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April 23, 2014 / 23 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘OK’

A Shoe, Handkerchief, and Pen

Wednesday, June 17th, 2009

What do a shoe, handkerchief, and pen have in common? For English buffs, they all contain an “e.”

Let’s try in Hebrew: What do na’al, sudar, andeit have in common? They all begin in alphabetical order: Nun, Samach, and Ayin. OK, but better…. in Choshen Mishpat, these are the classic items for “Kinyan Chalipin.”

A fundamental principle of Jewish monetary law is that a transaction must be accompanied by kinyan, an act of acquisitionto be valid. Verbal arrangements, while they should be upheld, are usually not enforceable as binding transactions. (There are a few exceptions, most notably charity pledges.) Even payment does not always make a transaction legally enforceable if not accompanied by an appropriate kinyan.

There are many different acts of kinyan that relate to different kinds of transactions, as described in the first chapter of Maseches Kiddushin. For example, small movable items, such as books, are acquired by raising (Hagba’ha), large items such as furniture by dragging (Meshichah), and real estate through payment, contract or taking possession (Kesef, Sh’tar or Chazakah). Perhaps the most versatile kinyan, which works for both movable items and real estate, and also to create personal obligations and debt, is Kinyan Chalipin.

Towards the end of Megillas Ruth, which we read on Shavuos, Boaz took off his shoe to acquire rights to Ruth. This act smacks of Yibbum, particularly in the context of reestablishing the household of the deceased relative. However the verse clearly is not dealing with Yibbum, but rather with the transfer of legal rights: “Formerly this was done in Israel in cases of … exchange transactions to validate any matter: One would draw off his shoe and give it to the other” (Ruth 4:7).

Handing over a shoe or other functional item (k’li) symbolizes an exchange, chalipin, and expresses full intention of the parties for the transaction. Boaz handed over his shoe to Ploni Almoni (usually understood as Mr. So-and-so), and received from him, in exchange, the legal rights to redeem the fields and take Ruth.

This was commonly done to validate any transaction; the buyer would hand the seller an item as chalipin, a symbolic exchange. It was a quick and easy means of making transactions and agreements immediately enforceable and legally binding.

Consider the following scenario: Shmuel and Rina were engaged and shopping for furniture to outfit their apartment. Some stores were too expensive and others weren’t quite their taste. At Frankel’s Furniture they finally found a bedroom set that was just what they wanted. Because it was a display item they received a 35% discount, making it affordable. They paid for the item and received a sales invoice, with delivery slated for three days, and went happily along their way.

According to the classic rules of Kinyan this sale is not yet finalized! Neither payment nor a contract is a valid act of kinyan for movable items, only picking up or dragging them. Both sides still have the legal right to renege, although they are strongly discouraged from doing so. However, if Shmuel were to hand his pen to Mr. Frankel as Kinyan Chalipin, the sale would be finalized and the bedroom set would be theirs, with no possibility of reneging.

In practice, Halachah validates sales completed in the prevailing customary business manner, based on Kinyan Situmta (to be discussed at some later date, IY”H). Thus, nowadays, after paying and completing the sales invoice in the customary manner, it would not be possible to renege, unless the prevalent practice allows returns.

During the time of Ruth, the favored item of chalipin was a shoe. In the Gemara, the shoe gave way to the sudar, a cloth or handkerchief. It is not even necessary for the seller to take the entire cloth from the buyer, but to grasp a significant portion of it (3×3 inches) and then return it. In recent decades, as handkerchiefs gave way to insignificant paper tissues, the ever-available pen is typically used to perform Kinyan Chalipin.

With decreased awareness of Jewish monetary law and the standardization of commercial practices, Kinyan Chalipin is rarely used in day-to-day business transactions and is mostly utilized in halachic transactions. Thus, we usually encounter Kinyan Chalipin when selling chametz, writing the kesubah at weddings, accepting binding arbitration in beis din, and preparing a halachically valid will (to be discussed next month, IY”H). The concept of Kinyan and the effectiveness of Kinyan Chalipin are also important foundations for future discussions.

With the world going paperless, pens are also going out of vogue. The up-and-coming item for Chalipin is … a cell phone. English buffs – no worry; it also has an “e.” Hebrew lovers, no worry – it also begins with the next letter, peh – pelephone!

Rabbi Meir Orlian is a halachah writer for Machon L’Choshen Mishpat. The Machon, which is headed by HaRav Chaim Kohn, is committed to providing awareness, education and services in all areas of monetary issues that arise in our daily lives. For more information visit www.machonmishpat.com

‘Quonfused’ About Quinoa

Thursday, March 26th, 2009

  Quinoa has become a part of the Passover diet for many observant Jews since the Star-K published an article Quinoa, The Grain That’s Not, in the Kashrus Kurrents for Pesach, 1997.

 

   In this article the Star-K explains that quinoa is not related to the five types of grain that can becomechometz, nor it is related to millet or rice. It is a species of goosefoot (chenopodium) related to the beet and spinach.

 

   Quinoa is grown in the Andes Mountains in locations that do not support growth of the five grains that can become chometz: wheat, rye, oats, barley and spelt.

 

   Quinoa fills a diet hole for many people for Passover. These include people on gluten-free diets, vegetarians and vegans. It is also a non-meat protein source for dairy-intolerant people. It has become so mainstream that Susie Fishbein has featured recipes using quinoa in her bestselling Passover cookbook published last year by ArtScroll. Some of the companies that process quinoa do so in a chometz-free environment to enable the product to be consumed by people on a gluten-free or wheat-free diet.

 

   Regarding quinoa, the OU wrote, “Quinoa is not one of the five grains that can create chometz (wheat, oat, barley, spelt and rye). Nonetheless, there is a difference of opinion among rabbinic decisors as to whether quinoa is consideredkitniyos (Ashkenazic custom is not to eat kitniyos on Pesach). We suggest asking your Orthodox rabbi if it is or is not kitniyos.”

 

   The OU continues to say the following, “It should be noted that although quinoa is not grown in the same vicinity as the five chometz grains mentioned above, the processing of quinoa is often done at the same facility where they process wheat. Therefore, if you rely on the lenient opinion and treat quinoa as non-kitniyos, we suggest that you sift through the quinoa to make sure that there are no other grains mixed in.”

 

   My research has determined that different manufacturers provide different conditions for the packing of quinoa. This year, the Ancient Harvest plant has been checked and determined that the product is processed in chometz-free environment. Ancient Harvest states on their website, “As a grain, quinoa is gluten free. Our Ancient Harvest Quinoa is grown exclusively in the high Andean Altiplano regions of Bolivia. Our quinoa is grown at 12,000+-foot elevations in very arid conditions which will not support traditional gluten bearing grain production, therefore insuring us no possibility of potential field contamination with such grains. Our Traditional, Inca Red and Black whole grain quinoa is then cleaned, processed and packed in our quinoa-only organic and gluten free facilities.” Ancient Harvest quinoa flour is produced in a different plant. Ancient Harvest also produces the Trader Joes brand.

 

   One of the other manufacturers, Arrowhead Mills packs their product on the same lines as they do flour, though on different days, after a clean up. This was confirmed by the OK who certifies this plant. The OK confirmed that Eden Foods quinoa, also under the OK, is usable for Passover, if checked before Passover.

 

   “The Star-K tested quinoa to see if it would rise It did not, it decayed. The result was as Chazal termed, sirchon; the quinoa decayed – it did not rise.”

 

   The Star-K considers quinoa to be kosher for Pesach provided it is purchased from a company that does not process chometz and the quinoa is checked before Passover.

   You should always follow the advice of your own rabbi. If using quinoa, consumers are urged to carefully check grains before Pesach for extraneous matter.

 

   Quinoa should also be rinsed to remove a bitter saponin layer that is found on the outside of the quinoa.

(www.kashrut.com)

‘Quonfused’ About Quinoa

Thursday, March 26th, 2009

  Quinoa has become a part of the Passover diet for many observant Jews since the Star-K published an article Quinoa, The Grain That’s Not, in the Kashrus Kurrents for Pesach, 1997.


 


   In this article the Star-K explains that quinoa is not related to the five types of grain that can becomechometz, nor it is related to millet or rice. It is a species of goosefoot (chenopodium) related to the beet and spinach.

 

   Quinoa is grown in the Andes Mountains in locations that do not support growth of the five grains that can become chometz: wheat, rye, oats, barley and spelt.

 

   Quinoa fills a diet hole for many people for Passover. These include people on gluten-free diets, vegetarians and vegans. It is also a non-meat protein source for dairy-intolerant people. It has become so mainstream that Susie Fishbein has featured recipes using quinoa in her bestselling Passover cookbook published last year by ArtScroll. Some of the companies that process quinoa do so in a chometz-free environment to enable the product to be consumed by people on a gluten-free or wheat-free diet.

 

   Regarding quinoa, the OU wrote, “Quinoa is not one of the five grains that can create chometz (wheat, oat, barley, spelt and rye). Nonetheless, there is a difference of opinion among rabbinic decisors as to whether quinoa is consideredkitniyos (Ashkenazic custom is not to eat kitniyos on Pesach). We suggest asking your Orthodox rabbi if it is or is not kitniyos.”

 

   The OU continues to say the following, “It should be noted that although quinoa is not grown in the same vicinity as the five chometz grains mentioned above, the processing of quinoa is often done at the same facility where they process wheat. Therefore, if you rely on the lenient opinion and treat quinoa as non-kitniyos, we suggest that you sift through the quinoa to make sure that there are no other grains mixed in.”

 

   My research has determined that different manufacturers provide different conditions for the packing of quinoa. This year, the Ancient Harvest plant has been checked and determined that the product is processed in chometz-free environment. Ancient Harvest states on their website, “As a grain, quinoa is gluten free. Our Ancient Harvest Quinoa is grown exclusively in the high Andean Altiplano regions of Bolivia. Our quinoa is grown at 12,000+-foot elevations in very arid conditions which will not support traditional gluten bearing grain production, therefore insuring us no possibility of potential field contamination with such grains. Our Traditional, Inca Red and Black whole grain quinoa is then cleaned, processed and packed in our quinoa-only organic and gluten free facilities. Ancient Harvest quinoa flour is produced in a different plant. Ancient Harvest also produces the Trader Joes brand.

 

   One of the other manufacturers, Arrowhead Mills packs their product on the same lines as they do flour, though on different days, after a clean up. This was confirmed by the OK who certifies this plant. The OK confirmed that Eden Foods quinoa, also under the OK, is usable for Passover, if checked before Passover.

 

   “The Star-K tested quinoa to see if it would rise It did not, it decayed. The result was as Chazal termed, sirchon; the quinoa decayed – it did not rise.”

 

   The Star-K considers quinoa to be kosher for Pesach provided it is purchased from a company that does not process chometz and the quinoa is checked before Passover.


   You should always follow the advice of your own rabbi. If using quinoa, consumers are urged to carefully check grains before Pesach for extraneous matter.

 

   Quinoa should also be rinsed to remove a bitter saponin layer that is found on the outside of the quinoa.

My Answer (Part 3)

Wednesday, February 25th, 2009

       The last few articles have dealt with advice that an experienced caregiver can pass on to someone who is new at it. The articles were prompted by a letter I received from a former caregiver who was trying to help out a friend who recently found herself in a similar caregiving situation.

 

   Some of the issues she raised and which I addressed in the last weeks were:  How best to support her friend, what she can say, the lack of availability of a religious support group, dealing with clinical depression, reluctance to burden children, financial worries and where to get outside supports from agencies, etc.

 

    Today I’d like to address some of her other concerns.  The experienced well spouse was reluctant to make some suggestions to her friend, feeling that though they worked for her they might be inappropriate in the friend’s situation  - or worse, cause further depression. She was also concerned about the abuse, emotional and verbal, that was starting to emerge at the hands of the ill spouse.


 


Making Suggestions


 


        “I am reluctant to send her a book I liked very much (Taking Care of Mom, Taking Care of Me) because although it’s so upbeat, all the relatives were “end-of-life”!    My friend B”H, seems totally at a different point,” was what Mrs. D. wrote in her letter.

 

    It is very difficult to know how someone will react to our suggestions. Everyone brings their own experiences to whatever they engage in. That experience determines whether they will react positively or not about what you are suggesting. There is no way for you to predict their reaction. That is why I feel strongly that we always let adults make their own decisions about everything in their lives and never make decisions for them.

 

    Well spouses are powerless in so many ways because of the illness of their spouses. To make decisions for them about caregiving just takes away what little power they may have left. What you can do is to share your reasons for your recommendations, (whether it is a book, an action plan or even a specific doctor). Tell them why something may have worked for you and share why you are hesitant to recommend it to them. And then step back and let them decide what they will do.


  


Emotional And Verbal Abuse


 


     Unfortunately, it is quite common for well spouses to experience abuse at the hands of the loved ones they are caring for. This should never be allowed or even tolerated and must be nipped in the bud. The first time we experience abuse and just ignore it, we are giving it license to escalate. And it will escalate. Illness does not give anyone the right to be mean or nasty to those around them. Illness is not a license to mistreat another person. If you allow the abuse because “she is sick,” or convince yourself that “he really didn’t mean it,” the abuse will only get worse and become more frequent.

 

      It is OK, under such circumstances, for well spouses to be angry with those they are caring for. It is important that you express that anger at the inappropriate behavior. If you’re visiting your spouse in a facility and she becomes emotionally abusive, that is your cue to leave immediately. Make sure to tell her why you are leaving and that abusive behavior is simply not going to be tolerated.


 


    If you are at home, leave the room or the house if possible. Do whatever you need to (short of being abusive yourself) to make it clear that you will not just stand by and allow yourself to be treated in an abusive manner. 


 


One Last comment


 


     The letter writer said, “Actually what I had tried to tell her was that once you arrive at a certain acceptance of your spouse’s illness, that itself opens possibilities for good things to happen that arepossible.”  How true that comment is and how important hearing it is – for all of us on this journey of chronic illness. Whether you are an ill spouse or her caregiver, acceptance of the situation marks the beginning of getting on with your life and opens the possibility for positive things in the future.

 

    You will not be open to seeking solutions or trying them if you have not accepted “what is.”  Wishing illness away or grieving for the life you lost is a necessary part of the adjustment to a spouse’s illness, but those feelings must eventually be left behind if you want a future. You cannot look at how to make your life better or happier until you have accepted the problems that surround you. Whether it is modifications to your home, to your relationship or to your lifestyle, acceptance is indeed the first step to any positive experiences in the future, whether individually or as a couple.


 


You can reach me at annnovick@hotmail.com

Manna From Heaven… Almost!

Wednesday, April 9th, 2008


In the course of researching this article, I found out two truths about myself. One: I am not a rabbi, and two: thankfully I have no intentions of becoming one.


By now most of us have heard about, seen or tasted quinoa. Pronounced “keen-WAH”, this minute vegetable looks like couscous in size but has the stamp of G-d’s wonder and creation all over it. It cooks like rice, and can take on almost any flavor addition like rice and pasta, but it feels and tastes a lot like a carbohydrate side dish.

 

Here’s where the rabbis come in. Being a leaf and not a grain, and armed with the fervent hope that “pasta-like” quinoa may actually be kosher for Pesach, I was all aquiver. I called a few local and not-so-local rabbis, and they all said the same thing: “Ask your local rabbi.” It turns out that getting an “OK” for quinoa use on Pesach is only slightly less elusive than sharing a single malt with Loch Ness monster.

 

My Local Rabbi said, “it’s a go” with some restrictions on how and when it is checked, but as I said, I’m no rabbi, nor do I take responsibility for anyone’s action before, during or even after Pesach.

 

Quinoa actually has more to do with Pesach than just its “eat or don’t eat” status. Quinoa is one of G-d’s many miracles and relates beautifully to the Pesach story. The quinoa leaf, which has grown in the Andes for the last 4,000 to 5,000 years, can grow in the harshest of climates and poorest of soils. It thrives in the freezing cold nights and boiling days that make the peaks of the Andes a strictly non-tourist zone. Soil only needs minimal moisture and quinoa can grow at the highest elevations. Its nutritional value is also staggering. Quinoa has got it all; I mean it has the full package. Another disclaimer: I’m not a nutritionist, but considering that NASA is looking into quinoa’s ability to sustain astronauts in space over long periods of time, it’s got to be good!

 

Prior to the advent of the Spanish conquistadors, the people of the Upper Andes were hardy and healthy. Within ten years of the conquistadors landing on the west coast of South America, the native population had lost a third of its number and the infant mortality rate had doubled. What happened? Upon arriving in South America, the conquistadors found a culture that not only subsisted on quinoa, but also worshiped it. After harvest, there would be celebrations, followed by sacrifices.

 

The conquistadors recognized that it was a pagan culture when they saw them. Christianity was enforced and quinoa was out. They “religiously” replaced the Andeans’ quinoa, which had been a food staple and a remedy to treat almost everything from a sore toe to bronchitis, with the potato, and the natives began succumbing to disease. But at the very top of the Andes where quinoa grew wild, the grain remained happily feeding a few, until the late 1970s when two Americans studying in South America heard about the miracle, grain-leaf and imported it. It has taken close to 30 years, but today quinoa has become mainstream.

 

Despite thousands of years of displacement, the Jews’ first journey as a people was through the desert, and G-d ensured our survival with manna. How similar was manna to quinoa? I think of quinoa as the Andean form of manna minus the overt miracle: a foodstuff that grows in the harshest conditions, where just a pound of seeds can harvest a whole acre, grow wild if not cultivated, and containing within it, all the nutrition necessary to survive. My only wonder was, when the Andean people complained that there was no meat, was it the llamas that were sent to pacify them?

 

This Pesach, while considering G-d’s miracles large and small, quinoa is one of the smallest, but its impact is tremendous.


 


Quinoa With Caramelized Onions And Pine Nuts


 


1 cup quinoa


2 cups water


3 large onions, thinly sliced


3 tbsp. olive oil


½ cup pine nuts


Salt and pepper to taste


2 tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped


 


Using a fine sieve, rinse quinoa under cold running water until the water runs clear.

 

In a medium saucepan, add rinsed quinoa and water.

 

Bring water to a boil, lower heat and simmer until quinoa is softened and translucent, about 15 minutes.

 

As the quinoa is cooking, prepare the onions: In a large frying pan, heat oil and add onions. Sauté over medium heat until onions start to turn golden.

 

In a separate frying pan toast the pine nuts. Be careful as they can burn easily.

 

Combine cooked quinoa, sautéed onions and toasted pine nuts. Season to taste and add chopped parsley just before serving.

On Davening (Part III)

Wednesday, August 1st, 2007

In the first two Jewish Press columns in this series – published on June 15 and June 22, 2007 – we discussed, “Understanding Tefillos” and “Building Spirituality” in response to the questions posted by two parents asking how to better motivate their children (a 12-year-old girl and 8-year-old boy) to improve their davening. In this column, we will address the following issues:

· A feeling of connection to Hashem and the faith that our tefillos are answered; and

· Age-appropriate settings and expectations for tefillos.

In order to help your daughter regain her footing as far as her tefillah is concerned, you will need to gain a window into her soul. And that is much, much easier said than done. However, the most effective method to realizing this goal is to offer her a non-judgmental ear.

One of the most important lessons parents should keep in mind is that while we are so preoccupied thinking of what we should say to guide our children, the most important thing we can do is listen to them- really listen! That means having the type of relationship where children can discuss what is on their minds, without fear of being subjected to judgmental comments or negative attitudes. This applies to all arenas of children parenting, but all the more so in the arena of tefillah. This is so because tefillah is such a personal matter between an individual and his/her Creator.

Therefore I suggest that you open a dialogue with your daughter. Gently bring up the subject of tefillah with her when you are in a relaxed setting and a tranquil frame of mind. Tell her that you see that davening seems to be a challenge for her, and ask the type of questions that send a clear message that you are open to whatever she will tell you. Something like, “Is there anything you would like to talk about regarding your davening?” Or, “I see that your davening seems a bit strained lately. This seems to be a recent development. Is everything OK?” “Are you OK?”

There could be so many reasons for a child (or adult) to undergo a crisis of bitachon (faith), or develop a feeling that his/her tefillos go unanswered, chas v’shalom. But it is quite likely that your daughter is experiencing a challenge of sorts.

Part and parcel of proper tefillos, let alone inspired and meaningful ones, is to feel close to Hashem and to have bitachon that one’s prayers will be answered. When one or both of these components are lacking, it is quite understandable the result will be bland, uninspired tefillos or a complete disconnect from the tefillah process.

Where will the conversation lead? No one can predict the answer to that question.

Many years ago, when I served as an eighth-grade rebbi, a talmid of mine simply refused to daven. During the entire Shacharis prayer, he would sit silently wearing his tefillin – but not participating at all in the davening. This behavior was in stark contrast to his classroom attitude, where he was engaged and doing well in his limudim.After observing this behavior for a few weeks, I called him aside one day and gently explored with him the reasons for his disinterest in davening. At one point in the conversation, he was silent for a few moments. He then told me that a close relative of his was ill several months prior to our conversation, and that my talmid passionately davened for the full recovery of this individual – who subsequently died. Suddenly, the missing piece of the puzzle fell into place.

Parents ought not be concerned that they will be “stumped” by a difficult question posed by their children. We need not know the answers to these complex hashkafah questions. After all, our greatest talmidei chachamim and nevi’im (sages and prophets) grappled with how humans, with our limited understanding, can gain insight into Hashem’s world.

Your role as a parent is to allow these issues to be aired and discussed, and to guide your daughter to those who can help her find answers to her questions.

Two final notes on this: You may also want to compliment your daughter for her honesty. Others would have taken the path of least resistance and simply pretended to daven. And, Yocheved, you too deserve kudos for not being oblivious to your daughter’s lack of enthusiasm for davening, and for taking the time to explore solutions.

As for the father who wrote that his son “quickly gets bored after about 15 minutes of davening,” and that his wife keeps telling him to “lighten up” with their son and not subject him to such a long davening in shul -my advice is for you to tell your wife that I complimented you – for marrying a wise woman. Please do “lighten up” with him.

Twenty to thirty minutes is usually the amount of time your son spends davening each day in school. You will be well served to have him continue the routine of davening as recited in yeshiva – regardless of what the adults are davening in shul. Speak to your son’s rebbi if you need more details. After all, if your eight-year-old son is restless in a shul setting that is 2-3 hours long and geared to adults, that is a sure sign that he is a normal child. How long would you sit still while listening to people conversing in French all around you (assuming you didn’t speak the language)? I know there are “other kids” who sit nicely next to their fathers. Please look the other way, and don’t compare your son to them.

Here are some practical suggestions:

· Consider having your wife bring him to shul later in the morning.

· Bring along some books for him to read when he is done davening.

· It may be far wiser for you to bring him to Minchah instead of Shacharis. He will have the shul experience in a much shorter setting.

Best wishes for continued nachas.

© 2007 Rabbi Yakov Horowitz, all rights reserved.

Rabbi Yakov Horowitz is the founder and menahel of Yeshiva Darchei Noam of Monsey, and the founder and program director of Agudath Israel’s Project Y.E.S.

To review and download a free pre-publication copy of Rabbi Horowitz’s “Bright Beginnings Chumash Workbook,” please visit his website, www.rabbihorowitz.com, e-mail ek@darcheinoam.org, or call 845-352-7100 x 133.

‘Geh Avek’ (‘Go Away’)

Wednesday, November 1st, 2006

       The question that is on many people’s mind these days is why the organizers of the international “Pride Parade” chose the holy city of Jerusalem as the venue for their exhibition. There are so many other cities on this planet that would be better suited for the festivities that they have planned – and where their activities would be accommodated and even welcomed. Why davka choose a place seeped in a tradition that totally rejects the lifestyle they are celebrating and whose residents in the great majority will be extremely antagonized and anguished by their presence and antics?

 

         I’m not by any means a psychologist, but their behavior triggered a memory of a long ago incident that I observed, and therefore I have my own theory as to why they are doing what they are doing.

 

         Many years ago, when I was 19, I spent a summer in Israel and have many interesting memories of that visit, but one sticks out to this day since it revealed a fascinating aspect of human nature.

 

         It was a sweltering Tisha BeAv and it seemed that every space at the Kotel was taken. There was a sea of humanity on both sides of the mechitza and all were occupied doing the same thing – praying.

 

         However, out of the corner of my eye I saw something that was different from the activity around me, causing me to take a second look. It was a bare-headed man who somehow had found a spot, perhaps on a nearby ledge that made him conspicuous – at least I noticed him. But what had captured my interest was that he was happily munching on a large slice of watermelon and being quite public about it.

 

         I have to admit that I was impressed. He was being quite ingenious. How better to show contempt for your religion and the beliefs of thousands of its adherents, how better to “rub their faces in it” than by eating refreshing, thirst-quenching watermelon on a hot summer’s fast day?

 

         The question that begs to be asked is – why did this obviously secular Jew deliberately eat his snack in full view of observant Jews keeping to themselves and mourning the anniversary of the destruction of the Holy Temple by fasting and praying? Why not just eat at home, as usual? He could do “his thing” privately, just like the religious people were doing theirs.

 

         My hunch is that on a psychological level he couldn’t, because, as the saying goes, “the best defense is a good offense.” Take this to the extreme and the offense becomes offensive. You can see this kind of behavior in children. When a child, for example, is chided for grabbing a toy from his playmate, his reaction is to toddle over and hit him. He’s trying to make the point that what he is doing is so OK, so right to that he will do more of it.

 

         This secular Jew followed this dictum and dealt with his defensiveness by going on the offensive – a self-serving form of denial that enables someone to “save face” and legitimize or whitewash one’s questionable actions or beliefs.

 

         Which leads to the next question that begs to be asked – why was this secular Jew being defensive? In the privacy of his home, there was no one to castigate and criticize him for eating and drinking on Tisha BeAv. With his doors closed and the curtains drawn, there was no one to make him feel that he was doing anything wrong.

 

         Except for himself. Deep inside him, a silent voice was telling him that he was doing something sinful. The pintele Yid – the spark of yiddishkeit that is buried in a Jew’s psyche was making him feel uncomfortable about his actions. His soul was making him feel guilty – albeit on a subconscious level which made him feel defensive, resulting in his offensive – and ultimately obnoxious behavior.

 

         There is no doubt that the spark of decency that resides in each human being is shouting out to the organizers of “The Parade” to put a stop to what many consider abominable behavior – and that is why they are so driven and so adamant to see its actualization on the sacred streets of Jerusalem. It’s not enough to indulge in immoral behavior in the privacy of their homes but they have to, out of pure spite, publicly “eat their watermelon,” fuelled by an internal guilt that they desperately are trying to extinguish.

 

         After all – the best defense is to be offensive.

Follow Your Dreams; The Responses Of Children

Wednesday, July 12th, 2006

I recently wrote an article about older adults who are single, whether widowed or divorced, who have grown children with their own young families. What happens when these singles meet, marry and decide to live a life that is independent of their families and friends? The “older” newlyweds I wrote about were going through problems with their friends and families as they chose to follow their dreams and make aliya. Leaving their families, children and grandchildren behind; to be visited when they could, instead of almost daily, brought resentment and upset from everyone they knew and were related to. I opened this discussion to you, for your input. Below are some of the responses I’ve received.

 

“I am disappointed, not by their (the parents) choice; (after all) they are free people. To Yidden the golden years are when you can shep nachas (derive pleasure) from all your years of putting (the children) first. To me, it seems that this is the greatest pleasure one can have. And, it is what a parent has worked for his/her whole life to accomplish. I think that the mutual need for companionship has hidden their un-mutual desire of shepping nachas. This is something they don’t share in common (since) they each have different families. I don’t agree that the kids can be upset that (their parents) aren’t there to share in milestones. I am sad for the grandparents who are losing the joy of a lifetime – literally!!


B.P. Age 30

 

“I think I would be very upset if either of my parents did this. But I’m not sure I would say anything. But the truth is, it would probably come out in the way I related to them because it would be hard not to.”

D. Z. Age 25

 

“I actually had a very similar experience with my parents. My father had remarried after my mother passed on, and when we were all settled with our own families, my father and his wife decided to sell everything and go to live in Israel. I was a very young woman at the time, so you can imagine how it was then. You didn’t just hop on a plane every Yom Tov to go visit. We knew we wouldn’t see them very much once they moved to Israel, and I was so very sad about them leaving us. I knew I’d miss them terribly. But in those days you never expressed your feelings to your parents or argued with their decisions. Shortly after they moved to Israel, my father took ill and died within months. All I could think of was my regret at not having encouraged them to go sooner so that he could have fulfilled his dreams for more then just a few months. I still, now, wish they had made their decision to move to Israel earlier. I had been so sad about the move and now, if I could have had them for a little longer, healthy and happy in Israel, I would have been so happy. Looking back, I wonder why was I so sad they were moving to Israel. I could still have had them, alive and well in Israel. As long as you still have your parents alive, well and happy anywhere on this earth, it is a gift to cherish.

L.S. Age 58

 

“My parents had a very brilliant way at handling the decisions they made, whether it was about moving, which of the children to visit for Yom Tov or anything in their lives. They simply said to us, ‘We are your parents. Trust that we have thought it out and know what we’re doing.’ By their telling us this, we knew not to question their choices or try to convince them otherwise. They simply made it clear to us with that statement that they were adults and we needed to respect their choices, period.”

K.E. Age 45

 

“Funny you should ask me, because that is exactly the bombshell my parents laid on us this month. Theirs is not a remarriage, but they are making aliya. They are leaving all of us here in the U.S. and pursuing their life’s dream and moving to Israel. OK, our parents did live across the country, but still, they were able to be here for all the important milestones of our children, and we did visit them once a year. Now, they’re talking about coming to the U.S. once a year, but that’s to see all of us kids and our families. I know it just won’t be then same. But you know, all they will ever hear out of my mouth is encouragement. No matter how lost I know I will feel, my parents always encourage me to follow my dreams and I intend to reciprocate. I am encouraging them to go. No! I’m insisting they fulfill their dreams. And, you know, as sad as I am for me, I’m thrilled for them and proud of them too.”

T. K. Age 40

 

I have tried to give a sampling of the responses that reflects most of the diverse feelings people have on this topic. Wherever possible I have included the ages of the people who shared their feelings with me. I leave it for you to ponder if there is a similarity of feelings at different ages and stages of life. Do different life experiences color what you expect of those closest to you? Lastly, is how we see the situation and how we feel, the only correct way, or can we understand and accept when our parents take a different road then the one we expect of them?

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/magazine/follow-your-dreams-the-responses-of-children/2006/07/12/

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