29 December 2006

Every Great Man Must Fall...

except chas v'shalom, if he is your rav and you put him on the proverbial pedestal.

As I might said before, I was not m'kareved by any particular rabbi or kiruv group. I just chose to be frum and did a TON of studying. In some ways, it has been extra "footwork" for us. We still go to the rabbi from the egalitarian minyan for ethical and family conflict issues because we are close to him. For "other" types of shailahs (kashrut, tahorat ha-mishpachah, etc.), we go to the congregational rabbi. The system has its disadvantages such as not having a "rav" to look up to for guidance in our lives. On the other hand...

I just deleted this long complicated story about someone I know who has started to become disillusioned by the frum lifestyle he chose ten years ago. It was essentially going nowhere. Let me give the kitzur.

I think one of the leading causes of people falling off the derekh are delusions. The idea that life will be "better" by becoming frum? It is more expensive (kosher food/living in the "right" neighborhood because all the shuls are in wealthier areas/day schools/having a good job where you have vacation time banked for chagim) but you have to see the rewards. My children are getting more stability than I did growing up. One parent, Mom, did not let me eat bacon but Dad took us out for it anyway. At least cyp and I are not conflicted about our home.

Where I consider myself blessed is I have always people for what they are and have not (for the most part) put high expectations on those who "seem" more holy than me. I accept rabbis with all their flaws. They are people too. They might not give the best advice for that person (like sending someone off to "their" yeshiva, but that is someone else's story to tell; you know who you are) but it is up to you think through whether this advice would work for you.

When it comes to matters of halakhah, I will defer to my rabbi. If I am in complete agreement with it, I might even have a debate with him to have it made clear. However, I have no intention of putting any of them up on that pedestal, for fear that they might lose their human status, fall and shatter.

24 December 2006

Meme from Chana (aka Jewess with Horns)

Read the ones in purple for commentary. The ones in black are "no".

01. Bought everyone in the bar a drink.
02. Swam with wild dolphins.
03. Climbed a mountain. [Like Chana, lots of times in a car. On foot? What is considered the minimum height for a mountain? I've done some small cliffs.]
04. Taken a Ferrari for a test drive.
05. Been inside the Great Pyramid.
06. Held a tarantula.
07. Taken a candlelit bath with someone. [Classified!]
08. Said "I love you" and meant it [I married him.]
09. Hugged a tree. [And proud to say that cool yiddishe maidel hugs a lot of the trees on the walk to shul.]
10. Bungee-jumped.
11. Visited Paris.
12. Watched a lightening storm at sea.
13. Stayed up all night and saw the sun rise [on a lake with cool yiddishe papa]14. Seen the Northern Lights.
15. Gone to a huge sports game. [Name it, I've been there--baseball, basketball, football, hockey.]
16. Walked the stairs to the top of the leaning Tower of Pisa. [No, but would like to try the Washington Monument the next time I'm in DC.]
17. Grown and eaten your own vegetables. [We had a garden in my backyard. Every summer, when I was a kid, we grew something. My mother has kept it going, I have yet to.]
18. Touched an iceberg.
19. Slept under the stars. [The night of a huge black out when I was 16 at my friend's house. Her AC had conked out.]
20. Changed a baby's diaper. [I have two children, babysat, and worked at a day care. What do you think?!]
21. Taken a trip in a hot air balloon.
22. Watched a meteor shower.
23. Gotten drunk on champagne. [Due to our complusive habit to finish a bottle of wine in one sitting, of course.]
24. Given more than you can afford to charity. [Does day school tuition count?]
25. Looked up at the night sky with a telescope.
26. Had an uncontrollable giggling fit. [Pick the poison...alcohol (see #23), etc.]
27. Had a food fight.
28. Bet on a winning horse. [My one time I went to the race track and actually walked out with more than I walked in with.]
29. Asked out a stranger. [A teen dance club when I was 16. We traded numbers but never actually went out.]
30. Had a snowball fight. [With sibs and friends as a kid.]
31. Screamed as loudly as you possibly can. [It was a great tool for letting out frustrations...highly recommend it.]
32. Held a lamb.
33. Seen a total eclipse of the Moon.
34. Ridden a roller coaster. [That was part of cym's life, BC (Before Children). I won't see inside another amusement park until the maidels are old/big enough to go on the coaster with me.]
35. Hit a home run.
36. Danced like a fool. [Actually, I'm pretty coordinated.]
37. Adopted an accent for an entire day. [Would like to try.]
38. Actually felt happy about your life, even just for a moment. [Each time I held my babies, for the first time.]
39. Had two hard drives for your computer. [Not sure, but a good question for cyp, my in-house tech support.]
40. Visited all 50 states.
41. Taken care of someone who was drunk. [Does yourself count?]
42. Had amazing friends. [All my friends are amazing in their own ways.]
43. Danced with a stranger in a foreign country. [Kabbalat Shabbat at a Carlebach minyan in Tzfat.]
44. Watched wild whales.
45. Stolen a sign.
46. Backpacked in Europe.
47. Taken a road trip. [My buddy, MM, and I used to fashion ourselves "Thelma and Louise" without the guns in my pre-children days.]
48. Gone rock climbing.
49. Midnight walk on the beach. [Same beach where we saw the sun rise.]
50. Gone sky diving.
51. Visited Ireland.
52. Been heartbroken longer than you were actually in love.
53. In a restaurant, sat at a stranger's table and had a meal with them. [Does running into Chana one day in a restaurant count?]
54. Visited Japan.
55. Milked a cow. [At a local FarmPark to show cool yiddishe maidel that cows were not scary.]
56. Alphabetized your CDs. [As a teenager, when I only had 15, it was easy. Not since then.]
57. Pretended to be a Superhero? [I'm with Chana. Every mom is a superhero. That's how we get so much done...]
58. Sung karaoke. [Sister-in-law's wedding reception. Sang D-I-V-O-R-C-E to show my approval of the guy she married. Marriage ended four years later.]
59. Lounged around in bed all day. [Doing it today...told cyp that I am taking a "mental health" day.]
60. Played touch football.
61. Gone scuba diving.
62. Kissed in the rain. [In the car.]
63. Played in the mud.
64. Played in the rain.
65. Gone to a Drive-In Theatre. [Twice, would like to take kids once before all of them around here are gone.]
66. Visited the Great Wall of China.
67. Started a business. [Tried to with a friend. Currently on the "back burner".]
68. Fallen in love. [Married! Remember!]
69. Toured ancient sites. [In Israel: Old City, City of David, some "dig", Beit She'an, etc.]
70. Taken a martial arts class.
71. Played D&D for more than 6 hours straight. [No, but think cyp might have before meeting me.]
72. Gotten married. [Duh!]
73. Been in a movie.
74. Crashed a party.
75. Gotten divorced. [Chas v'shalom!]
76. Gone without food for 5 days.
77. Made cookies from scratch. [All the time, we only use whole wheat products in our house.]
78. Won first prize in a costume contest.
79. Ridden a gondola in Venice.
80. Gotten a tattoo. [Just henna.]
81. Rafted the Snake River.
82. Been on television news programs as an "expert".
83. Got flowers for no reason. [Husband feeling guilty does not count, right?]
84. Performed on stage. [Choir and orchestra in elementary and middle school. Does my Bat Mitzvah count?]
85. Been to Las Vegas.
86. Recorded music.
87. Eaten shark. [Before I started keeping kosher.]
88. Kissed on the first date. [On the first "official" date for cyp and I.]
89. Gone to Thailand.
90. Bought a home. [And now, trying to sell.]
91. Been in a combat zone. [Just when my family gets together...]
92. Buried one/both of your parents. [Father, when I was 25 and he just turned 59. Cool yiddishe maidel was 10 weeks old. He died of colon cancer.]
93. Been on a cruise ship.
94. Spoken more than one language fluently. [Hebrew, I am moderately fluent in, but it has fallen by the wayside because Israelis prefer to speak to me in English.]
95. Performed in Rocky Horror.
96. Raised children. [The maidels keep me busy...]
97. Followed your favorite band/singer on tour.
What happened to 98?[Cool yiddishe mama adds, "Wrote a book". Answer: In the process of 2-3, both fiction and non-fiction.]
99. Taken an exotic bicycle tour in a foreign country.
100. Picked up and moved to another city just to start over. [No, but cyp has threatened it a few times.]
101. Walked the Golden Gate Bridge.
102. Sang loudly in the car, and didn't stop when you knew someone was looking. [All the time!]
103. Had plastic surgery.
104. Survived an accident that you shouldn't have survived.
105. Wrote articles for a large publication. [Won a national Hebrew language essay contest and got published in the organization's magazine.]
106. Lost over 100 pounds. [At once or in my lifetime?]
107. Held someone while they were having a flashback.
108. Piloted an airplane.
109. Touched a stingray.
110. Broken someone’s heart. [Someone who was interested in me when I was engaged, I think I let him down gently.]
111. Helped an animal give birth. [My cat, Maizie, when I was 15 would not give birth to her first litter of kittens until I came home from school.]
112. Won money on a T.V. game show.
113. Broken a bone.
114. Gone on an African photo safari.
115. Had a facial part pierced other than your ears.
116. Fired a rifle, shotgun, or pistol.
118. Ridden a horse. [Somewhere in my memory, I know I did.]
119. Had major surgery. [Two c-sections.]
120. Had a snake as a pet.
121. Hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon.
122. Slept for more than 30 hours over the course of 48 hours. [I wish...lucky to have 18 hours over six days sometimes.]
123. Visited more foreign countries than U.S. states.
124. Visited all 7 continents.
125. Taken a canoe trip that lasted more than 2 days.
126. Eaten kangaroo meat.
127. Eaten sushi. [I stick to vegetarian and California rolls, still counts, Chana.]
128. Had your picture in the newspaper [For winning that essay contest...local Jewish press. Cool yiddishe maidel was in the local papers twice in six months, just for being cute.]
129. Changed someone's mind about something you care deeply about. [Years ago, a student of mine was ready to drop out of Hebrew school, but I convinced him to go on to Bar Mitzvah. Afterwards, he stayed on to graduate and was a day camp counselor for the synagogue. He remains active Jewishly, according to the last report.]
130. Gone back to school. [Part of my requirements as a teacher to do CEUs every year.]
131. Parasailed.
132. Touched a cockroach.
133. Eaten Fried Green Tomatoes. [Grandma was a Jew from the South. What do you think? I even know how make kosher versions of greens with smoked turkey and cornbread.]
134. Read the Iliad and the Odyssey. [Just excerpts in high school.]
135. Selected one "important author" who you missed in high school and read. [I read Dorothy Parker over the summer and was somewhat impressed more with her life than her work.]
136. Killed and prepared an animal for eating.
137. Skipped all your school reunions.
138. Communicated with someone without sharing a common spoken language.
139. Been elected to public office.
140. Written your own computer language.
141. Thought to yourself that you're living your dream. [Some parts, yes; others, no.]
142. Had to put someone you love into hospice care. [Putting Dad in was his wife's decision.]
143. Built your own PC from parts. [CYP did it several times.]
144. Sold your own artwork to someone who didn't know you.
145. Had a booth at a street fair. [Helped Mom with her Sears charge booth promos at festivals when I was a teenager. Just had a booth for my weight-loss booth at a recent health fair. Might hook up with Mom again next year for some craft fairs. She wants me to make gift baskets and she will market them.]
146. Dyed your hair. [At least 20 times. The last time was when I was pregnant with "light of my life". I colored my hair even though I was the only one who saw it. A friend of mine and I plan on doing blue or purple soon.]
147. Been a DJ.
148. Shaved your head [Had a "fade" done to the bottom of my hair when I was 17. We were playing Truth or Dare. I wouldn't tell the truth about this guy and me, and I wouldn't kiss the guy in the group, so the alternative was to let them shave the back of my head.]
149. Caused a car accident. [I've had three car accidents that were my fault since I started driving in 1994. The rest were "the other guy's" fault.
150. Saved someone's life. [Just from themselves.]

I tag...outoftown and sephardi lady.

On Hair Care and Peeking Rabbis...

A couple weeks ago, I was sheitel-shopping with "Dina", a friend of mine who, several months ago, completed her Orthodox conversion. We've known each other since my days in the egalitarian minyan that we have since both outgrown.

We had discussed the topic of hair-covering on several occasions. I have always relied comfortably on my "tefach" rule, even when wearing a fall, hat or tichel. She informed me that the rabbi with whom she was completing the conversion under told her that it was only a "leniency" and to not fall into our "community" standards (meaning the school that our mutual children attend as opposed to the Orthodox community as a whole). In fact, she was "not permitted" to follow that leniency. She had not completed the conversion yet and I suggested that she refer the issue to the rabbi of the congregation that they plan on joining since that will be "their community".

Back to the sheitel...she's had difficulty with the idea of covering hair with more hair. She understands hats and even scarves. They show that hair is covered. She was also put off by the high cost of this "preferred" hair covering of Rabbi N. (Hats are problematic because some hair can still show by the earlobes.) She admired the fall that I was wearing to her house on a recent Shabbat and asked where I bought it. When I admitted to skipping the sheitel machers in favor of wig stores, she was interested. I got this idea from my friend "Shoshana". She never pays than $40 for a sheitel. She figures that she can wash most synthetics in her sink and when the hair falls out, just buy a new one. [If enough would do this, it would collaspe the sheitel macher trade...]

We went to the store that I like to go to and she selected a few to try on. She found one that had an interesting coloring, in fact the "roots" matched her own hair, which showed a little bit on the other side of the hairband. She said the Rabbi N would not approve of it because 1) her hair is showing and 2) it's longer than shoulder length, by 2 inches. It was not, by any definition, a "Hot Chanie" look. She's over 40 and quite comfortable about it. [Happy note...she bought it anyway.]

I left the store very bothered. First of all, why is this rabbi spending so much time worrying about her "tefach"? Should he be paying attention to another woman's hair? I felt that he should only concern himself with his wife's tefach. CYP and I have taken to calling him "Rabbi Tapemeasure". It's creepy to think that someone would be looking at me trying to decide how much is my own hair and how much is the sheitel.

Tznuit is not the root of our problems today. However, this is not what is taught in charedi schools. A tour of the yeshivish school that has not (yet) banned TV and Internet as a "rule" two years ago showed a large display of paper-cut silouettes of girls. Inside each one, there was some snippets about being a good "bas yisroel". These "gems" included requirements about black knee socks, no pants, and long sleeves. What about good middot?

Actually, I think our problem today is worrying too much about tznuit and fearing that hair falling from the sheitel could only mean that cleavage is not so far behind.
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