Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Everything looks like a nail when you're a hammer

Everything looks like a nail when you're a hammer is the reaction I had to  It's Not About The Nail 

making the rounds on social media. I notice that most of the people sharing appear to be males, as they find it perfectly expresses their frustration of wishing to solve an easily solvable problem when their female significant others prefer to talk in nebulous terms about the effects of the problem and turn aside any suggestions for a solution.

What the video doesn't get that in real life, most problems are not nails that can easily be removed with no problem. In fact, many difficulties have no simple solutions at all and require an approach to deal with that. And trying to reduce everything to a situation that will be solved as easily as removing a nail is not going to help when empathy will.Yes, I do get it. And I'm sure it appeals to the "Men are from Mars/ Women from Venus" fans who like everything put into simple terms of gender division. Seehttp://www.psychotherapy.net/article/gottman-and-gray#section- a-tale-of-two-relationship-gurus
Those who really want to discover what women want, read up on your Dr. John Gottman. You can start with Why Marriages Succeed or Fail by John Gottman, PhD with Nan Silver (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1994)
That brings us to the phenomenon that always astounds well-meaning men. When a husband offers a solution to a problem his wife complains about, why does she get upset with him? Dr. Gottman explains that the wives are seeking "validation" and so find their husbands’ "hyperrational" reaction to their feelings distancing. "Rather than acknowledge the emotional content of their wife’s words, they try to offer a practical solution to the problem being described." The fact is that they are not interested in "hearing advice" at this point; they only wish to be heard and have their feelings acknowledged. What the listener is supposed to do, in that case, is use his imagination to picture himself in his wife’s "emotional" situation. His response should convey that he comprehends her “feelings and consider them valid” (159). Responding with empathy is not humoring someone unreasonable just to avoid an argument but crossing beyond one’s own emotional boundaries to appreciate the experience of another.
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Thursday, May 23, 2013

The mezuzah app

Further proof that smarter phones lead to ... well, people who feel they don't need to actually learn stuff for themselves. And now, we bring you a mezuzah app: http://www.jewishicommunity.com/news/new-free-app-revolutionizes-mezuzah-placement. First off, I'm sure they mean well, and they really deserve credit for stressing a kosher mezuzah. So many people think "it's the thought that counts" rather than the klaf.  I wonder if they also point out that the concept that you can live in your permanent home for 30 days before affixing the mezuzah is a distortion of the halachic definitions.

However, really, how complicated is all this? You just have to know to:
 1) buy a kosher mezuah
2) pick out a cover that fits it and appeals to your taste
3) hang it up on the right side of the doorpost  in the bottom of the top third at a slight angle toward the room entered by the door. You really don't need a measuring tape or a level or even a protractor to figure this out. Eyeballed estimates are fine.
This is not rocket science, folks!


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Sunday, May 05, 2013

Recipes posted

Easy dairy dishes, including a crustless cheesecake that's perfect for Shavuout are now up at http://kallahmagazine.weebly.com/whats-cooking.html


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Thursday, May 02, 2013

The physical and metaphyical


Recently, I commented on a misinterpretation of the saying of Chazal recorded on p. 31 of Tractate Niddah  isha mazria techila yoledes zachar. The conception of a boy is attributed to the female in this case. While some like to point to this as "proof" that Chazal were ch"v wrong about biological function, in truth Chazal's understanding of conception encompasses the biological and the metaphyscial.

See p. 23 of Eyt Dodim the paperbound supplement to Rav Elyashiv Knohl's Ish V'Isha reviewed here. The gist of it is that the mazria does not refer to ovulation, but to the si-- to use the Hebrew term. (Hamevin yavin, as we say.)  As it says in other parts of the same page of that Talmud, this is offered as advice to men who wish to have sons.  Rabbi Knohl explains, Chazal were not offering this as a biological  fact but as a "amira musarit" for the man who would be concerned about his wife and not just himself  will merit that the Holy One Blessed be He will consider the man's desires and grant him a son, which appears in many places as the example of the prime desire of man.  R' Knohl offers as proof of his point that Niddah 71 says, Mai schar pri habeten? ... Bischar shemashhin atzman babeten kedey shetazria ishto techila nothen lo Hakadosh Barush Hu schar pri habeten. So it is explicit that this is a schar  - a reward - from Hasham, and not a law of nature.

On to the philosophical point that the Meshech Chachma makes on Parshas Kedoshim: Bizman sheisha mazras techila yoledet zachar (Nidda 31a) vezeh "shiru laHashem shir chadash" (Yeshayahu 42:10) shir zachar, vehadvarim amukim.  When a woman give forth first, she gives birth to a male child, and this refers to the verse, "Sing to G-d a new song."  The word for song here is masculine, and the matter is a deep one.  Rabbi Copperman's edition offers this footnote: the intentions her is to teach that when the actions begins from below (as connoted by female) it will render the completion from the source of holiness above (the male).

The mater is a deep one, which touches on a number of points about spiritual redemption. The feminine form, shira is what we experienced in the redemption from Egypt, and in the future, we will have a stronger form of redemption, which is connoted in the masculine form of shir. The difference is that when the female, which represents the Jewish people, will act first -- awakening from below -- then the completion will come from above in a stronger form than when the first move has to come from above to stir the Jewish people into a response.



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The essence versus the details

I was struck by this thought this morning when I read some comments about organizations that confuse their mission statement with various values or goals. A mission statement is meant to be a short, definitive statement, not a bucket list. And that reminded me of what Hillel said is our mission statement.

I do try to avoid repeating myself, but since the last post I wrote about this topic appeared over a year ago, I will repeat here:

All you need is ...

All you need is love, and maybe not even that

I got the link to this in my Twitter feed:
John Lennon’s hierarchy of needs is so much simpler than Maslow’s. No wonder Lennon was so popular.
Needs

Practically speaking, of course you can't live on love alone. But from the point of view of simplicity and focus, there actually is something to reducing all to one guiding principle. That is exactly what Hillel did in response to the person who demanded that he teach him all of Torah while the listener stood on one foot. Hillel's answer (which is sometimes misquoted as that of the principle that R' Akiva's  klal gadol baTorah "veahavta lereacha kamocha" [Love your neighbor as yourself]) was "What is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor. The rest is commentary; go learn it."  So we do have a single guiding principle on which we peg the infinite wisdom of the Torah -- that you not do to another what you don't want done to yourself, even if you haven't yet achieved the level of true ahava [love] for another. Interesting that there are songs of "veahavta lereacha kamocha," but none with the words of Hillel, though, admittedly, they don't have the same rhythm.

*Note added on May 8th: In this week's shir, Rav Goldwicht referred to that Gemara and provided another insight into the connection of the standing on one leg and Hilllel's formulation. He said that his point was that one leg cannot stand alone; it needs the support of another to go forward. Likewise, one Jew does not stand alone (we are not islands) but is inherently connected to his fellow. Consequently, he must treat the other as he would himself, or his own second leg.

Related post: http://kallahmagazine.blogspot.com/2008/03/rabbi-akiva-said-of-himself-that-before.html
http://kallahmagazine.blogspot.com/2008/05/quality-of-infinity-and-pardes.html 


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