Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Expense/Gift/Dowry--Which is It?

Orthonomics has an interesting report up of new wedding takanos posted in Israel. http://orthonomics.blogspot.com/ The idea is that the rabbonim involved want to reduce the cost of weddings and all the associated other parties and gifts. As SL points out, reducing the costs is one thing, but if you don't have the money for even the reduced costs, you are talking about debt financing, not a good idea under most circumstances, but certainly not for what is in essence a multi-day party.

One of my first postings was about gifts associated with marriage back when I was dating. http://conversationsinklal.blogspot.com/2007/09/on-being-gifted-klal-style-years-ago-i.html#comments

A comment made by bad4shidduchim on that posting has some relevance here. She said: " But when the gifts get perfunctory "what do we have to get" "what do they have to get", then it's just stupid. It's not a gift, it's a dowry. So why pretend? " Notice the use of the word "dowry." No one can pretend that dowries are some newfangled invention--our Jewish writings are full of talk about dowries--who gave what to whom and when. And no, all those dowries were not identical.

So, are all the expenses that people seem to think are "must haves" for a wedding a question of gifting or are they components of a dowry? And should a dowry, if that is what it is, be the same amount for every person getting married, or should that dowry depend on actual cash available? That is, why are all brides and grooms being treated in an identical way regards giving when it is clear to the whole world that not every bride and groom and their families have the same amount of money? Personally, if a family has the money without going into debt to buy X for a groom or bride, then let them buy to their heart's content. What I object to is having gift requirements for everyone that are basically the same, even if limits are being placed on the costs for those gifts.

Way too much of keeping up with the Rothschilds in our present attitudes towards gifts/dowries. Last I looked, most people could discern the difference between the Rothschilds and themselves, and non-Rothschilds weren't expected to live the same way as the Rothschilds did; they, themselves, did not expect it, nor did society expect it of them. It seems to me that the whole slew of wedding takanos out there are not taking into consideration that there are plenty of people out there who are not Rothschilds, nor likely to be. Instead of these takanos perhaps what is needed is for the rabbanim to come out with the blunt truth: if you're truly wealthy, do pretty much what you want, and if you're not wealthy, if you don't have the cash available, then do less, lots and lots less. There should be almost no requirements about weddings, with perhaps the exception of some type of wedding band for the bride.

What say you?

Monday, January 30, 2012

Weather It

It's become a truism in every college that I've ever taught at that on days I am teaching it is either going to rain, snow, ice over, have wind gusts in the 40+ per hour range etc. I was afraid to look at the weather forecast for this week, but a colleague called just now to let me know that my reputation is going to stand this week. Sigh. Monday night expected snow showers and Wednesday night rain.

The news people could save themselves a bundle in hiring weather forecasters for their shows. All they need to do is find out my teaching schedule and the forecasts are set. Gives new meaning to weathering the storm.

Enjoy the sun today while you can. And for those worried about tomorrow, I don't teach tomorrow and the weather will be in the mid to high 50s.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

I'm Back, I Think

The last few months have been hectic to say the least. Thankfully, our ill family members are on the road to recovery, although it's a long road and a sometimes bumpy one. Somehow we all made it through. Here I am facing the beginning of a new term again. Hopefully this new beginning will apply across the board, and I hope to find time for the things I like to do, not just the things I have to do, the blog being one of those things I hope to be more regular with.

So, let me begin. What would January be without my mentioning those dreaded "P" words--Purim and Pesach. Yup, with January ending we're well on the road to preparing for yom tov once again. And once again I'm suggesting that now would be a good time to use your computers to your benefit and get yourself organized ahead of time. No reason to wait to the very last second to make up and save a list of those to whom you are going to be giving shalach monos. If you will be making the Purim seudah, now is a great time to create your menu and shopping lists.

As for Pesach, what could be better than a January Sunday to get the whole family into the closet cleaning mode? Yup, kind of scary to see what has hidden in those deep, dark recesses in the back of the closets. Now is a great time to cull the old clothing and donate it. Now is also a great time to finally decide to throw out or donate some of those strange items we somehow keep and have no idea of when or if we will ever use them.

Yes, I'm practicing what I'm preaching. Today I tackle the linen closets. I think I've finally talked myself out of being sentimental about sheets that are older than my kids are. My treat for my anniversary is to finally replace the bed linens--there are still comforter covers and sheets that joined my family when I got married almost 40 years ago. I have a feeling that I'm not the only one with "antiques" lurking in the linen closet.

Whatever you choose to tackle today, comfort yourself with the idea that it will be one less thing to "have" to do much closer to yom tov.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Heaven Forfend that it should come to this!

The following was sent to me via email, with no author (or no real author) listed. Yup, there's some humor in it, but a lot more of irony. In so many places and in so many ways parts of Klal are heading in this direction.

It has come to the attention of the Flatbush Vaad Ha Tznius that the Rockland Kosher Supermarket located in Monsey , NY has instituted a policy of covering up the picture of the girl on bottles of Downy fabric softener before putting these containers on their shelves. See http://tinyurl.com/8xg7joq It is not known what this supermarket does with products manufactured by Aunt Jemima and Betty Crocker. Nonetheless, the Flatbush Vaad Ha Tznius is not about to be outdone by Monsey. Therefore it has issued the following guidelines regarding laundry.

It has come to our attention that many families, including those who pride themselves on following all aspects of halacha, are regularly not conforming to proper Tznius guidelines. Unbelievably, many, many families are washing men's and women's clothing together at the same time in the same washing machine. This is an unprecedented breach of Tznius.!!! How could anyone think that one is allowed to wash men's and women's undergarments at the same time in the same washing load?!!! What has our nation come to when people have fallen to such a low level? For shame!!! This practice must stop!!!!Given this we are issuing the following guidelines regarding the doing of laundry.!.

Ideally each observant home should have two washing machines and two dryers - one washing machine and one dryer should be used exclusively for men's clothing and the other washing machine and dryer should be used exclusively for women's clothing.

2. In the event that a family cannot afford to have two washing machines and two dryers, the following rules should be adhered to:
a. Under no circumstances should men's cloths be washed in the same machine as women's clothing at the same time. They should, of course, also be dried separately.

b. After doing a load of men's clothing, one should run the washing machine through a complete cycle without any cloths in it using hot water. Then one may wash women's clothing in this machine. The same procedure should, of course, be followed after washing a load of women's clothing, namely, run a complete cycle using hot water without any cloths in the machine. Then one may wash men's clothing in the machine.

c. After drying a load of men's clothing the dryer should be allowed to cool off completely. After this, one may use the dryer for drying women's cloths. The same applies after drying a load of women's clothing before using the dryer for men's clothing. It is not enough to let the dryer cool below Yad So Ledas Bo. The dryer must be completely cooled off.

Our forefathers lived in a land that was between two rivers - the Tigris and the Euphrates . The reason is obvious to anyone who thinks into it a bit. One river was used to wash women's clothing and the other to wash men's clothing. Surely we can continue this tradition by observing the rules stated above.We are confident that everyone who takes Yahadus seriously will abide by the guidelines stated above.

With Torah greetings,
Names withheld by request due to concern that our wives will stop doing our laundry.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Paper Does Not a Marriage Make

I've often maintained that if my husband and I had had to date under the rules in place today, there is no way that we would have been fixed up, never mind actually be married to each other. My friends agree with me, but one said there was no way to prove the truth of this statement with the kind of proof that would be needed to make a dent in the shidduch problems we see today.

Well, I sort of found a way to prove my statement. I decided to fill out one of those convoluted shidduch questionnaires, giving the info that was applicable when I was dating. I also filled one out for my husband, again giving the info that was applicable when he was dating. Then I spoke to three people I know who are active in shidduchim, giving them the info without the names attached, and asking them what kind of a person I should be looking out for for the man and the woman of the questionnaires, or could I redt the two to each other?

In all three cases, none of the shadchanim would even consider the "man" and the "woman" of the questionnaires as being a good match. They admitted that there were some points that were congruent, but not enough of them and not in the areas where it counts today. They pointed out that there were too many gray areas in the hashkafic sector, where the man and the woman wrote that they would be amenable to whatever their spouse wanted but had no definite immutable preferences for themselves. The man and woman did not agree on paper as to where their ideal place to live would be. Personality traits were quite markedly different, as were most of the items listed under favorite activities for leisure time. The shadchanim admitted that there were a few points that meshed well, but not enough of them for the shadchanim to waste their time in trying to redt these two to each other.

I should point out that on none of the questionnaires I viewed were people asked to fill out how well they did at compromising, when, where and under what circumstances. None of the questionnaires asked about the commitment of the person or about their work ethic in achieving a goal. None of them asked the people filling them out to define what the important traits for a spouse are.

So there I had it in black and white--hubby and I were not, under today's "guidelines," a good match for marriage, and shadchanim thought it would be a waste of their time to redt us to each other. Fortunately, we met in other times and without having to fill out a single piece of paper other than our marriage licence. Fortunate, because next month we celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary. And doubly fortunate that we believed that the Riboneh Shel Olam was mezaveg zevugim, and He didn't require us to fill out a questionnaire.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Let's Use Drugs

The following was sent to me via email. Sorry, I don't know who to credit as author, but I thank them heartily. Note: update--author information in the comments below.

FDA approves new drug for the annoyingly religious

BROOKLYN, NEW YORK - The first ever prescription heretic drug hit the shelves today. Approved by the FDA last month, Apikorex is intended as a treatment for the approximately one million Jews who are insufferably religious. Tests prove that the drug is effective at reducing a range of symptoms, from having a heart attack when discovering a woman within a five mile radius is wearing stockings whose thickness is insufficient and shouting
"You'll burn in Gehenom for that," to excessive demands of glatt kosher meals after being imprisoned for molesting children.

Dr. Yeruchem Genukshoyn calls the drug a huge step forward in the battle against uber-religiousness. "If you're in a religious mood every so often," he says, "that's good, that's normal. This is for those who have a persistent makpid-checking outlook on life."

Chava Frumstein of Kiryas Joel began participating in a clinical trial of Apikorex six weeks ago. "I was always telling people to cover their ankles," she says, "Telling them their wrists were exposed. And that was just the men." Chava says she never knew how her annoyingly religious attitude was affecting those around her. "Over and over I'd ask my husband to check and check, recheck, and rerecheck the vegetables for bugs, no matter how many times he said no," says Chava. "She was always going on about those damn bugs," says her henpecked husband, Molech, "I didn't know if there was anything I could do to help her." "I used to think," Chava prattles on, "why am I the only one who cares how far away the water was that was used to bake matzah? Now I realize I was sick, I needed treatment."

Chava says the drug may have saved her marriage. "Now," whines Chava, "Molech and I can sit on the couch and not talk to each other, just because it's wonderful to be able to do that." Dr. Genukshoyn adds, "We have to erase the stigma attached with getting help to psychotically religious Jews. Real medical help. You know what it's like to be around these people? It's pretty [expletive] annoying."

Doctors estimate that Apikorex could reduce by about 40% the amount of money funneled from fathers-in-law to children who refuse to work because Moshiach is coming and we need to be prepared with as much Torah as possible.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Kosher Cheese Recall

Recall of shredded cheese made by Millers and Haolam

It's the shredded cheddar, mozzarella and pizza cheese with expiration dates of Jun 5, 2012 through Sept. 4, 2012. It's being recalled because of listeria contamination.

You can check the lot numbers at 888-980-8804

You can return it to your retailer for a refund.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year

Here it is 2012 and I'm still trying to figure out where a lot of 2011 went to. But, just as each new day brings new possibilities with it, so does the advent of a new calendar year. Here's hoping that 2012 will be a good year, one filled with health, wealth and contentment. And to borrow from a classic poem, here's hoping that "joy will ring in Mudville" and that Mighty Casey won't strike out. Whatever you want for this new year, I hope that you get it and enjoy it.