Thursday, March 29, 2007

Chag Kasher V'Sameach

Hello all.

I had at least two drafts ready for you, and I realized they were totally predictable.

One was about Rabbi Blumenkrantz ZT"L. Not scathing, but my point of view about the book and the usual.

The other was about Pesach Kitchens. After completing the post, I realized why I hadn't written it before. Some things just go without saying. I'm sure at this point my regular readers can write the post for me, and correctly predict what I'd say.

So, I decided that for once I'll adhere to the cliche, "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all."

This is a one time occurrence. Otherwise, IMHJO would be history. And we don't want that!

Have a GREAT Holiday!!

PS Over spring break, I have to write a paper. I plan to cover how Pesach in Midwood affects the local economy. If it's good, expect to read it here!!!

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Did You Do Your Closets Yet?

Everyone gets really stressed before pesach, and understandably so. As the work-filled holiday approaches, people seem to be consumed by it.

But do they have to be?

I mean, for those of us who stay home, it is quite the responsibility to clear our houses of chametz. I know that I have like 3 knapsacks, and a few handbags to go through, as well as jacket pockets, and of course, my car. I do know, however, that my closet and my drawers are chametz-free since I never put food in there. Yes, it is that simple.

So why are people constantly worrying about places in their house where they clearly haven't brought food? You can't complain if you equate "Spring Cleaning" with Pesach Cleaning. I have no problem with Spring Cleaning. It certainly isn't "goyish," but if people complain about the holiday, and they are going above and beyond necessities, they're foolish.

People blur the differentiating lines, start cleaning after Channuka, and stress themselves out. Why go beyond what we're commanded, then complain that you're stressed out?

Pesach is a lot of work as it is. Transferring pots, pans, dishes, silverware, and kashering your sinks and countertops, lining the shelves of the shopping, cooking....There's a TON of preparation.

Using this as Spring Cleaning takes away from the real commandment--which is ridding ourselves of Chametz.

I've heard, "Dust isn't Chametz, and your husband isn't the Korban Pesach." Not my type of expression, but gets the point across well.

And some people insist on cleaning their ceiling fans. That's why people complain.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Modern = Less Religious? I don't think so.

"Are you Modern?" A very bored family member once asked me.
"No," I answered emphatically.
"Why not? What's wrong with being Modern?" the people around the table roused.

The word "modern" seems to mean different things to different people in different communities. In the summer, when I wore my sandals without socks, I was deemed "modern." Does that make a person "modern"?

I find Modern Orthodoxy to be a belief system that leads to a lifestyle different from the Yeshivish and Black Hat ways of life. (Yes, Yeshivish and Black Hat are two different segments.) Does "modern" mean less religious?

In the community I live in, which I consider "Black Hat," certainly not Yeshivish, if a child rebels against his school, or a girl begins to dress like a ho, the child is considered Modern. No. It's about Hashkafos and thoughts, not just appearances. Considering my high school teachers taught me about R' Solevicthik solely as "J.B." implying a sore lack in religion, I have lots to learn about the Modern Orthodox Hashkafa. Does this mean that once I know these things, I will find it permissible to wear pants? No. It has little to do with appearance.

I find it entertaining that the black-hatters judge the MO on their standards of Tznius. And I've been labeled "Modern" because of my sandals without socks, or my slits below the knee. I don't think that's what makes me Modern, if I am in fact Modern. So these women who attended various Bais Yaakovs or other kinds of schools in Brooklyn have been taught the importance of covering their hair, and of course, elbows, knees and collarbone. So according to these warped ideas, it is okay to wear skintight everything and attract every man that passes, as long as their hair is completely covered. With a sheitel that looks nicer than anyone's real hair would look anyway.

When a woman attempted to set me up with someone, I made sure to ask if the guy davens with a minyan on a regular basis. His mother explained that he works, so he tries to make Shacharis when he can...all that. Then she said, "I guess he's too modern for you." Umm, EXCUUUUSE me? I know many Modern Orthodox people who wouldn't miss a minyan, unless there were extenuating circumstances. The word "modern" is terribly misused.

The guy has misplaced priorities. Missing minyan doesn't make somone "modern," and neither do sandals.


Wednesday, March 07, 2007

"Are we all bad Jews?"

I was chatting with my friend last Wednesday night, and I bluntly stated, "I SO don't wanna fast tomorrow," and felt instant remorse.

How could I say something like that? I am sure many normal people feel that way, but to say it out loud almost makes it as if it's okay.

"OMG," I realized aloud. "How dare I say something like that? Like thinking I have things to do. I have to prepare Mishloach Manot, I have to cook (the things my mother allowed me to cook) for the Seuda, I have tons of homework, quizzes, and none of those should come before fasting. I mean, Judaism should be #1. Why should I think about how it would interfere with my "life," since my life should really revolve around this?"

Agreeing that most normal people don't enjoy fasting, and obviously don't look forward to it, my friend asked,"So, you're saying we're all bad Jews?"

"Basically, yeah," I clarified.

So many times I feel like I've allowed my physical desires come before my spiritual needs. Why is it that when I daven I could space out and not focus, but when I read about politics, or marketing, I can pay attention?

Something is certainly lacking there.

It's a matter of how you look at things. In discussion about schoolwork with classmates, I say, "I can't do any work on the Sabbath, I'm not allowed to..." and it sounds like Shabbos is interfering with my work. Shouldn't I feel like the schoolwork that would be on my mind the whole Shabbos is interfering on Shabbos?

I try to justify it, and say, "we live in America, I need to do well in school," which is certainly true, but I don't feel it's right to dread fasting because it will interfere with my ability to perform my schoolwork.

Perhaps this is a product of the Bais Yaakov system in which if you aren't perfect, you aren't worth anything at all.