Showing posts from January, 2013

Jewish time

This is also posted at, but if you don't wish to be bombarded by the pictures and ads on that site, you can read it here.

In common usage, "Jewish time," like "New York time", indicates the opposite of "sharp" for starting time. However, there really is a different sense of Jewish time orientation that defines our calendar. You have to let go of the assumptions we normally hold in the western world to appreciate them, just like we have to not take it for granted that everyone orients toward the north for direction with east to the right and west to the north.. In Biblical orientation, the forward direction is east, so what is to right is south and what is to the north is left. In the Jewish calendar, we count both days and months. As mentioned in, the first month of the year is Nissan, the start of the spring season and the month in which we cel…

What works in Jewish tradition

Back in 2009, the blog devoted to Rav Aviner ran his take on segula at I can't put it in any better, so here is the text:

[from "Be-Ahavah U-Be-Emunah" – Parashat Shoftim 5769 – translated by R. Blumberg]
People often times turn to Rabbis asking for "segulot" [spiritual aids or shortcuts] to help the sick. Besides going to the doctor, they look for spiritual tricks, recitation of a particular verse, or an amulet, just so there is some change for the better. Unfortunately, they are searching in vain for something that does not exist.

Some will respond: “Who says? My aunt had no children, she used a 'segulah' and now, thank G-d, there are children around her table.” Yet someone else had a childless aunt who used no "segulah," and children were born to her anyway. The fact is that ten percent of barren couples experience spontaneous cures without knowing the cause.

It is impossible to …

Roshei yeshiva-protest desecration of torah-advise...

My thoughts exactly The Partial View: Roshei yeshiva-protest desecration of torah-advise...: letter on shidduchim from RY The major leading Roshei yeshiva in the US issued a sharply worded letter  about recent advertisements in t...
Also see
Rabbanim issue letter- NO Guaranteed segula Rav Avrohom Schorr, rabbi Moshe tuvia Lieff and Rabbi Yisroel Reisman issue letter in this weeks issue of FJJ on inserts and ads in frum papers and magazines promising yeshuos shidduchim and refuos. Despite the letter these ads are posted in all heimish and frum newspapers and magazines.  click on image to enlarge.                                                                                                      
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At what age do Americans marry?

I can't find statistics on frum ages, though from the pressure some girls have on them, one would think the answer is 20 for girls, that is if they can't make it by 19. Single males seem to enjoy a bit more latitude, as no one pressures them at 20, and many only begin to entertain shidduch suggestions at 23. But for the rest of the American population that leaves records with the Census Bureau, the answer depends on the year.

You may be aware that people are marrying older as compared to history stretching back to the middle of the 20th century as graphed in graphed out by

But as the site says, that upward projection doesn't really give the whole story. If you go back further, all the way to 1890, you find that the actual curve of points first goes downward. Back then the median age for a man at first marriage was just over 26 years old. The average bride was four years younger, at 22. At…

A woman learns about dating by posing as a man

I frequently write about big data analytics. While that seems to be far afield from the topics I cover here, they do sometimes intersect, as in discussions of John Gottman's analytics of relationships and dating data. While some people claim good experiences with online dating, others found it a waste of time at best and an invitation to miserable encounters at worst. One woman got so tired of hitting her head against the wall in attempting to find someone through JDate, that she decided to find out what really is going on in those algorithms that claim to match people up harmoniously. To do that, she went undercover as a man -- actually as ten men. In Hacking the Hyperlinked Heart, Amy Webb recounts both her own history with online dating as a woman and what she learned when she set up ten different male profiles and interacted with 96 women in the guise of a man online: While JDate doesn't publicly release its algorithms, at the time of my experiment I observed that the mor…

Online marriage course now available for free

For hilchos taharas hamishpacha and more. It includes options for kallahs, chassons, and married couples  -- even in Spanish. See

Follow me on Twitter @AriellaBrown and circle me at Google+ For wedding tips and insight, as well as recipes and practical advice, visit

When silence is acquiesence

"I have often regretted having spoken, never having kept silent" -Publilius Syrus I saw this quote in my Twitter stream today. Silence is a wonderful thing, and we do respect it in Jewish tradition. However, there are times when silence is cause for regret. That is the lesson of a Midrash about Pharoh’s 3 advisers. This past Shabbos, we read the first parsha in the Book of Shemos [Exodus], which shares the same name. It tells the story of the enslavement of the descendants of the children of Israel. Not content with slavery, the Egyptians moved onto oppression and a form of genocide -- killing all the baby boys. According to the Midrash, it was Bilaam (to be encountered again in the parsha of Balak) who gave the evil advice to kill all the newborn boys. Yithro opposed the idea. He had to flee for his life, but then got to the honor of becoming Moshe’s father-in-law. There was a third, who appeared to be neutral. That was Iyov [ Job] He didn’t promote the evil plan, but he a…

Is it a mountain or a hair?

While I was walking out to fetch a couple more groceries today, I noticed a smudge on my glasses that looked quite large while I was wearing them but really tiny when I took them off. That made me think of the account of the future slaughter of the yetzer hara described in Sukkah 52b. To the righteous, the yetzer hara  appears like a high mountain and to the wicked as thin as a hair. Both cry. The righteous cry, "How could we have surmounted something as great as this?" The wicked cry, "How could we not have overcome something this hair thin thing?" Even the Almighty expresses astonishment.

What occurred to me is the matter of perspective. For example, the sun and the moon both appear to be about the same size, though the sun is so many thousands of times larger, due to their distance from the earth. At a great distance, even a tall mountain can appear to be contained within your fingers, that is, no larger than a coin. But even a speck can look quite substantial w…

Torah thought for World Introvert Day

See Divrei Chaim: inner reserve: the antithesis of shibud: "A person who has no inner compass, who has no sense of self that is reserved and never of display in public, is someone who by definition is beholden to outside fores and influences.  He is a slave to how society defines him, how his job defines him, what others in his community think of him, what the world makes of his existence."

Also see, Some like it Quiet
Follow me on Twitter @AriellaBrown and circle me at Google+ For wedding tips and insight, as well as recipes and practical advice, visit