Sunday, January 23, 2005

Where Are You Going for Pesach?

A great man once said, "What one does not understand, one does not possess." You all probably heard that one a milliomn times, but somehow it got past me until last week. That got me thinking. I cannot, no matter how hard I try, understand materialism. So, yay! According to this guy, I don't possess it. (To a great extreme anyway.)

I recently came across numeous ads for hotels for Pesach. (Came across= was completely unable to avoid.) I was overwhelmed by what these establishments boasted. Needless to say, not in a good way.

Marble floors...jacuzzi...state of the art everything...blah, blah, blah.

Once in a while, some of them remembered this is a Jewish holiday, not just some vacation days where people inexplicably eat matza. Those few ads mentioned a fully stocked Bais Medrash, and Daf Yomi, and all that. That's a small step up, I guess.

We received a flier in the mail with the prices for a few hotels. The cheapest one I saw was $1,995 per person, for 10 days. But those were in New York. The next one was about $2,600 per person. Don't forget, they charge 25% for tax and tip at the hotel. Plus airfare, because , helloo- stay in New York? What will I tell my friends???

Also, if you want to go to a hotel for a holiday, why choose Pesach? That is the holiday where every little detail makes the world of the difference in terms of the food and how things are prepared in the kitchen. How could people trust huge establishments, especially ones that are not usually Kosher the other 355 days of the year, with something that challenges even the frum people in their own kitchens? It's frightening how many mistakes are made simply on Shabbos during the year, but combine that with Shabbos, Yom Tov, and Pesach...despite the fact that there is a Rav there, something screwy is bound to go on.

Also, spending that astrinomical amount of money on something so self-serving is beyond me. Give it to your local Kollel family. (I know that many people don't like to give to kollels, because you end up paying some lazy yokel to sit outside and smoke, while soaking up the money intended for the sincere guys "shtaiging away.") Your local kollel guy needs it more than Paris Hilton does. He needs to feed his children. He needs to clothe them. His hardworking wife deserves a break. Maybe she can use that money for some help around the house, or the pair of shoes she hasn't replaced in 3 years.

What about the poor families in Israel that scrape together every small bit of food they can get just not to die of hunger? They serve yogurt on Shabbos because that is simply what they can afford. How can people spend so much money on marble floors and jacuzzis when people can't serve their families chicken for Shabbos?

It also makes me crazy is that it has become a norm. People do it every year, and assume everyone else does, too. Not like it's a treat, or something that's special. It's like, "Where are you going for Pesach?" When you tell them you're staying home, it's like, "Oh, you, and the trees. Great. See ya!" and then they turn around and say, "OMG, can't talk to HER anymore..." They simply don't appreciate the luxury of spending some people's annual income on 10 days.

I am fair, though. I think that if people match the cost of the hotel and airfare for pesach, and give that to tzedaka, Bon Voyage. Let the kitchen issues be on YOUR conscience.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Where Has Derech Eretz Gone?

I am seriously so fed up with this lack of derech eretz. Teachers espeically bear the brunt of these spoiled children who never learn repsect. Most children nowadays do not learn repsect because they are raised my maids. These maids care about one thing: Their job security. They want their money. So they won't teach the kids anything. They'll spoil them rotten because they know as soon as Mommy hears her kid cryin, she'll fire the woman. So basically, we are left selfish, bratty kids.

This is obvious at many kiddushim. Here, the parents are actually there with their children. They display their own selfish behavior when they seat their 3 precious children in chairs that were set up for adults. So the adults have to manage their kugel, cholent, cake, and diet coke in their two hands, while these people seat their 5 year olds with a slice of turkey. That's not even the point. These parents realize that if they feed their children now, they're off the hook for a while. "Who cares about the adults? My child has to eat so I can pass him on to my maid sooner." These kids are taught that they come before anyone else. They're too young to notice what's wrong with what their doing. Their parents are too selfish to know. So they end up like these kids: (though the above is more extreme than the next story)

I was visiting a high school recently, and walked into the office to find a student in the secratary's chair. I was appalled. I asked, "What are you doing sitting there?" with a confused look on my face. "What are you talking about? I live in this chair!" She responded casually. "Well, that's totally inappropriate and I don't approve," I informed her.

Then, during the break, all the girls came swarming in, and helped themselves to whatever they pleased. They opened drawers, made photocopes, and phone calls. This was beyond me. Yes me. The BUM who watches TV and listens to goyishe music...would never ever consider doing anything remotely similar to that. That whole TV thing is just a friendly reminder of how badly I was treated because of it, yet I would never do things like that, like their beloved fakers. I mean, frummies.

Okay, my point is: Where has Derech Eretz gone?

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Weeding Out the Bad Seeds

My father told me about a jewish radio show he was listening to. He said they asked all the right questions, like supporting in kollel, (which is a huge one that takes more work than your average post) and the question about Yeshivos being selective.

I'll put it simply.

The parents of the bad kids want etheir kids to receive the love and care that they need to straighten out. They also hope that if they are surrounded by the good kids, they'll be influenced by them.

The parents of the good kids are afraid that their kids will be influenced by the bad kids.

So we have all these Yeshivos for the screwed up kids. That doesn't work because the bad kids all end up influencing each other, and unfortunately, the administration there is not always powerful enough to combat the drugs and all that bad stuff that goes on. There are no good kids to help out the bad ones. Then again, there are no good kids being screwed up by the bad ones.

Solution, anyone?

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Family Seating at Concerts

Now, I have a little trouble with this one, because I see both sides equally. Maybe y'all can help me out with this one.

When I was younger, my family and I used to go to these Miami Boys Choir concerts, and I'd sit with my parents and brothers. It was nice. We all bonded. My friend was telling me, though, at a concert she wanted to attend with her husband, they were not allowed to sit together. They had to be separate. That's when it gets ridiculous. She wanted to see a concert with her husband!

However, there is some really bad mingling that goes on at these family-seating concerts. All the teenagers who think they're cool get together with the opposite sex and hang out all night and do who knows what. Besides the fact that they're noisy, rude, and distracting.

So is it better to separate a family and prevent that? Or keep family-seating and let that go on?

Sunday, January 02, 2005

The Bais Yaakov Mentality. Part 1-Restrictions

On my interview for seminary, the principal asked me if I consider myself a Bais Yaakov girl. Now you're all thinking, "Duh, she said yes.." If only I was that smart. Here's how it went:
Michelle: "Do you mean what a Bais Yaakov girl is supposed to be, or what it has become?"
Rabbi: "Either one."
Rabbi: "Why would you say that?"
Michelle: (Flustered!) "'Cuz I wear denim..."
Meanwhile, this is my second year there, so I couldn't have been too bad.

But anyway, essentially, a Bais Yaakov girl SHOULD be a nice, aidel girl with middot tovot, yirat Hashem, Ahavat Hashem, and Bitachon. She should do Mitzvot out of Avahat Hashem, not out of habit, or because she was raised that way.

Unfortunately, the Bais Yaakov girls I have encountered do everything because they are taught that that is the right thing to do, or better yet, that it's wrong to do everything else. Most girls don't do nearly everything they're taught, because they're viewed as restrictions, not special commandments from G-d. For example, the rule about the boots. They restrict the girls. but are afraid to tackle the issue and tell them simply that they can look extremely "untzniut" (notice my clean language :-) ) when they walk around like that. They don't bother to explain, in connection to that, the value and the beauty of the laws of Tznuit, and how we are so protected from harm when we follow them properly, and how the Mitzvah helps us connect to our spirituality.

They chose to take the negative side of all the issues. They told us: "Don't go to the pizza shop on Fridays. Don't go bowling Motzei Shabbat..." But never explained why. In a certain way, if they would have said, "Don't go there, because we don't want you hanging out with guys..."and tackle the issue properly: Explain why hangihng out with guys is not good, what the consequences are, and offer alternative enetrtainment or eateries that are okay. This way, we have options and are less resentful about the restrictions.

They also made a rule about what color shoes can be worn. So, first it was no "sneakerish shoes" and then, some bozo came in with light blue shoes. In a certain way, I can't blame her, she probably figured that was the one way she could express her individuality without her tuchus being kicked. Then they came up with yet another rule: The only color shoes that are allowed are maroon (not red) and black or brown. That rule went along nicely with the one about no design on the socks. Not even a grey stripe. Then they wonder why the girls are resentful.

Those are the rules that tell us to rebel. Teenagers need options. They need freedom to a certain extent. Everyone appreciates explanations. If they tell the reason they make these rules, they are a little easier to accept, or argue respectfully. When the rules get that ridiculous, though, girls feel a lack of freedom, a lack of control, and definitely a lack of individaulity which is so important in high school.

As for me, I used my shoes. I wore platforms even though they were so out because I knew nobody else would. (Plus they're comfortable, and come in handy when walking in puddles.) I knew they hated them, but I was so frustrated with their nitpicking...well, I won't dig into Part 2- Image.