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Showing posts from 2012

WWII exhibit & movie

I wrote a brief review of the WWII &NYC exhibit at the New York Historical Soceity. It's well worth seeing. If you are off this week, you can also come for the special family programs associated with it. If not, the exhibit will remain in place until May 27, 2013.



In keeping with the theme the museum will be showing the film, The Search. Unfortunately, though the showing is scheduled for a Friday night. Ask if your library has it in its media holdings, though, because it's an excellent film about a boy (not Jewish) who is separated from his mother during the war in Europe, as he was taken to a concentration camp. All the rest of the family was killed, but she survived and seeks him out. An American soldier finds the boy after he has run away from the agency that takes in the children. While the ending is inevitable, it is still very effectively done. Note that while this is not geared toward young children, as deaths and the ravages of war are central to the story, it…

This Sunday

In this post, we look at the significance of the 10th of Teves and why you shouldn't rely on Wikipedia.

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Well met

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Note: I wrote this up last week, but never posted it here, so here it is still in time for this week's parsha.

After the disruption caused by Hurricane Sandy to my part of Long Island, the regular Monday night class with Rav Goldvicht resumed. At tonight's class he mentioned several concepts linked to Jewish marriage. . One of them is insight into the three meetings at a well recounted in TaNaCh that resulted in betrothals. The first one was recounted in the text we read last Shabbos: Eliezer's quest to find a bride  for Yitzchak. The well is what served as his test of whether or not the girl he encounters will demonstrate the trait of kindness that distinguishes the ways of Avraham. The test was to see if the girl would not only willingly share her water r with him but also offer to give the camels to drink. While that is a familiar story to most of us, Rav Goldvicht explained that it was not merely the kindness of the act but the sensitivity displayed. Eliezer's requ…

Thanksgiving related posts

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I tried to look up my posts that touch on this national holiday, but Google refused to help. I'm not kidding. It perforce showed the search results that included my Examiner posts but only offered error responses when I tried to click over to them. But they really are there, so if you are interested, here are a few:

For thoughts on Jewish holiday celebrations http://www.examiner.com/article/thanksgiving-dinner-more-than-once-a-year-on-the-jewish-calendar
For thoughts on the consumerism of the season, especially the absurd frenzy that marketer try to whip up with Black Friday specials: http://www.examiner.com/article/joy-alert-tis-the-season-for-self-control

For a good Shabbos recipe: http://www.examiner.com/article/cranberries-are-not-just-for-thanksgiving

If you prefer to use fresh cranberries in dessert, see the apple crisp recipe




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Divrei Chaim: the hurricane, the snow, and the tent of the Imaho...

Divrei Chaim: the hurricane, the snow, and the tent of the Imaho...: There is still no power in much of Far Rockaway and Bayswater (and other neighborhoods -- I mention these in particular because they are clo...

on shalom bayis

Sometimes we lose sight of the forest and focus too much on individual trees. The same holds true for the populairyt of segulos as an instant solution to problems.

from  the inimitable Barzilai
Something That Works Better Than a Segula

Eli sent me a link to the introduction of a sefer called טיב החסד (published two years ago by R' Gamliel Rabinowitz/Rappaport, associated with ישיבת שער השמים),  in which he tells us a story about the Satmerer Rov's reaction to the Shalom Bayis explanation of the minhag:
הרה"ק מסאטמר זצוק"ל שמע פעם מאחד הרבנים שמדקדק לקפל הטלית מיד במוצאי שבת קודש, שמקובל לסגולה לשלום בית. ענה לו רבי יואלש בחן פקחותו, כמה שהסגולה עוזרת איני יודע. אבל אם מיד במוצאי שבת תקפל גם השרוולים ותיגש לעזור בעבודת הבית זה בוודאי יעזור that he's not sure how much the segula (of folding the tallis right after Shabbos is to bring Shalom Bayis) helps.  But if right after Shabbos someone would fold up his sleeves and get to work helping to put the house in order, th…

Soul Mate Search

Men often say that they are mystified by what women think, but sometimes women may wonder what men think -- at least what they think of marriage. In VoiceMale, Neil Chethik explores what husbands think through surveys and individual anecdotes. The book contains insight, as well as practical advice. Among the subjects it touches on is the ideal of marrying a soul mate and the ramifications of that expectation. Chethik refers to The National Marriage Project's 2001 report, State of Our Unions. Among its finding is that nearly all agree on is the ideal of the One: An overwhelming majority (94%) of never married singles agree that "when you marry you want your spouse to be your soul mate, first and foremost." The "Someday my prince will come" idea popularized by Disney movies also extends to men's expectation of their own soul mates, as 88% "think that there is a special person, a soul mate, waiting for you somewhere out there." . On p. 216 of the bo…

Know it all?

Leah Hager Cohen wrote a piece entitled "The Courage to Say I Don't Know." She ends as follows:

In Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s “Émile: Or, Treatise on Education,” the philosopher writes, “I do not know is a phrase which becomes us.” Too often we fear uttering these words, convinced that doing so will diminish us, will undermine our status and block our advancement.
In fact these words liberate and empower. So much of the condition of being human involves not knowing. The more comfortable we become with this truth, the more fully and unabashedly we may inhabit our skins, our souls, and – speaking of learning – the more able we become to grow.
All true. Her words reminded me of what Rabbi Meiselman said in Passaic  a dozen or more years ago. My husband relayed that one of the men in the audience said that his six-year-old daughter asked him what it mean that Hashem said to bring a kapara for Him for having made the moon smaller.  Rabbi Meiselman responded that he didn't hav…

Measuring improvement

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With election around the corner, the usual question of "Are you better off now than four years ago?" appear. There are even data visualization activities that allow you to enter the information with which to answer that question, like here:



by CNNMoney.


It occured to me that the key questions for being "better off" always center around material goods. As you can see, the first question is "Are you making more money?" That's understandable because it is focusing on the usual measure assigned to standard of living. 

It occurred to me, however, that this is not the ultimate measure, and that we really could be "better off" now than in the past if we measure progress in another way. As we are now winding down from the first month of the new year, it is something to consider. When we measure where we are versus where we were, can we say that we are doing better? And I do mean doing.

Are we doing more mitzvos than we were in the past? Are we demons…

On the Gold Coast

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Sands Point Preserve is a nice place to visit on a nice fall day. -- with the opportunity for a bounty of colorful foliage.  But do be aware that the information on the sites associated with Sand s Point Preserve are out of date and represent the entry fee as half of what it is now. I fill in that bit of information, as well as other details in my post. 

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Marriages may be made in heaven, but their success depends on what you do on earth

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Dr. John Gottman is  famous for his research on relationships, particularly for his success at predicting whether or not a marriage will last. It’s not a parlor trick but the result of analytics, which he explains with formulas  in his latest book, What Makes Love Last? How to Build Trust and Avoid Betrayal (Simon and Schuster, Sep 4, 2012). 

The background for all of Gottman's work is to get beyond the assumption that you just can't quantify the fuzzy feelings that underlie relationships. There are real, measurable actions and attitudes that indicate how in sync a couple are, and you don't need to go through all the Greek letters in the equations to understand the point of them. 
At the basis of all successful relationships is trust:  "Trust is not some vague quality that grows between two people. It is the specific state that exists when you are both willing to change your own behavior to benefit your partner" (6).   He clarifies that he doe snot mean that one …

Not bad is not good enough

Rav Goldvicht held his shir tonight instead of Monday. He spoke about Yom Kippur and Sukkoth. He stressed that this time of year is when we work on effecting tikkun through speech. We add tefillos, slichos, and seek to repair our relationships with each other by asking for mechila (in contrast to the drawing together on Purim, which is achieved primarily through deeds, i.e. mishloach manos) 

Among the sources he referenced was a Zohar from Metzorah. It says that just as one will be accountable for using speech to bad effect, one will be held accountable for not having spoken when one could have used speech for good.

This is a profound point. We tend to think of shmiras halashon, which is guarding speech from lashon hara --  that is avoiding the negative. But how often do we consider what we can say that will be a good use of speech? The Zohar tells us that it is not enough to not do bad. One can't be complacent about what one has avoided; one has to actively do good.

Shana tova umetuka!

I just put up a post on teshuva m'ahava at http://www.examiner.com/article/what-s-love-got-to-do-with-teshuva-1
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Key Questions for Content Marketing

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I draw on my experience as Executive Editor of Kallah Magazine in my guest post for Level343.com.  I explain what to expect from content marketing and the questions to go through to be sure it is as effective as possible.

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Women's olam habah

Divrei Chaim: women's share in the reward for talmud torah: 1) In the daf hayomi for this past shabbos (Brachos 17) the gemara writes that women are promised more reward than men in olam ha'bah for th...[see the rest by following the link]

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Trashing the dress: a bad idea all around

See http://www.examiner.com/article/trashing-the-dress-tragedy

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Shidduch dating tips

This is not my list. This is what Saw You at Sinai posted for girls. It's posted at http://news.yahoo.com/jewish-dating-sawyouatsinai-provides-female-dating-tips-create-160235424.html I checked but couldn't find a parallel list for boys.

If I were giving the advice, I''d keep it much simpler: Be a mensch. As Hillel told the prospective convert who wanted to know all of Torah on one foot -- what is hateful to you, don't do to another.(see http://kallahmagazine.blogspot.com/2012/02/all-you-need-is.html) The rest is all commentary. The same holds true in this case. For example, isn't it obvious, if a guy gives you options, that he wants you to respond with what you would prefer?
Anyway here's the list of tips.

Preparing for the Date:
    If the male has called twice with no response and left a voicemail, then at that point the female should be courteous, and either return the call, or text the male to let them know when they will be available to speak.    If th…

the laws of shadchanus

NOTE: I am merely transcribing and commenting. I am not offering any halachic opinion here. I would appreciate hearing from those of you who have actual experience either as the payer or payee in the situation of shidduchim. I'm particularly interested to know if the shadcahn was still paid in full if the shidduch was broken off -- particularly if the full fee depends on both parties when one of them is the one who decided to cut it off.


Saw You at Sinai offers some guideline with footnotes that reference halachic sources on http://www.sawyouatsinai.com/laws-of-matchmaking.aspx

On the top of the page is:  LAWS OF MATCHMAKING
Q. A common question that is asked to the SYAS office- What is the going rate that one should pay to a matchmaker if they successfully match you with your spouse (regardless if this is a friend, relative or volunteer matchmaker)? The current rate is approximately $2,000 per couple. The actual amount though should be discussed between the singles and their Rabbi.

A good choice for a NY day trip

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You can also plan on it for Chol Hamoed Sukkoth (it would not have yet opened for the season for Pesach) I just wouldn't advise taking children along. There are some age restrictions, a lack of stroller access, and most would find the tours too long.
http://www.examiner.com/review/visiting-kykuit

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Bechira and anochi

from http://divreichaim.blogspot.com/2012/08/hakol-bydei-shamayim-chutz-myirah-free.html
I can't resist posting an amazing vort of the Oheiv Yisrael, R' Avraham Yehoshua Heschel, on Parshas Toldos.  Rikva felt kicking in her womb when she passed houses of avodah zarah worship; she felt kicking in her womb when she passed the beis medrash. She says, "Lamah zeh anochi?" and goes to seek the advice of a Navi.  What troubled Rikva so much? The Oheiv Yisrael writes that Rikva thought she had one child in her womb.  Every person, even a child, has to make certain choices.  One person may choose to follow his heart to a house of avodah zarah; another person may choose to follow his heart into the beis medrash -- but we each must choose.  Bechira chofshis is not just about how we behave -- it's about how we define ourselves, our sense of identity, our sense of self.  Bechira is not about what you do -- it's about who you are.  When Rivka felt what she thought was the …

Not all who do evil are plotting to take over the world

This morning, I was thinking about what I found so upsetting about people who neglect their responsibilities, ignore their deadlines, and fail to pay attention to the duties of their position. Then I remembered some key books that hit on the crux of the issue.

Dickens creates an unforgettable portrait of that type of evil in Bleak House.Harold Skimpole plays the role of the helpless infant who must depend on others because he just can't be responsible. Jarndyce acts generously with him because he sees him as helpless. But Dickens points out that the pose of helplessness itself is manipulative, and Skimpole is quite capable when it comes to scheming.
continue reading at http://uncommoncontent.blogspot.com/2012/08/its-easy-to-be-evil.html

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Tu B'av is this Friday: here's some background info

what-we-celebrate-on-the-15th-of-av-part-1-of-3
hat-we-celebrate-on-the-15th-of-av-part-2-of-3
what-we-celebrate-on-the-15th-of-av-part-3-of-3

For more in depth analysis of the text describing what the young women did and said, see the links at http://kallahmagazine.blogspot.com/2009/08/thoughts-on-tu-bav.html



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Roundup of posts for Shabbos Chazon and Tisha B'Av

The Persistent Prostitute

In The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty: How We Lie to Everyone – Especially Ourselves.(Harper Collins), Dan Ariely presents a  simplified version of a striking episode in Menachos 44a. What’s fascinating about this story (in striking contrast to the more famous episode with a a prostitute, which ends with the man’s teshuva and instant entrance in the World to Come) is that it does not end on the note of triumph for the man who resisted temptation and walked away. The story then shifts its focus to the prostitute who wants to understand what is this all about and then becomes Jewish herself and marries the very same man. The text here is copied from http://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/530129/jewish/In-the-Words-of-the-Sages.htm:
Rabbi Nattan said: there is no "minor" mitzvah in theTorahwhose observance isn't rewarded in this world and the next. How much is the reward? Let us use the mitzvah oftzitzitas an example: There was once a man who was meticulous in the obs…

Honor and Honesty

I started reading Dan Ariely’s latest book, The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty: How We Lie to Everyone – Especially Ourselves.(Harper Collins). In the course of the book, he recounts what seems to make people more apt to cheat and what seems to dampen the effect. One of the measures that he found works in an experiment is to have people recall the Ten Commandments. “It seemed that merely trying to recall moral standards was enough to improve moral behavior” (p. 40).  It also works to remind students of standards by having them sign an honor code when taking a test  --even in universities that don’t have an official one (p. 43). 
In connection to this, I thought about two Gemoros, and as I want to do whatever I can to bring geula at this time in the year, I want to credit my son, Eliezer, with finding the pages for me (sparing me from trying to find them via Google). Tractate Nidda (73)ends on a nice note that works well for a siyum. That’s where Ra’ Eliyahu is quoted as saying “Kol…

Jewish guilt

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This is a real question in my mind: what does Jewish guilt mean to you?  I was wondering, is guilt  a constant associated with Jewish identity or an invention of the 20th century.
I'll start it off by sharing my husband's view that it is due to Jewish mothers.


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On the 17th of Tammuz, which we will be observing on the 18th

http://www.examiner.com/article/observing-the-17th-on-the-18th

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Divrei Chaim: 40 day cram session

Divrei Chaim: 40 day cram session: The gemara writes that midah tovah outweighs punishment by a scale of 500 to 1. Chazal illustrate the point from the fact that in the merit ...

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For the first day of summer: seasonal beauty tips

Summer safe beauty for brides and anyone.

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Divrei Chaim: ishbitzer on nesachim and challah

Divrei Chaim: ishbitzer on nesachim and challah: The story of the mergalim is immediately followed by the parsha of nesachim and the parsha of mitzvas challah, both of which seem out of pla...

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What the Wall Street Journal Can Teach You About Marriage

I'm making fun of the usual gimmicky title construction I've been seeing in relation to marketing. But the fact is that there is an excellent article on marriage in the Wall Street Journal entitled "Need Space in a Relationship? Just Don't Say It That Way."
Dr. Orbuch recently analyzed one year of data from her study and found more wives than husbands (31% versus 26%) reported not having enough space. She believes this is because women often have less time to themselves than men. 
 Introverts, in particular, tend to need space on their own, and this is one of the things that Laurie Helgoe touched on in her book, Introvert Power: Why Your Inner Life Is Your Hidden Strength. She's an introvert married to an extrovert. Her husband understood her need for space but wanted a gentler parting. See more on that book and other mixed couples here. Also related http://www.examiner.com/article/some-like-it-quiet

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It's a matter of halacha not feminism

This issue came up because someone posted an article in which she decried the "feminist" agenda of certain seminaries that train young women to emulate the spiritual life of men in learning Torah and believing they have an obligation to daven in full. The writer finds herself overwhelmed already with the obligations to take care of her children, household. As she does not have the time to learn and finds the suggested 40 minutes davening time her seminary teacher suggested unattainable, she believes she should relieve the pressure on herself by chucking all those feminist trappings of learning and davening and stick to changing diapers and driving her kids to soccer and ballet practice. Now here's the thing: why can a woman carve out the time to drive her kids to soccer and ballet practice but not for davening? Consider what message that gives about the focus on olam hazeh. (I have nothing against sports and dancing -- great exercise -- but one has to keep ikar and tafel…

Rabbi Slatkin on marriage myths

You know someone once actually told me, "marriage is painful." I have some thoughts of my own on that, but for now I'll share what Rabbi Slatkin wrote here

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Fire Island lighthouse

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Slideshow http://www.examiner.com/slideshow/fire-island-lighthouse that illustrates http://www.examiner.com/review/fire-island-s-lighthouse-a-steep-climb

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Savings and tzedaka: a great combo for a simcha

A great idea! Check out http://www.bridesmaidshare.com

A. When you borrow a dress through the website, we ask that you make a minimum $36 donation to Yad Eliezer's Adopt-A-Wedding program. Yad Eliezer wants to enable every Jewish bride and groom in Israel to celebrate their wedding with joy. Their Adopt-A-Wedding program provides opportunities to sponsor the weddings of couples in need, and we are excited to support this important cause. While we aren't adopting a specific wedding, our efforts will contribute to many weddings in Israel. After you borrow a dress, just click on the "Donate" tab, and there will be a link for Yad Eliezer's website where you can make a donation.
**IMPORTANT:** In the "Comments" section, please write "Bridesmaidshare.com" so that we can keep track of how much money we have raised and celebrate our accomplishments!
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Sunday plans: gardens or trains

Seethe program on Monet and roses at the New York Botanic Garden. But if you have kids along who are bored by flowers and art, they may enjoy riding miniature trains. The Suffolk attractions described are free (donationsfor train ride)


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The science of marriage success then and now

"The April 1924 issue of Science and Invention magazine ran an article by Hugo Gernsback, the magazine’s publisher, which examined the different “scientific” ways to determine if a marriage will succeed or fail." See highlights in  http://blogs.smithsonianmag.com/paleofuture/2012/05/mechanical-matchmaking-the-science-of-love-in-the-1920s/ The body odor test sounds quite bizarre, but you have to realize that in the 1920s deodorants were not available in drug stores.

For better accuracy in prediction marriage success, look into the work of the most recognized expert in the field today, John Gottman.  See http://kallahmagazine.blogspot.com/2012/10/marriages-may-be-made-in-heaven-but.html

Visit my site http://kallahmagazine.weebly.com/

Sight on the sea on May 23

OpSite arrives in New York for a week. See http://www.examiner.com/article/opsail-new-york-may-23-may-30

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Inspired by real life mail

http://www.examiner.com/article/the-problem-with-wedding-registries

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Divrei Chaim: be all that you can be -- not an ad for the army

Divrei Chaim: be all that you can be: The gemara (Kesubos 62) relates the famous story of R' Akiva: R' Akiva was a shepherd who worked for Kalba Savu'a. Kalba Savu'a daughter R...
For more on Lag B'Omer see http://www.examiner.com/article/lag-b-omer and
http://www.examiner.com/article/lag-b-omer-cedarhurst

Memory and writing

Torah she ba'al peh was intended to be passed down orally. It was only due to the fear of it being forgotten that it was committed to writing, first only the Mishna and then the Gemara, and then many sifrei halacha that continue to multiply.  


Maria Konnikova looks at the Zeigarnik effect in a blog written for Scientific American,  She explains as the follows:
Psychologist Arie Kruglanski calls this a Need for Closure, a desire of our minds to end states of uncertainty and resolve unfinished business. This need motivates us to work harder, to work better, and to work to completion. It adds impetus to minds that may otherwise be too busy or oversaturated to bother with the details. That wold fit in with the Chazal "ayn simcha kehataras sfekos" There is no happiness like the resolution of uncertainty. The human mind longs for certainty, and the lack of it prevents it from rest, contentment. But that is also what feeds the thrill of the chase and the persistence to acquire th…