Title stolen from Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead by Tom Stoppard

Visit my site www.kallahmagazine.com -- not just for kallahs. You can also see posts at http://www.examiner.com/x-18522-NY-Jewish-Bridal-Examiner

Friday, February 19, 2010

Flitter - Twitter dating

Want to meet singles without being forced to interact with those that don't instantly appeal to you?  Then this may be for you.  I can just see someone adapting this for the frum community as selective speed dating.   See the video that presents the concept and commentary at http://www.internetevolution.com/video.asp?section_id=817&doc_id=188161&piddl_msgid=215463#msg_215463



Visit my site www.kallahmagazine.com -- not just for kallahs. You can also see posts at http://www.examiner.com/x-18522-NY-Jewish-Bridal-Examiner

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Sounds like it's Jewish

The name may make you think it is one of the degree programs such as the one described in http://kallahmagazine.blogspot.com/2010/02/his-and-her-education-as-depicted-by-2.html 
But it's not.  See http://www.chaiuniversity.com

Visit my site www.kallahmagazine.com -- not just for kallahs. You can also see posts at http://www.examiner.com/x-18522-NY-Jewish-Bridal-Examiner

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Purim pet peeve

The misrepresentation of the mitzvah of mishloach manos, especially by stores that try to use it as an occasion to sell their non-edible products.   The mitzah is to send food, ideally something that would enhance the Purim seudah.  You don't get extra mitzvah points for themes, original packages, or including groggers (what's the point after Megillah reading anyway?)   And though you may consider any holiday an occasion for giving gifts, there is absolutely no mitzvah to give jewelry on Purim.  Also  the decorative platters, bowls, boxes, and jars that you pack your mishloach manos in are tafel to the food with respect to fulfilling the mitzvah..
Visit my site www.kallahmagazine.com -- not just for kallahs. You can also see posts at http://www.examiner.com/x-18522-NY-Jewish-Bridal-Examiner

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Thoughts on Purim and the Unexpected

A few years ago I wrote a piece on Purim, specifically the event in the Megillah, entitled "Quite the Contrary."  Many key events in the story happen contrary to expectations, and the ostensible cause and effect belies what really is going on.  Related to that idea is that of the unexpected.

Amalek's attack was unexpected.  The element of surprise, of course, is a strategical advantage in warfare.  However, here the sneakiness is seen as a manifestation of their irreparable evil.  The unexpected can also be good, as we see in the birth of Yitzchak.  "Tzchok asa li Elokim; kol hashomea yitzchak li"Sarah exclaimed upon the birth of her son after so many decades of infertility.  The unexpected quality of his birth inspires laughter.  But here is it is not the incredulous laughter she is taken to task for when the imminent pregnancy is announced, but one of happiness.  It seems a forerunner of the ideal of "az yimale schok pinu" [then our mouths will be filled with laughter] that we visualize as our response to the ultimate redemption.  Yitzchak himself is the figure who saves the Jewish people in an unexpected way.  When Hashem seems to have lost all patience with the sins of His children, the other patriarchs can think of no defense.  It is Yitzchak who comes up with an unexpected argument.  Rather than arguing for their strengths, he wins on the basis of their weaknesses. Moshiach himself comes from an unexpected source, the scion of Moav via Ruth who made a rather unexpected marriage with Boaz.

Visit my site www.kallahmagazine.com -- not just for kallahs. You can also see posts at http://www.examiner.com/x-18522-NY-Jewish-Bridal-Examiner

Winter wedding planning

 See http://www.examiner.com/examiner/x-18522-NY-Jewish-Bridal-Examiner~y2010m2d16-Taking-New-York-winter-weather-into-account
Visit my site www.kallahmagazine.com -- not just for kallahs. You can also see posts at http://www.examiner.com/x-18522-NY-Jewish-Bridal-Examiner

The financial cost of a broken engagement

I have removed the details of this post at someone's request.   It was about a broken engagement, though it did not identify the parties involved.  It simply brought up the question of recouping costs when we don't have the  Tanaim at engagement (see http://www.-NY-Jewish-Bridal-Examiner~y2009m10d21-Aspects-of-the-Jewish-wedding) which stipulates very stiff penalties for breaking the engagement. The comments are interesting and are of general interest.  So I am leaving them up.



Visit my site www.kallahmagazine.com -- not just for kallahs. You can also see posts at http://www.examiner.com/x-18522-NY-Jewish-Bridal-Examiner

Monday, February 15, 2010

Web Writing: Where’s The Payoff?

Web Writing: Where’s The Payoff?

Visit my site www.kallahmagazine.com -- not just for kallahs. You can also see posts at http://www.examiner.com/x-18522-NY-Jewish-Bridal-Examiner

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Getting out without opening your wallet

Need an entertainment idea for tomorrow that won't break the bank? See http://www.examiner.com/x-18522-NY-Jewish-Bridal-Examiner~y2010m2d14-A-real-New-York-bargain--at-least-for-this-week#
Also the Metropolitan Museum of Art has coupons for free family admissions. Children 12 and under are always free. Suggested adult donation for admission is $20. It is pay what you wish, but if you feel awkward offering less than the suggested amount, take some kids in this week!

Visit my site www.kallahmagazine.com -- not just for kallahs. You can also see posts at http://www.examiner.com/x-18522-NY-Jewish-Bridal-Examiner

Friday, February 12, 2010

Searching for a soulmate

See the online dating discussion at http://www.internetevolution.com/author.asp?section_id=873&doc_id=187891 It offers some sensible warnings about dealing with the hazards of meeting people in such a forum. This is not from a religious point of view. However, as the original post mentioned JDate, among other sites, I offered a couple of other Jewish dating sites.

Visit my site www.kallahmagazine.com -- not just for kallahs. You can also see posts at http://www.examiner.com/x-18522-NY-Jewish-Bridal-Examiner

Why some are against fungible funds

Response to http://kallahmagazine.blogspot.com/2010/02/im-expanding-peoples-vocabulary.html
Note that while this person throws out the figure of $10,000, I actually wrote $30,000 in my original post. I wasn't suggesting the parents give the child too little to make a fine wedding and even possibly have some left over. Unfortunately, today $10,000 does not cover even 50% of most weddings. I also clarified within a post that the proposal does not mean the kallah has to go it alone in planning the wedding. Certainly, parents can help and accompany every step of the way. Only they would leave the choices to the one getting married with an understanding that there is only so much to spend altogether. While it is possible to go for the more expensive choices in some things (given my hypothetical number and situation) it is not possible to do so for all, and the budget may have to balanced by going for the cheaper option elsewhere.

Comment from Imamother:
I'ts not easy to plan a wedding so fast. The hall you want might not be available, the caterer you want, the band, etc. Sometimes it takes more than a week. Usually it takes more, from my experience in marrying off children.

As for giving them a sum of money, in theory that's great. In practice it doesn't always work out. For years I talked that way, said that each kid would get X and they could do what they want with it.

But then come the in laws. A wedding is not a bris, a bar or bas mitzva, or a sweet sixteen party. It's not a high school graduation party or a college graduation party.

guess what - there is another side involved.
And you want sholom bayis. At least at the beginning.
So if you are doing split down the middle like at most weddings in EY, you have to be able to match the other side. If your child decides that they want less (more is usually not the problem) then they can fight it out with their mechutanim, but the operative word is "decides". Not that your child can't provide his or her half financially, because that's already the start of trouble, even before the wedding.

Why have strife? Sure, if the other side suddenly wants a chasuneh in the Hilton with 1000 guests...then you can have strife if you can't afford it. But here it is customary that each side pays for their own guests, and the kids guests get split by both, and the "general things" (flowers, mesader kedushin, band, photographer etc.) are also split, and at the shabbat chatan (or sheva brochos shabbes depending on how you do it) each side pays for their own.

So...you have better had money saved up. What we did was put away money for each kid from birth. And that was supposed to cover wedding expenses. Only it didn't. We twice already have given that money to the kids as a present and covered all our wedding and shabbat chatan expenses totally out of pocket. But only because we could afford to. Had this been 20 years ago, the stage that many of you are at, of course we couldn't dream of it. We were also lucky (I guesS?) that there was so far two years between the first two weddings of kids and no others in sight, although they can surprise us...so we could recoup.

And yes, we didn't pay for any vacations or going away, nor do we go out, nor do we go to the movies, theatre or buy take away or anything expensive. We save for our kids. Full time. And whenever we have money it goes to the kids. This married one needs tuition, this married one needs something else, not to even mention the single kids.

But as for "fungible funds"? Let's say you tell your kids that you are giving them $10,000 for a wedding. Lovely. Nice sum. Only today? In your average middle class Israeli wedding that won't cover half a wedding. If you are lucky it will cover a third. Not to speak of not covering the shabbat chatan whatsoever (going away to a cheap place like a kibbutz guest house or something like that as there is no place where we could host 15 couples in our neighborhood and put them up).

And that leaves the kids nothing to start out with.
Sure, I could just see my daughter telling her machatenister that she was only going to have 50 people from her side while my machatenister had 350, because she can't afford it. You can be sure it would have given a bad taste to everything.

One wedding in a lifetime, hopefully, a very very special day. Something to look forward to and to dream about and remember. And there is payback. Lots of guests, lots of checks for the couple to start out with (hopefully).

But among secular I know that in a lot of cases those checks go and pay for the wedding itself. Not by us though...(or at least our family).


Visit my site www.kallahmagazine.com -- not just for kallahs. You can also see posts at http://www.examiner.com/x-18522-NY-Jewish-Bridal-Examiner

Thursday, February 11, 2010

I'm expanding people's vocabulary

with my post on imamother. If you're a member, you can see it, reply, and vote in the poll.
It's called Making a wedding with fungible funds
You can also comment here, particularly if you are not a member there. This is what it says:

Has anyone either been offered or offered their children a set amount to use for all wedding needs with the option to keep anything that is left for other uses? For example, you have $30,000 set aside. You let your child know she can spend it all on the catering, makeup, and gown however she sees fit. But you won't be able to give her any more money. Should she manage to get what she want for $27,000, she could keep the $3000 to spend on whatever she wants. did this ever happen in real life?

I also put up a poll that I will try to add here. Oh, the title of this post is due to a number of people admitting that they had to look up the word "fungible." I did try to make it clear from the context with an illustrative example, though.


Visit my site www.kallahmagazine.com -- not just for kallahs. You can also see posts at http://www.examiner.com/x-18522-NY-Jewish-Bridal-Examiner

How did they arrive at that?

I noticed on my home page at LinkedIn that it now includes jobs it assures me may be of interest. Well, some are close in terms of the nature of the position but far in terms of geography. It includes a number of editing jobs in California --too far away but a logical leap, nonetheless. But one job was for a Tai Chi Instructor. I It would be more than a logical leap to apply for a job as an instructor of something I know nothing about. I'm wondering what particular logarithm convinced LinkedIn that I would qualify.


Visit my site www.kallahmagazine.com -- not just for kallahs. You can also see posts at http://www.examiner.com/x-18522-NY-Jewish-Bridal-Examiner

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Multi-tasking women

The topic of multi-tasking came up for discussion on InternetEvolution.com.   Then the question of women's adeptness at handling multiple tasks simultaneously followed.  I commented as follows:
 Women are generally considered to be more adept at multitasking because the nature of their domestic  responsibilities call for handling a variety of tasks.   A SAHM usually wears many hats throughout the day, as cook, cleaner, driver, personal shopper, tutor, caregiver, coach, party planner, and even financial manager.  While she may have her other tasks on her mind while doing, say the cooking, she will have to keep her attention directed to the task at hand to measure and cut correctly.  So I would say that we may handle multiple tasks when only one really requires concentration.  But we usually can only concentrate  on only one activity at a time, so switching to another significant task usually requires suspending the first one.

As a simple example, baking a cake requires several steps along the way, measuring the wet and dry ingredients, mixing them together, pouring them in the pan, and then baking them.  I can manage to go through all the steps while keeping up a phone conversation with a friend or relative.  But I would pause if I were taking a business call because I would need to keep focused on the phone conversation and do not want to be distracted by checking if I measured a full two cups or not.  I can pause at certain steps to check on email, answer the phone, or even put up a quick post or comment.  Many women develop a rhythm of switching off when it works.

 Obviously, you don’t have to stand over the oven waiting for the cake to bake, but you also don’t want to end up out of the range of the kitchen when the cake is done.  So you can plan for a task for the appropriate length of time, then pause to remove the cake, and go on to another task.  It is not all that different from switching from household task, for example,  putting the laundry in the washer --  to another like vacuuming, and then returning to put the laundry in the dryer before it has settled into wet wrinkles.

But I know that when I write or even when I read a riveting book, I don’t like to have any distractions at all – not even a radio on. 

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

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.

This one made me do a double take

Someone sent me a friend request on FB. I often do accept people who FB friends in common with me if their profiles and pages look OK. This one definitely did not. One of the groups was: נשואים נשואות שמחפשים ולא מתביישים בזה. That's a direct quote; I didn't translate to obscure. For those of you who are Hebrew challenged, it means married people -- both male and female ) who are looking and are not ashamed. Look Hebrew, may be lashon naki, but not everything expressed in the language is.

One of the unpleasant discoveries made on FB was how many ostensibly frum people identify themselves with groups, games, and pages, that are very very far from the virtue of tznius.

So why am I on it? I am not on for games and voyeuristic questions. I really joined because social networking through such tools is considered imperative for businesses, especially media businesses. There are quite a lot of frum businesses on FB, some under actual business pages and some with the business listed as a person to friend. Of course one must filter on FB. But the more I see, the less likely I would be to advocate teens to join.

Related post: http://kallahmagazine.blogspot.com/2009/12/facebook-and-teens.html

would you like to learn about miracle drugs and who knows what?

I'm considering allowing all my spam comments through.  At least there will be some comments then. Yeah, that's a hint. 

Monday, February 08, 2010

If Austen were around today . . .

Would she blog? There actually is more than one FB page devoted to Jane, but there is not much on them.  Anyway, the question came up in response to What Did Jane Austen Know About Social Media?  Personally, I don't think she was quite as polite as she is made out to be, and those familiar with her letters would see what I mean.

Meta-criticism in a new light

If you are subscribed to the LinkedIn group Writing Mafia, you can see the thread, http://www.linkedin.com/groupAnswers?viewQuestionAndAnswers=&discussionID=12283857&gid=44010&trk=EML_anet_qa_ttle-cnhOon0JumNFomgJt7dBpSBA
Essentially someone asked for feedback on his blog and had a less than positive reaction to the initial response that came in.  This is followed with some back and forth on appropriate response, both as applied to the initial feedback and the writer of the query's outraged response.

We've come a long way, but not in our own society

No doubt about it, if Devorah were around today, she would be rejected and aspersion would be cast upon her motives.  I guess people were more open-minded about women several thousand years ago than they are in modern times.
That's my latest comment on http://divreichaim.blogspot.com/2010/02/noble-ideals-no-matter-what-title-is.html 
It seems we've adopted the Victorian ideal as the Jewish ideal while the history of Jewish women is not so restricted.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Depressed by dating?

This may be for you: "Rebbetzin Aviva Feiner is starting a brand new series this month entitled, "Will Dating Ever Lead To Marriage, What Is Its Purpose?" This shiur will take you on an introspective journey that will bring you to a higher sense of self and the awareness of positive aspects that the dating process can bring. Rebbetzin Feiner's shiur will begin at 8:30 at the Feiner residence, 1133 Sage Street in Far Rockaway.

French or Russian

not the language, not the dressing either.  The terms here refer to a style of service.  See -NY-Jewish-Bridal-Examiner~y2010m2d7-Selecting-your-caterer--key-terms-to-know
Also check out: NY-Jewish-Bridal-Examiner~y2010m2d7-Controlling-catering-costs

Friday, February 05, 2010

His and her education as depicted by 2 ads

These ads appeared in the local paper this week.  Let's take the ladies first:
"Seminary for Girls" a local program, offering daily morning "Interactive Classes."  "Curriculum includes trip to Eretz Yisroel."  We are not told who is teaching or running the school, though we are assured that it is "Under the guidance & direction of leading and renowned Torah educators from here and Eretz Yisroel." So your guess is as good as mine.  It features: "Inspiring lectures on various topics: Halacha & hashkafa, Shabbos & Yomim Tovim, Kashrus, Foundations of building a Jewish home, The Shidduch process, Weekly parsha."    The first few items on the list are standard, the last a bit light -- a seminary should offer in depth textual study of TaNaCh, no just weekly parsha -- but did you catch the penultimate one and the one before that?  And I thought finishing schools were . . . well, finished.

And here is what is proposed for the husbands-to-be: In huge letters: "WHY PAY $30,000 for a BACHELORS DEGREE" [there is no question mark there.}
It continues in smaller letters except for the numbers which are as large as the numbers above: "WHEN YOU CAN GET FOR $9,000 BY LEARNING TWO SEDARIM." [font size  shrinks further in the continuation]
"ALL SECULAR REQUIREMENTS TAUGHT AT ------OF -------"

The Er and Onan Society

Here is a comment that appeared on the orthonomics. blog (note that the is not the view the blogger herself was promoting):
"my concern is that rather than encouraging couples to ask for a heter to use birth control, Rabbonim should be making that initial delay the DEFAULT, with couples needing a heter in order to have kids right away."
This view is perverse from a halachic point of view, a feminist point of view, and even a sociological point of view. Get back to basics people, starting with Bereishis, stopping at Shmos with the midrashim on bizchus nashim tzidkaniyus nigalu avoseinu. I am not entering into the question of when and how contraception would be permissible here. That is a halachic discussion that requires first an understanding of the requirements on both a minimal and optimal level. What is beyond astounding, though, is that people completely pervert what psak is about when they make declarations such as the one above.

As for the title, I am not referring to method but to the philosophy of the person named Onan, as well as his brother Er, which seems to be right in line with what the commentator proposes. It may make sense, but it was not what Hashem wanted, as He made abundantly clear. We are not likely to see people struck down in this generation which is far removed from such direct intervention. But that does not mean the lesson of the story no longer applies.

Pst, want to make some money off the books?

That's how I titled the post on a job offer with cash payments among its benefits on the Ezra LinkedIn Group.  I got some comments there that I posted to my blog post on the subject here:
http://kallahmagazine.blogspot.com/2010/01/it-sitll-amazes-me.html

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Would you say that Rivka came from a "nice family?"

Sounds like a regular shidduch question, doesn't it?  In fact that is the question that underlies the post: http://badforshidduchim.wordpress.com/2010/02/01/question-of-the-week-nice-family/
But the title of this post is quite specific.  The Rivka referred to is none other than Rivka Immeinu.  Remember, Avraham sent his trusted servant, Eliezer, all the way back to his home country to find a suitable bride for Yitzchak.  Eliezer spotted Rivka and came up with his own test to assess whether or not she was worthy of his master's son.  He decided on her before asking who her parents were.  While it's true that yichus is among the reasons offered for selecting a wife, (see http://kallahmagazine.blogspot.com/2008/08/15th-of-ave-take-4-differing-accounts.html) it seems to have been perceived only on the plus side rather than as a reason to screen someone out.  

Yitzchak's marriage to Rivka is actually foreshadowed in the account of progeny that follows the story of the akeida.    Avraham is told that his brother had children whose progeny lead up to the birth of his son’s bashert, Rvfka.  A a number of people’s names are included in that genealogy, but the name of Lavan, Rifka’s older brother is conspicuously missing.  One possible answer is that he need not be mentioned because once the Torah arrives at Bethuel’s name, it can immediately mention the birth of his daughter without listing his other children.  However, the fact that her brother's name is left off shows that the standard of checking out the brother as a way of assessing if the family is "nice" should not be a deterrant to the match.

There is a principle advanced in Bava Basra (110A) that one who marries a wife should check out her brother because his character foretells how her sons will turn out.  Rashi quotes this in connection to Vaera 6:23 to explain why the Torah mentions the name of the brother of Aharon’s wife.   In that instance, the brother was a most illustrious character, a propitious choice for the husband.  But we know that Lavan, Rivka's brother, was a notorious rasha, an idol worshipper who took pride in duping people.  As for her father, according to the Midrash, the poison that he intended for Elizer was shifted to his own plate, so only his own death prevented him from carrying out a murder.  It doesn't sound like a nice family, does it?  
Nevertheless, Elizer presented Rivka as a suitable bride.  And she proved herself a most worthy wife and matriarch.  (As an added note, this parasha is layned on Rosh Hashana; perhaps it has something to teach about perspective and judgement.)
 
 As for the argument that you don't just marry the individual, but the family the person was born into, that is very true.  But knowing that his uncle was utterly wicked and not to be trusted, Yaakov, at the advice of his parents, sought an alliance with his daughter. Consequently, he had to contend with the trickery, suspicion, and threats of a father-in-law you would not wish on your worst enemy.  Rachel and Leah also came from a family that would not make the "nice" cut in the shidduch question.   Still, they were great in their own right and quite worthy of the role of Immahos.

If a picture is worth a thousand words . . .

how much is a slide show worth?  How about 3 of them?  Check out some beautiful pics at Picture-perfect-scenes-on-Long-Island-Atlantis-Marine-World Picture-perfect-scenes-on-Long-Island-Planting-Fields-Arboretum-State-Historic-Park,
-Picture-perfect-scenes-on-Long-Island: Nassau Museum
Comments are welcome on the Examiner posts.

The words you use may speak volumes about your marriage

I have to credit Elizabeth Oakes, the National Wedding Examiner for linking to:. 
couples_who_refer_to_themselves_as_we_are_happier_than_those_who_say_i_me_or_you.html
You've heard, "there is no 'I' in team."  Well, there is something to how you think of your identity when you are linked to another.  As study found that couples who usually use "we," "us," "our," etc., were in a stronger relationship than those who use "I," and "me," in contradistinction to "you."
So the idea of ishto kegufo -  his wife is like himself [literally, his body] really illuminates how very together the couple should be in terms of identification.

Something to think about when preparing for Shabbos

In last week's parsha, Moshe instructs the Israelites about the mann. It was not to be kept from day to day, except for on Friday, when a double portion was to be taken because the mann did not fall on Shabbos. The mann was edible in its natural state. Nevertheless, Moshe brings up the possibility of baking and cooking it within the context of Shabbos: "Shabbathon, shabbas kodesh LaHamshem machar, es asher to'fu, efu, ve'es asher tevashlu, bashelu, ve'es kol haodef hanichu lachem lemishmeres ad haboker"  (Shmos 16: 23).  The Ramban explains that it is possible to read the text to mean that they would only bake and boil what they wanted for that day -- Friday -- and leave the rest of the double portion in its raw state for Shabbos.  But he actually prefers not to read it that way.

I would suggest that it can also be read as cooking the whole amount and leaving cooked mann for Shabbos. It is a mitzvah to honor the Shabbos by cooking and baking for special foods to be enjoyed at the festive meals we set out each during the evening and the day.  So even though they could have just eaten the mann in the state in which it fell from the skies, they would take the trouble of cooking and baking it to have the mitzvah of preparing for Shabbos.  I mentioned the fact that there is merit in preparing things oneself rather than just "buying Shabbos" -- that is leaving all the cooking ot the takeout plac.  We learn this from Tananim who would make a point of doing work personally in order to prepare for Shabbos.  They did not consider themeselves too important or too busy to do "menial" chores that were in honor of the day.  BTW, lest you think this is someonthing that only concerns women, pay attention to the grammatical construction of the verbs in the statement; they are written in the general plural -- not the feminine form.