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April 20, 2014 / 20 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘bride’

Everything You Wanted to Know about the Mitzvah Tantz

Friday, August 10th, 2012

Hundreds of Hasidic Jews on Thursday attended the wedding of the grandson of the Toldos Avrohom Yitzchok Rebbe in Bnei Brak, where this mitzvah dance was performed.

The mitzvah tantz (mitzvah-dance) is the Hasidic custom of the men dancing with the bride on her wedding night, after the wedding feast. The bride stands perfectly still, holding one end of a long sash while rabbis, the groom’s father, her own father or her grandfather holds the other end and dances with her.

The source of the custom is in the Gemorah Ketubot (16b-17a):

They said of R. Judah b. Ila’i that he used to take a myrtle twig and dance before the bride and say: “Beautiful and graceful bride.” R. Shmuel the son of R. Isaac danced with three twigs. R. Zera said: The old man is putting us to shame. When he died, a pillar of fire came between him (R. Judah b. Ila’i) and the rest of the world. And there is a tradition that a pillar of fire has made such a separation only for one in a generation or for two in a generation. R. Zera said: His twig benefited the old man, and other said: His habit benefited the old man, and some say: his folly benefited] the old man (the gemorah is playing on the words for twig, foolishness and method). R. Aha took her (the bride) on his shoulder and danced with her. The Rabbis said to him: May we also do it? He said to them: If she is on you like a beam (meaning you are not enticed by her), then it is all right, but if not, you shouldn’t.

During the mitzvah tantz, the bride and her relatives are brought into the men’s section without a mechitza separation. In fact, often the mechitza is removed altogether, and all the women present share the same space with the men on the other side.

Some Orthodox groups are uncomfortable with this custom.

That’s OK.

Three Reasons Why You Should Not Help Your Children Buy a Home or Apartment

Wednesday, June 27th, 2012

What is the greatest present that you can give your children when they get married?

In certain communities, the answer is, “an apartment.” Many parents take on second or third mortgages, sell their own homes, or bury themselves in debt to make sure that an apartment comes along with the trousseau. While they may not be looking forward to paying off huge debts at an age when most people are retired, they will probably sigh and tell you that these days, you can’t find a decent match for your child unless it includes an apartment as well.

But in fact, there are three reasons why buying an apartment can be detrimental for you and your children:

You can’t afford it

You may jeopardize your retirement. You have worked all your life to support your family, providing your children with an education and everything they need to grow into fine, responsible citizens. As you grow older, your children should move on to support themselves and the savings that you have put aside can be used for your golden years.

You need to be fair to your children –don’t give to one unless you can give the same amount to all. Buying an extra apartment can be costly. If you have more than one child, huge resentment can arise between them if only one of them got the free apartment.

Not everyone is doing it

Although the rumor mills may say “everyone buys the bride an apartment,” it is just not true. I have been a financial advisor both in New York and in Israel and I have seen what goes on firsthand. Some folks help, and some don’t. This is very much a matter of individual choice.

If your future in-laws pressure you, just say no. Tell them your financial planner advised against it. You do not need to be forced into putting yourself into heavy debt to pay for an additional apartment that you really can‘t afford.

Would you sell your daughter for camels?

If the parents of your child’s intended absolutely refuse to marry their child to yours unless you pay up, are you really interested in this match anyway? We live in the modern world where people marry based on mutual goals, dreams, and love. If the other side’s main priority is how much money you have (and are willing to spend on the wedding/apartment), rather than your child’s sterling personal qualities, the future may not shine so bright.

Rather than putting yourself into debt or spending your retirement savings, encourage the young couple to build their home and future together on their own two feet. Their teamwork building their own home (both physical and spiritual) will create more of an everlasting edifice than even the most luxurious apartment from you.

If you want to know more about when it’s wrong to gift to your children, read Gifting Money to Children – Right or Wrong.

How Your Children Will Ruin You Financially

Thursday, June 21st, 2012

What are your biggest dreams for your child’s future? For most parents, it is to see him or her grow into a good person, get a top education, make a decent living, and settle down and get married to a wonderful spouse. All of these are worthwhile expectations, and many of us would say that this is why we work so hard.

Yet as a financial adviser, I have seen many families where, when it comes to marrying off their children, the dream turns into a nightmare. The wedding is a financial free-for-all, with the expensive flowers, a top band, luxury caterer, and the fanciest hall in the city. The young couple dance off into the sunset (possibly to the apartment that Mom and Dad are also paying for) while the parents are left with huge debts. Sometimes, desperate parents take on loans that they know they will never be able to pay off, and they end up borrowing from one loan fund to pay off another until they drown in their accumulated debts. Stories abound of the unfortunate father who dropped dead of a heart attack just after the wedding because he just couldn’t cope with the stress.

But let’s ask an honest question here: What is more important? The wedding itself or the years of marriage that follow? Even if you had the money to pay for a lavish wedding, wouldn’t you rather give it to your newlywed children so that they can start building their own home? Or put some of it aside for the next wedding or for your own retirement, as you don’t know how things will be in a few years’ time?

Part of the problem, of course, is what society expects. We wouldn’t feel any pressure to keep up with the Joneses if the Joneses weren’t so fussy about the name of the hall or the caterer, or whether the bride borrowed her dress or actually bought one.

It’s time to change our expectations when it comes to weddings. What’s more important? A happy bride and groom who had a simple wedding and whose parents are healthy (both physically and fiscally), or the young couple who had the “top” wedding, but whose families cracked under the strain? A marriage is supposed to last forever, not the expenses incurred from the wedding.

June Bride, 1951

Friday, June 15th, 2012

From “Jews in Minnesota,” by Hyman Berman‏ and Linda Mack Schlof:

“The wedding of Clarice Sherman and Mel Zuckman at Tifereth B’nai Jacob in North Minneapolis, 1951.

“At a Jewish wedding, the bride and groom stand under a chupah or wedding canopy symbolizing their future home.

“As long as Jews remained in the compact geographical areas where they were a dominant majority, they continued to attend Orthodox synagogues while moving away from the strict requirements as individuals. American secular life increasingly challenged the rigid traditionalism of Orthodox Judaism.”

Zohara

Thursday, June 14th, 2012

Zohara was born in Morocco. With her husband, she raised a large family. A busy woman, she always seemed to find time to help others in need.

Her daughter, Aliza, told me of the many sleepless nights her mother spent nursing babies. That is not unusual in itself, were it not for the fact that many of the babies she nursed were not her own.

Zohara lived in a cohesive but poor community of Moroccan Jews. She let it be known that if there were any mother who could not nurse her child, she was prepared to help that mother. In addition to feeding her own babies, she would always be available – day or night – to feed other babies as well.

Zohara was not just involved in this great chesed work. Though not wealthy, she managed to help those less fortunate – with food and other needs.

Twenty years ago, Zohara’s holy neshamah was returned to Shamayim. Her daughter, Aliza, rightfully refers to her mother as a tzaddeikit. After her mother’s petirah, Aliza decided she wanted to find a way to honor her mother’s memory in a way that would reflect the selfless life she had led.

And so with my daughter, Shani, I waited to meet Aliza. This was a day I longed for. I was shopping for a wedding gown for my youngest child.

There are many ways to shop for a bridal gown. One can purchase or rent one. Another option is going to some of the many gemachim that carry gowns free of charge or for a reasonable price. The gemachim provide the bride with the possibility of finding a gown without paying the huge expense of a new one. (The word gemach is an acronym for gemilat chesed, an act of loving-kindness.)

My daughter and I decided to first try our luck with a gemach. We were told of one run by a woman named Aliza. She had a variety of gowns on display in a Jerusalem seminary for young women. The seminary generously supplied the space for this purpose.

Aliza took us into a small room, full of wedding gowns. She discussed the type of gowns that might appeal to Shani, transforming my daughter into a bride before my eyes.

Aliza does not charge any fees for the gowns she displays. She does it for the pure joy it brings her, and in the knowledge that it brings an aliyah to her mother’s neshamah. She suggests that anyone who borrows a gown from her should consider making a small donation to help her update her supplies. There is no obligation or pressure to do this.

After trying on many different styles, Shani found a gown she liked. But she still wanted to check out other places before making her final decision. Aliza told Shani not to feel uncomfortable about it. She told her she took pleasure in meeting a new kallah, and in fact presented my daughter with a lovely gift for her new home before we left.

I asked Aliza what made her decide to open her gemach.

She pointed to the sign on the door. This gemach was named Zohara, after her mother. The word Zohara means light, brilliance, splendor. The name not only describes her mother’s character, but also the image of a bride on her wedding day.

Aliza, like her mother, is a special woman. In addition to her gemach for wedding gowns, she also runs a gemach that helps disadvantaged families with their daily needs. Aliza’s name is also very appropriate, as she brings joy to others.

May she continue to do chesed.

Speed Dating For In-laws?

Thursday, April 26th, 2012

A recent article in The Jewish Press (Purim And The Tyranny of Beauty, Family Issues, March 16, 2012) written by writer and author Yitta Halberstam Mandelbaum generated, and continues to generate, quite a buzz.

Many people agreed with her observations and conclusions – others were indignant, even furious.

Yitta wrote about a rather unique social gathering that she was invited to – as a mother of an “eligible” boy. A gathering whose concept I personally found rather disconcerting. I would best describe it as being a meet/”meat” market, where mothers could shop around for a spouse for their son.

Yitta accepted the invitation that had been extended by a woman whom she respects and admires, and, like any journalist worth her salt, reported on what she saw.

While she greatly admired what she viewed – the courage of these would-be future wives of Israel putting themselves in what she felt was a potentially uncomfortable situation (I know this event was launched with the best of intentions, but I cannot help but see it as a marketplace where hapless “older” singles were to be appraised like merchandise by potential “buyers”‘ – at least on a date it’s a two way street) – Yitta nonetheless opined that many of these young women came to the event dressed and coiffed in a way that did not enhance their looks. Many she observed seemed to be wearing no makeup at all.

Yitta expressed her shocked dismay that quite a few of the young women seemingly did not attempt to do what they could to look their best that evening – or any evening for that matter, as they were overweight, had unflattering hairstyles, etc.

Yitta suggested what to many people were extreme measures to turn an ugly duckling into a swan – including cosmetic and plastic surgery.

While some in the community agreed with her assessment, many others skewered her; aghast that she felt erliche bochrim and their pious, righteous mothers would focus on the superficial. They were upset that Yitta was suggesting that mothers of learning boys would be so shallow as to not see past these bnot Yisrael‘s crooked teeth, size 14 waists, etc. and be dazzled by their inner beauty.

But Yitta was just being the messenger – she was telling it like it is – and the fact is looks do matter and this reality cannot be made to go away despite vehement protests to the contrary.

Time to take the head out of the chulent pot! It’s not a secret that many middle aged women, mothers of shidduch age daughters, fanatically exercise and diet themselves into size 4′s, knowing full well that as they open the door to the bochur taking their daughter out, his eyes will be looking her up and down as he tries to get a glimpse of what his potential wife might look like 25 years into the future.

How this would be mother-in-law looks could influence the length of that first date. The bigger the double chin, the shorter the date – even if the girl herself is rail thin.

Yitta, motivated by genuine ahavas Yisrael, bravely “walked the walk” on an unpopular highway, and offered valuable, but difficult to hear, advice. She did not create this situation – and having herself “been there and done that” she honestly shared her informed opinion on a possibly remedy.

But Yitta’s “tough love” approach is not what motivated me to write about her article.

Her “unorthodox” (pun intended) but meritous suggestions should not have generated controversy – rather the meeting itself should have.

Has getting a shidduch in our community really come to this bizarre state of affairs, what can only be described as speed dating between mothers-in-law and potential daughters-in-law or a matrimonial job fair where you interview for the position of wife, with the CEO (his mother) reviewing your shidduch resume and personally assessing your qualifications?

Whatever happened to young men meeting young women and spending a few hours together and then each of them making a somewhat informed decision as to where to go from there?

It seems with every passing decade, our sons are being infantilized. There was a time not so long ago when men would seek out a wife, marry, and support her and the children they would have. The husband would be the “man of the house,” the household’s primary breadwinner – or at the very least co-breadwinner, if the wife was employed.

In recent years, however, it has become fashionable for young married men to not be required to work – for years.

Instead, their fathers/fathers-in-law are doing the financial supporting, just as they do for their single children still at home.

Sure it’s wonderful to immerse yourself in Torah, but doing that for years means the men doing the supporting cannot retire or cut down on their working hours – thus they have to minimize or postpone their own learning. How fair is that?

Chronicles Of Crises In Our Communities

Thursday, March 22nd, 2012

Dear Readers,

This column has received a number of letters regarding the young wife and mother who penned a so-called memoir supposedly based on her relatively short-lived existence as a member of the Satmar community. While most of these letters express sentiments already aired in this column over the last several weeks, readers seem particularly effected by the scene as depicted in last week’s letter to Deborah by A Willy Mom:

“And then I saw the interview you had with Barbara Walters. I sat in stunned disbelief as your new friends, with the help of their audience and their guest – you – poked fun at a magnified screen picture of you walking to the chuppa with your face ‘badecked.’ I was most distressed.”

As a means of defining the raw emotion that has gripped A Willy Mom and so many others like her, I take the liberty of addressing Ms. Feldman directly on their behalf:

Deborah, we don’t suppose that behind the scenes you bothered letting your new friends in on the significance of our beautiful longtime tradition of “badeken” that was initiated by our Matriarch Rivkah who covered her face when she saw her future husband Yitzchak approaching.

Then again, we don’t imagine your new friends as capable of grasping the concept of a kallah’s purity, let alone appreciating the symbolism conveyed by the veil with which the groom gently covers his bride’s face before proceeding to the wedding canopy where they will stand together to be sanctified as husband and wife.

Oh, yes, about the veil… symbolic of the inner beauty of the bride, which is not to be overshadowed by her external, physical beauty, it also signals the groom’s commitment to protect his bride, as well as the bride’s commitment to reserve her beauty for his eyes only.

Above all, Deborah, in that brief intrusion into your walk to the chuppa that your new friends seemed to find so hilarious, we don’t suppose any of you caught sight of the tears welling in your grandmother’s eyes, or heard her whispered prayers to G-d beseeching Him to shield you from harm and pain and to bless you with endless Yiddish nachas and a happy life alongside your life partner.

But, Deborah, after all is said and done, we still hold out hope — for a righteous woman’s tears are never in vain, as the following story (told by Rabbi Price of Neve Zion in Jerusalem) illustrates.

A family man in Northern Israel ran a produce distribution business. When his son Yair Eitan was old enough to help out, he’d drive the company’s delivery truck. One of his regular stops was at Yeshiva Lev V’Nefesh, where attendees are mostly baalei teshuvah.

Having been raised in a secular home environment, Yair’s curiosity was piqued by the lively energy that pulsated within the yeshiva walls. He gradually began conversing with some of the students and before long was actually sitting down and sampling some Torah study.

His parents were none too pleased about their son’s discovery and new friends, and his enraged father prohibited him from ever stepping foot in that yeshiva – or any yeshiva – again. In his words, there was no way any son of his would become a “backward, bearded chareidi.”

Yair would not be deterred and continued to visit the yeshiva without his parents’ knowledge. Eventually, however, they found out and his father’s violent reaction led to Yair leaving home. In a note he left behind, he wished his parents well but did not disclose his destination. By this time he was aware that there’s a line drawn in the commandment to obey a parent when that parent would have his child disobeying the Torah.

Nonetheless, the father searched for his son until he found him and forced him to return home. He moreover filed a lawsuit against Lev V’Nefesh, claiming that the yeshiva had brainwashed their 18-year old son.

A trial was held and Yair testified that no one coerced him to attend the yeshiva and that he did so of his own volition. The elderly judge who presided over the case seemed somewhat distracted as Yair spoke; he kept eyeing the father. When Yair stepped down having completed his testimony, the judge asked the father to approach and take the witness stand.

The judge first asked him if he was of Eastern European descent and if his name back in Europe had been “Stark.” When Mr. Eitan answered in the affirmative, the judge asked him if he was originally from Pinsk. Again, the answer was yes.

“I remember you very well,” the judge continued. “You come from one of the finest homes in pre-war Pinsk. Your father was a deeply religious and highly respected man. Your mother was renowned for her kindness. She would cook meals for the poor and the sick regularly. I remember well when, as an 18-year-old, you openly departed from your parents’ ways.

Innovative Bride Cuts through Funeral Crowd in ZAKA Ambulance

Thursday, March 15th, 2012

A young woman in Bnei Brak, Israel, had a problem Wednesday: she was about to get married, but the streets outside the wedding hall, situated next to Kiryat Vishnitz, also in Bnei Brak, were packed with thousands of Vishnitz Hasidim who came to pay their last respects to the Vishnitzer Rebbe. How would she get to her own wedding on time?

Proving once again that Israelis are nothing if not innovative, the young bride called the ZAKA (a humanitarian volunteer organization) hotline and, within minutes, a ZAKA ambulance arrived at her door to drive her through the crowds and get her to her chupah on time.

ZAKA volunteer Berele Yaacovitz was delighted at this unusual assignment. “I’ve been volunteering as a ZAKA driver for the last ten years and this is the first time I’ve been involved in a joyous event,” he said with a big smile. “It is truly an emotional moment for me to see my vehicle, which has seen such sorrow and tragedy, take a bride to her wedding.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/innovative-bride-cuts-through-funeral-crowd-in-zaka-ambulance/2012/03/15/

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