Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Blurring the Line of "Reality" and "Bitachon"

One Shabbos, it was really hot out, and I had committed to going to someone for the meal. I felt the need for sunscreen, since a 25 minute walk at midday can't be very beneficial to the fair-skinned. So I have this liquid aerosol spray stuff, that, to be quite honest, I'm not sure I can use on Shabbos. You can't spray it directly in your face; the bottle tells you to spray into your hand, and rub on your face. Liquid.

I thought to myself, "should I assume that by virtue of being careful about Shabbos, the sun will have no effect on me whatsoever?" Or, should I believe in science, and think, "Sun. Ultra-Violet Rays. Skin damage (or G-d forbid, worse)..." Seventeen magazine had a whole section on skin a while ago, and those articles (probably the only thing worth reading in there) convinced me of the importance of sunscreen. Anyway, I was afraid that using sunscreen would show a lack of Bitachon, but not using it would be not doing my Hishtadlus. I guess it always comes down to that.

I guess you could compare it to the whole Neshama Yeseira thing: Many people claim that if they eat Kokosh cake on Shabbos, they won't gain weight. Because it's Shabbos. I think they just won't gain weight because of pure science. If they treat themselves to a small portion once a week, they probably won't gain. I wouldn't attribute that to Shabbos.

Similarly, I was taking a core class in college, and sometimes there are old tests available. Until a Rabbi in seminary said it was okay, I was very against it. I still don't like using them, but if it's a tool that's available, and legitimate, then I feel it's alright. When I went to pick them up, however, the girl said, "Oh, I don't know if anyone was able to sneak anything new," (since they changed the curriculum) I was shocked, disappointed, and conflicted. 'Do you know how these were obtained?" I asked. "I dunno," she replied casually. "You think it wasn't legitimate?" She shrugged, and said, "possibly." So here I was the night before a test, faced with this dilemma. I was dying to see what the exam questions were like. Just to see how they ask the questions to get a feel for it.

Again, I was met with the same thing. "If G-d sees that there's a test here, and it could be legit, and it could be not, and I'm not looking at it, does that guarantee a better grade on the test?" It's not like cheating, but I guess here you could compare it. One knows that if he cheats, he may get a better grade down here, but his grade "up there" is an F.

Keep in mind, though, that the sunscreen, I was doubtful as to whether it was assur. Same as the tests. So it wasn't completely defiant.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Shidduch Resumes

For those who are unaware, the Shidduch resume is supposed to be a summary of all your stats, so your info is accessible to anyone who needs it.

So, you usually include your shul, schools, parents names and occupations, and some references.

That should be enough. However, in an effort to differentiate themselves from the next "smart, bubbly, frum-but-worldly" Bais Yaakov girl, people include things that I find unnecessary. One girl wrote that she was on the Dean's List in her college. Valedictorian is one thing. Dean's List? Isn't that, like, 99.99% of the frum people in Touro? This girl actually went to a real school, but still.

In addition, people like to write what they're looking for. That makes sense. But not a whole page worth. One girl had a page attached to the sheet of stats, delineating what she won't stand for. "I AM NOT interested in anyone who wants a TV in his house." I understand she objects to TV, but the way she wrote it seemed forceful, and thus, unappealing.

When you write about what you want, you want to be accurate. That's pretty difficult since, as we know, everything is done in code. "Short-term learner" seems to mean a faker who wants to sit outside Yeshiva smoking for two years while Mommy and Daddy foot the bill, and his wife parades around Flatbush with a bug-a-boo, and coach shoes.

My mother's friends have daughters who have just returned from Israel, and of course, in effort to avoid them being 21 and single, like I am, are hard at work on the resumes. For a half-hour, they discussed different terms, and debated the wording that would most accurately describe their daughter's suitor. Lemme tell you, one of these girls wouldn't know Nicole Richie if she stared her in the face. Paris WHO? I informed of her of the existence of iPods, in 2005. Clearly, I wouldn't consider her "worldly." (Yes, knowledge of Paris and Nicole determine worldliness) The girl is very Yeshivish, and pretty sheltered. She is, however, seeking a young man who plans to learn 2-3 years after marriage, and get a job. But she means LEARN. Not sit outside and smoke. So, we already know, "short term learner" doesn't describe that. "Learning forever" is too long for her. Then her mother came up with a good one, "What about someone who is working, but has a strong Torah value?" I laughed. Once you say working, forget it. They won't be impressed with her lack of Richie/Hilton knowledge.

Then they ask for only married friend references. Yes, the single ones with STEAL them away from you.

Then they ask who your siblings married, and where they're from, and where they went to school. Because that matters.

I do understand asking which schools the siblings go to. That's usually a decent indicator of the family's hashkafos and general situation.

And then they ask you to describe yourself. That's awkward. "I'm the nicest, sweetest, bubbliest Bais Yaakov girl. I have lots of chain. I was head of dance." Yes, they ALL were head of dance.

They tell you to describe the guy you want. That makes you feel so demanding. "Oh, jeez, you want middos, and a sense of humor? And non-smoker? now you're pushing it."

Oh! And every girl is pretty; every guy is "Tall and handsome," even when they're short and not very handsome.

So, what are these resumes worth again?

Friday, July 06, 2007

Don't You Know I'm Perfect?

At a recent Simcha, I made acquaintance with some interesting young women.

The conversation inevitably led to dating, and something a girl said led me to ask, "Do you think people are flawed?"

"Well, not everyone is flawed," she declared. Did I hear right?

I certainly don't think it's my negativity and cynicism that made her repeat her senseless statement. It's called reality. Nobody's perfect. If we were, we'd be G-d.

I mentioned the banned "Making of a Gadol," which she had never heard of. I delicately explained the ideas discussed in my piece "Rabbanim are NOT G-d," which wasn't very well received. "I don't know Gedolim, so I can't tell you if they're flawed or not," she tells me. Wouldn't that mean she's putting her flawless friend above the Gedolim? I would think someone under the illusion there are perfect people would undoubtedly place Gedolim in that category.

She said she knows someone whom she'd consider flawless. I don't. I asked how often she saw this person, how much time she has spent with the person, etc. I didn't want to put her on the spot and ask who it was, and how she knew this person, but she made it sound like it was someone she was close with.

"You mean to tell me, this person has never gotten anrgy, has never lied, has never spoken Lashon Hora, has never hurt anyone, let anyone down, shown up late to anything, skipped a Tefillah..." I asked. Now, obviously, the things I listed are not general character flaws. They can simply be mistakes. Stuff happens.

"No," she repeated after each suggestion.

I just wonder if I am being cynical, or simply acknowledging reality.

The kid's engaged. She obviously saw flaws in the guys she turned down. Since she has this impression of potential flawlessness, does this mean she considers her Chosson flawless? Is she in for it big, or will she continue to delude herself into thinking he's perfect?

A little tangent: I think that anyone who thinks the Chosson or Kallah is perfect, or flawless, is delusional and in big trouble. I think it's important to know the flaws of the other person and decide whether they're tolerable and acceptable. It's one thing to have human flaws, which according to me, we all have. But to have bad characteristics (like dishonesty), should be unacceptable. And in Shidduchim, everyone seeks perfection, and that is a huge part of the "crisis..." but now I'm on two tangents.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Happy 3rd Brithday, IMHJO!!

I can't believe it's been three years since my first post!

I look back at some of those, and laugh. Sometimes in a good way, sometimes in a bad way.

I'd like to thank all my readers and the commenters who have the- um, courage- to identify themselves.

Happy Birthday IMHJO!!