Monday, January 31, 2011

My, What Rosy Colored Glasses You Have

Recently, a popular subject of discussion on Bad For Shidduchim has been pet peeves caused by roommates/spouses that crop up and lead to bouts of annoyance and frustration for those sharing the same living space (I wrote about this somewhat extensively here). Granted, behaviors such as noisy phone calls or other activities that disturb sleep are quite unwelcome, but other things, such as hanging the toilet paper in the under or over-hand fashion and how one chooses to squeeze the toothpaste tube, seem quite innocuous.

I can understand how maddening it can be if you step all over clipped toenails littering the floor, encounter shaved hair strewn about the bathroom sink, or dirty clothes piled up in various corners of a room instead of the hamper, but are the manners of utilizing/preparing toothpaste and toilet paper so offensive?

While both ASoG and I squeeze the toothpaste from the top or middle, the concept of being provoked by an alternate squeezing method is just absurd. I can empathize if the person squeezes the tube from the middle until applying pressure from that area no longer produces anything to brush his/her teeth with, and instead of wisely squeezing from the bottom to use the rest contained within, decides to throw out the whole thing. That’s ridiculous and wasteful, like trying to cram a square peg into a circular opening and giving up when the square opening is one slot over. And if you really are bugged beyond your limitation of tolerance for this sort of thing – just use two different toothpaste tubes, and shalom al Yisrael.

Regarding hanging toilet paper, I prefer over-hand, while ASoG generally tends to hang under-hand out of habit, not preference. While I find that hanging over-handed makes the toilet paper more accessible, whenever I notice that ASoG inserted a new roll “upside down” (to my mind), I simply flip it over. She doesn’t seem to mind my reversal, and everyone wins.

As a side note, can anyone explain to me the reason why hanging toilet paper under-handed is at all beneficial? You end up having to reach into the recessed area of the holder to find the detached end if there isn’t any paper overtly visible, whereas the overhand method always presents the free end to the user.

Everything in life has its proper use and time. I wrote about this a while ago in reference to being single versus being married, with a tie-in to the concept found in Koheles. In this post, I want to address the idea of viewing life through rose-tinged glasses, as the saying goes.

In dating, viewing your prospective mate through the filtered lens of the “rose-tinged glasses” is a huge mistake. Firstly, you could easily overlook major red flags that would be deal breakers and make your life as a married person utterly miserable, possibly to the point of needing a to break an engagement or have a divorce, Rachmana latzlan.

I always thought it was interesting that “red” flags could be so easily masked by this “rosy” frame of view.

Additionally, you need to be fully aware as many of those little nit-picky, potentially annoying quirks that your date possesses. Why, might you ask? Because you need to have an honest conversation with yourself to determine if you can live with these idiosyncrasies, because they aren’t going anywhere once you give/receive that wedding band under the chuppah. I say “as many of” because it’s impossible to know everything about the person, including some of their eccentricities, until you are living as husband and wife.

And yet, that is where the rose-tinged glasses are entirely appropriate.

Once you’re tied the knot, thus making one of the biggest (if not the biggest) decisions of your life, you need to don those pinkish lenses to filter out the little things that pop up here and there and focus on the greater picture of the wonderful person you married. After you’ve seen everything that’s truly important, such what his/her personality is, how he/she handles stress, expresses anger and disappointment, who his/her friends and family are and how he/she relates to them, not to mention hashkafos, level of religious commitment, and views on future lifestyle and child rearing, you know in your heart that you want to spent the rest of your life with this wonderful person. At that point, both husband and wife need to back off focusing on the little things, which truly have no real significance in the overall functioning of their marriage.

I’m not talking about harmful habits, or things that disturb one’s emotional/psychological peace, or undermines their health and wellbeing. I’m referring to all those “pet peeves,” which can be sensitively addressed – as long as both partners are willing to work together, one being patient, encouraging and understanding, while the other proactive, determined to work on his/herself, and willing to accept making a mistake or two on the road to improvement.

Yes, things have come up here and there in the few months that ASoG and I have been married, and most times we have successfully negotiated a compromise that worked out for both of us. In a few instances, certain issues have led to more heated discussions, but the attitude of perceiving the other person for the sum total of amazing things that made us want to marry the other has prevailed in the end. That is one of the key lessons to be learned and applied to have an effective and successful marriage.

So while you are still single, find out as much as you possibly can about the other person’s habits, good and bad. Talk to roommates, former roommates, and ex-roommates to inquire about your personal concerns in a spouse (the difference between the last two is where one graduated/got married/moved away and the other left because they couldn’t stand living with the guy/gal).

Once you are married, it behooves you to see the forest, not the trees, and appreciate your spouse for all the positive, heartwarming things that brought you together in the first place and made the idea of marriage a welcome one in your mind and heart.

If you find yourself still “in the parsha,” stash those rose-colored glasses away. If you’re already married, bring ‘em out and wear them 24/7 – both you and your spouse will be happier for it. Get all googly-eyed and wistful, sigh in ardor when your mind wafts to thoughts of your beloved – in short, do all that stuff that you used to do when you were dating and what should be bottled up and stored for use after sheva brachos are over (and sometimes, even during sheva brachos, considering how stressful they often are).

May everyone use their own personal pair of rose-tinted glasses at the right time and with the right person!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Will YOU Marry A Maccabeat?

12/6/12: For an updated image, check this post.

Over the recent YU winter break two more Maccabeats got engaged, and I could all but hear the collective frum female world sigh in frustration.
A similar thing happened a number of years ago when David Lavon, of the infamous Chevra "L'cha!" video, also got engaged.
Anyway, I figured I'd whip up a quick little graphic for those still seeking the possibility of being a Maccabeat Married Maidel .
And for anyone who is curious... I do know them, though Maccabeat leader Chaim Horowitz and his wife are the official shadchanim of the group.
Of the remaining Maccabeats, there are two med school students, a law school student, a teacher, and various YU undergrads (with majors that I am unaware of). So, who's going to be the next to get engaged...?
*NOTE* As some may have noticed, the "Flip my latkes in the air sometimes" Maccabeat, Nachum Joel, is not pictured, since this is an older group photo from last year. In addition, the "Missing Maccabeat," who was not featured in the video, Yona Saperstein, is visible in the back right of the second row.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Post Wedding Report - Part 5

Sorry it’s been so long since the last time I continued this series. Heck, ASoG and I celebrated our X-month anniversary not too long ago (X < 10, but I don’t want to give any stalkers the chance to figure out when we got married), and I finally remembered to get back to work.

Don't forget parts 1, 2, 3, and 4!

We had a special guest sing Mi Bon Siach. The singer’s (a friend of mine) rendition of Mi Bon Siach from his album was ASoG’s favorite version, so I arranged for him to be there at the chuppah as a sort of surprise (she knew about it beforehand). As ASoG walked around me the requisite seven times, accompanied by our mothers, I alternated closing my eyes in prayer and sneaking a loving glance toward ASoG. Every time our eyes met we’d exchange a private little smile. The unspoken thought shared between us was “Yes, it’s finally here. This is real. Thank G-d.”

From the department of things that go wrong at weddings: ASoG just informed me that when she was being walked around, her dress was hiked up her slightly to accommodate her circling. In doing so, the bottom edge of the dress lifted, revealing the bottom of the white, poofy under-thing (ASoG said it’s called a crinoline) that brides wear to maintain the poofiness of their dress. While nothing scandalous was visible (just the white dress-thing, which was basically ankle length) no one bothered to fix it, and it remained that way throughout the chuppah. Consequently, we threw out a bunch of pictures that were ruined by this unfortunate oversight. Oh well…

Once ASoG finished her last circuit around me, we stood side-by-side beneath the beautiful chuppah, made of some white transparent material and a beautiful floral arrangement. My uncle served as the announcer and called up our Mesader Kiddushin (MK) to begin the ceremony. The MK said the brachos for Erusin and I took a drink from the wine, which was one of the most awful wines I’ve ever tasted in my life. When ASoG’s mother handed her the wine to drink, she also visibly recoiled when it touched her tongue.

I had read somewhere in my pre-wedding reading list that the wine under the chuppah should be sweet – aside from the positive omen aspect of it (sweet wine = sweet beginning/marriage), the more practical reason is that you haven’t had anything to drink all day, and why shouldn’t you enjoy it? Clearly the wedding hall just bought a case of mini-bottles of the cheapest stuff that could be found without really caring about the effect on their customers.

Anyway, my uncle called up the two Eidei Kiddushin, one a prominent YU Rabbi and the other a rebbe from my childhood. The MK asked me to produce the ring, I turned to Dad who had been holding it for me. Dad gave me the little box, I took out the ring and held it up. The MK asked me if the ring was in fact mine, purchased with my own money and I answered it was.

Parenthetically, when I bought the ring, I had taken cash out of an ATM per our MK’s advice to ensure the money was totally mine (the checking account I had been using was in both my name and my Mother’s, dating back a few years). To make things even better, the jeweler opened a new account in their computers so the receipt even had my name on it. He proudly handed me the receipt and said “Now you can tell the Rabbi it’s 100% kosher.”

The MK asked me to show the ring to the eidei kiddushin and asked them if they thought it was worth a sheva pruta, which they relied they believed it was. Earlier, at the Chosson’s Tisch, I had requested that the MK feed me the words to “Harei At,” because I thought I might get too nervous and forget them (I had also read this was the right thing to do, and it made sense to me), but in the moment I didn’t need any assistance. Calmly, with full confidence, I said the most important words I’ve ever uttered in my life.

Harei at mikudeshes li, b’taba’at zu, k’das Moshe v’Yisrael.

Behold, you are consecrated to me, with this ring, according to the laws of Moshe and Yisrael.

I carefully slid the ring over ASoG right index finger – just enough to get it close to her second knuckle. There is no halachic reason to force the ring to go further than that, and the ring was sized to fit her left ring finger anyway, so if it didn’t quite fit, why try to force it on and hurt her? The MK turned to the eidei kiddushin who declared “mikudeshes, mikudeshes.”

My uncle called up ASoG’s family rabbi to read the kesubah, which he did with gusto and emotion instead of the typical rush-through read. I raised the kesubah and gave it to ASoG, who promptly handed it off to her mother. The MK then took a few minutes to speak (per my request) and addressed us as well as the crowd. He spoke of our dedication and commitment to Judaism, and our future goals in life, among other things (it’s kind of hard to remember all the details, sufficed to say I thought he did a great job).

Next were the sheva brachos themselves, which were pretty difficult to organize – in order to keep everyone on both sides of the family happy (I hear this basically happens with everyone). Among those honored were relatives, rabbeim, and prominent YU personalities. I still very keenly remember the smile on each man’s face as he joined us beneath the chuppah, some offering a word of encouragement (“you’re doing great!”) before they went about the task of reciting their bracha.

After the last bracha was completed, we drank again from that horrible, awful, vile wine. I really recommend to anyone who has a chance to prepare beforehand to go buy a bottle of Moscato D’Asti or some other nice white wine (since no one wants to get red wine anywhere near the Kallah’s dress) to make sure you can at least enjoy drinking the wine under the chuppah.

A cousin of mine proceeded to sing Im Eshkocheich, and the wedding hall coordinator got the glass ready for me to stomp. As many readers may recall from my previous post on the subject, I had decided to break the glass while Im Eshkocheich was being sung – and I did exactly that. However, the coordinator was of a more traditional mindset and vehemently argued with me for a few seconds that I should wait to break the glass. In hindsight, it may have been appropriate to announce that that was what I was going to do, since the crowd was awkwardly silent for a bit after the singing ended. Friends reported to me later that there was a momentary debate regarding if I had broken the glass or not, with some saying I had with others countering that I hadn’t. Thankfully, the band started the classic post-chuppah Od Yishama and everyone leapt to their feet, cheering and wishing us “Mazal Tov!”

Look for Part 6 Soon!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Yet Another Marriage Segulah!?

Segulos for marriage - everyone's heard of them. Bad for Shidduchim has chronicled quite a few, but I heard a new one tonight from my Rav that I don't think has been mentioned anywhere before.

Everyone (or mostly everyone) has heard of the famous segulah for a single girl to hold the candle at havdallah. The segulah is even size-specific, since she should hold the candle at the height she would like her future husband to be.

However, has anyone ever heard of a segulah involving the havdallah wine? Nope, I'm not talking about drinking it.

Rather, akin to the practice of dipping one's fingers into the post extinguishment wine and dabbing it over the eyes (for healthy vision), the forehead (for seichel), on the back of the neck (the location of the luz bone, necessary for the resurrection of the dead), or the pockets (for parnassa) - a single girl dips her fingertip into the wine and dabs in on her left ring finger, in the hopes that it will be a segulah that a real ring should find its way there soon.

I'd never heard anyone mention/write about this particular marriage segulah, but my Rav mentioned that he knows of several single girls who do this, so I figure it might be worth something.

Any readers out there know of/practice this very interesting segulah?

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Ice, Fire, and Bugs O'Plenty

Exodus: Part 3 - Don't forget the first and second chapters!

The day was overcast; the sky filled with angry grey clouds. Mysterious specks of light appeared, shining through the murky haze. They increased in size, appearing like torches encased in glass, hurtling through the sky. Egyptians milling about in the open-air markets froze in their tracks and beheld the odd, unidentified objects mysteriously travelling through their airspace.

The first boulder sized chunk of ice crashed through Tik-tik’s fresh juice stand, blasting it into splinters and spraying multi-colored beverages everywhere like an explosion of blood. A gout of flames burst forth from the shattered ice, burning the remains of the cart to cinders.

Fortunately, Tik-tik himself had just closed up shop and stepped out on his lunch break. The successive booming impacts and screams of terror sent him running outside the nearby falafel joint where he beheld his ruined business cart and the mounting pandemonium. Shoppers and shopkeepers alike fled on foot and animal back away from the pedestrian mall as every structure in sight was pummeled by giant hailstones and set aflame by the fiery embers within.

The extremely unusual hailstorm, the nature of which defied court meteorologists’ explanation, ravaged the country, damaging numerous public and private buildings. Even the royal palace’s pool house was blasted into smithereens and reduced to ash. Sadly, the Pharoah’s personal pool maintenance staff and lifeguards were among the casualties of that particular incident.

Egypt’s leading scientists were utterly discombobulated by the strange ice plus fire phenomenon. Oq Yun-bib, Professor of Elements at Ramses the Great University was baffled why the ice simply would not melt and extinguish the flames within. He repeatedly insisted in media outlets that conventional scientific wisdom had all but confirmed that the triad of elements, earth, fire and water had a specific, and rather un-nuanced system of dominance. Water, or in this case, ice melting into water, should have easily overcome the fire inside the hailstones.

The overwhelmed fire chief discovered his men were woefully ill-equipped to stop the spreading blazes. Despite their predicament, they continued risking life and limb in an attempt to perform their job as the explosive projectiles continued to rain down in a torrential fashion. As injuries and the death toll began to rise, Pharaoh Ramses II authorized the premature opening of the in-progress royal tombs to serve as underground shelters for thousands of homeless, distraught Egyptians.


A deeply tanned, pot-bellied, middle-aged man with an oversized mustache danced across the screen flapping his arms wildly. “So come by and visit Crazy Kamal’s Used-Camel Emporium!” He shouted. “You can’t find a better deal or better quality camels…” Kamal slapped the flank of a large camel standing next to him, “Anywhere!” The startled animal promptly spat in Kamal’s face.

The commercial ended, and the Egyptian News Network logo appeared.

“We now go to Zamtar the weatherman for this week’s forecast!” Tut-hak-bur announced.

Qeela crossed her arms in front of her on the desk. “What have you got for us today, Zamtar?”

“Thank you Tut and Qeela,” Zamtar nervously unrolled a scroll of papyrus and scanned the hieroglyphs inscribed there.

“Well, Zamtar?” Qeela tapped her fingers impatiently. Zamtar ruffled the scroll fretfully, clearly unsure what was going on. Gulping, he uttered a single word.


“Locusts?” Qeela and Tut wondered aloud in unison.

“Yes,” Zamtar glanced at his papyrus again. “Locusts.”

Zamtar, locusts isn’t weather. Rain is weather. Sandstorms are weather. Hail is-” Tut-hak-bur put a hand on Qeela’s arm. Realizing her insensitive goof, Qeela made an embarrassed, wide-eyed face and quickly clamped a hand over her mouth.

“Let’s take a look at the chart,” Zamtar signaled two off-screen assistants who walked onto the stage with a large scroll. One firmly grabbed the top and bottom edges while the other grasped the open flap and extended it to reveal the image within. The large map showed an outline of the Egyptian Empire, including little details like the various bends of the Nile River, the Royal tombs, the Sphinxes, the in-progress pyramids and treasure storehouses the Hebrew slaves had been building, the nearby Reed Sea and the occasional palm tree thrown in for good measure. A smiley faced sun god filled the upper left corner.

“Since early this morning, we have been experiencing strong eastern winds blowing in from the direction of the Reed Sea,” Zamtar gestured toward a few elongated spirals with tails that began near a large wavy image and stretched toward the residential areas. “You may have also noticed the steady buzzing sound that’s been progressively getting louder over the weekend.”

“I’ve been wondering what that was!” Tut-hak-bur exclaimed. Qeela slapped his shoulder to quiet him.

Zamtar coughed and ruffled his cue-card. “This trend is predicted to continue into the morning, where the winds will pick up speed. The result,” he hefted a stone hieroglyph stamp and inkpad, “is not going to be pretty” Zamtar dipped the stamp and gently pressed it to the map, leaving behind a little imprint that resembled a squiggle with wings over the western bank of the Reed Sea.

“Well, that doesn’t seem too bad, Zamtar!” Qeela interrupted.

“That’s just Monday morning around sunrise,” he continued. “As the day goes on, conditions will continue to deteriorate,” he added three more winged squiggles.

“That’s still not so terrible. We’ve had locust swarms pass through before,” Tut-hak-bur said, turning to Qeela. “Those things can’t fly, right?”

Re-inking his stamp, Zamtar cleared his throat and announced, “Then the rest of the week will look a bit like this.” He furiously jabbed the stamp all over the map, punching through the papyrus twice before running out of ink.

“Oh my,” Qeela recoiled.

Breathing hard, Zamtar turned back to the camera with a nervous smile, “And that’s it for this week in weather!”

Tut-hak-bur and Qeela sat in stunned silence as Zamtar finished his segment. After a moment, Tut-hak-bur shakily adjusted his tie and looked at his co-anchor.

“Remind me to tell the missus I’m going to need a new pair of galoshes."

Monday, January 3, 2011

Ein Yeiush Ba'olam Klal

I have a new favorite song.

For those of you who haven’t purchased Omek Hadavar’s new album called Mekor Chaim, do it! Their first album, The Depth of the Matter was fantastic. It’s one of the few CDs where I actually felt that the entire album was composed of worthwhile songs without any filler, and thus every song was uniquely enjoyable . Thankfully, Mekor Chaim is no different.

Anyway, my new favorite song is the 4th track on the album, titled “Ein Yeiush.” Not only is it fast, upbeat, and a pleasure to listen to from a musical standpoint, the choice of lyrics is fantastic as well – and actually fit the song. For those who haven’t heard it yet, you can check out a snippet here (along with the rest of the album).

In the meantime, here are the lyrics themselves, which are drawn from numerous sources, including Breslov literature (they don’t cite which sefarim in the jacket art) and Tehillim:

Below are the lyrics, transliteration and translation (don’t jump on me about exactness of my choice in words, this is more of a free-hand rather than academic translation):

Adam yisodo me’afar – aval ein yeiush ba’olam klal

A man’s origin is from dust – but, there is no despair in the world

V’sofo l’afar – aval ein yeiush ba’olam klal

And his end is to go to dust – but, there is no despair up in the world

Im atah ma’amin sheyicholim lekalkel - ta’amin sheyicholim letaken

If you believe that you can mess things up – you must believe that you are able to fix them

Adam margish shehu nafal – aval ein yeiush ba’olam klal

Man may feel that he's fallen – but, there is no despair up in the world

Adam margish shehu livad – aval ein yeish ba’olam klal

Man may feel that he’s alone – but there is no despair up in the world

Im atah ma’amin sheyicholim lekalkel - ta’amin sheyicholim letaken

If you believe that you can mess things up – you must believe that you are able to fix them

Lo ira ra ki atah imadi, shiftecha umishantecha, hayma yenachamuni (Tehillim 23:4)

I will fear no evil, for You are with me. Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

The song conveys such an intensely powerful lesson. Often, “yeiush” is translated as “giving up,” but a more accurate translation would be “despair.” Yeiush is a halachic term, used to express an owner’s total disavowal of hope that he could ever reclaim a lost object whereby another person could acquire it, since the original owner has basically relinquished his claim of ownership.

For example, if someone loses his sefer that has his name and phone number in it, he will maintain hope that another person will find it and call him to return it. That owner of the sefer will not have yeiush anytime soon, unless something incredibly difficult happened, like the sefer fell off the side of a boat into an ocean or many years went by. However, someone who loses a dollar bill, which has no identifying markings on it, which means he has next to zero chance of ever recovering it, totally gives up almost immediately.

Yeiush is the ultimate expression of giving up – letting yourself give in to despair.

The lyrics taken from Breslov literature tells us (via the song) that there should never be yeiush in this world we live in. True, man was created from the dust of the Earth, and our end point is that we will be returned to the dust and physically become one with the dust – even so, in life, there is no reason to ever totally give up hope.

A person may feel that they are falling, have fallen, or are all alone – and still, no matter what bad things happen to you, there is no reason to ever totally give up hope that things can change for the better.

Then there is that fantastic chorus – if you believe in the possibility that you can make a mistake, that you can mess things up in life, then you MUST believe that it’s possible to fix things, to make things better. The mere possibility that things could go wrong HAS to mean, perforce, that the possibility exists that things could go right.

And it is for that reason that we must never give up hope, not utterly. We can get beaten down, rejected, refuted, broken up with, have our feelings hurt, feel like we’ve lost our way spiritually, believe that we’ve dropped a level from where we legitimately should be, or even feel as though all is lost – and yet, we should never give up.

That is what G-d does for us. When we are with Him, the possibility of fear cannot exist in our lives, in our minds. He will support us, no matter where our lives take us, because He knows and He cares. Every downward spiral has an upward curve. That is what this song teaches us.

This message has universal meaning, no matter where you are in life. If you are dating and still single, this means that no matter how many “no’s” you get, you will get that “yes” one day. You must believe that. It’s so easy to believe that our dating lives can be a big mess and go wrong at every turn, but we need to also believe that things can, and more importantly, will go right.

Marriage isn’t easy either; it’s certainly no walk in the park. Nome of the single readers out there should think that once you’ve reached the chuppah everything is peachy-keen and life is happily ever after. That isn’t to say that being married isn’t wonderful – it absolutely is – but it requires constant attention and work, an ever-increasing input of energy to make sure that the relationship is healthy, that love and caring are the primary emotional expressions, and no one gives into the darker, negative emotions like anger.

Of course, humans, being the imperfect creations that we are, slip every now and then. We do mess up. I’m not the most perfect husband ever, and I misstep on occasion (yes, even this early on in marriage). Nevertheless, I am an absolute believer that for every time I blunder, I am able to exert all my energy, renew my devotion, and steer myself in the proper direction to make up for and surpass my errors. Without that, all the bad things we unintentionally, (and sometimes, chas v’shalom intentionally) do to our spouses will simply accumulate and destroy everything.

The key is never to give up totally, to never express that despair. It isn’t right, and it never helps. If you do give up every last shred of hope, that’s it, endgame.

So everyone out there – single, engaged, newly married, long married – it’s always possible, it will happen. Don’t ever, ever lose all hope.

Im atah ma’amin sheyicholim lekalkel - ta’amin sheyicholim letaken