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April 19, 2014 / 19 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Rebbetzin Kanievsky’

How To Throw A Party

Friday, August 17th, 2012

For my upcoming birthday, instead of waiting for my friends or my husband to make me a “surprise” party, I decided to throw one myself. I settled on a cozy and intimate evening, celebrating my birthday with professional cake decorating and fruity cocktails with my nearest and dearest. But as with every gathering I plan, things started to get out of control. At first, I just planned on inviting my sisters, my sister-in-law and a couple of friends. But how could I leave out friends I haven’t seen for a while, neighbors whom I chat with daily, and co-workers whom I spend more time with then my own husband and children? The guest list was trembling at over forty invites and my expense budget was beyond what I normally spend on a three-day yom tov. It was time for some quality-control.

First, I narrowed in on what I really wanted for my birthday, which was to celebrate the day in a meaningful fashion. I had recently finished reading the beautiful biography of Rebbetzin Kanievsky. Hafrashat challah was very important to Rebbetzin Kanievsky and she was particular to do the mitzvah not just every week, but even every day, when she would go down to a nearby bakery and take challah from there. On Thursday, she would host groups of women who would answer amein to her brocha. I was inspired to follow her example, but the few times I made challah, no one would eat it.

Thankfully, a good friend of mine, Soshie, is a culinary graduate of the Arts Institute of New York, and breads have always been her thing. Although she now works as a physician’s assistant, she was willing to give a demonstration on the proper way to make challah and how to flavor the dough with herbs, cinnamon and sugar, onions, roasted tomatoes or garlic, etc. Afterwards, we could all make the brocha together.

The decision to do specialty challot cut out the need to hire a professional cake decorator, and eliminated the need to provide a spread of food and buy chic paper goods. After all, if everyone’s hands are busy kneading dough, they can’t quite sit down and sample different salads and hoers devours. Instead, I served iced decaf coffee and tea, and just a few platters of candies and cookies.

There was this great idea in Real Simple magazine by Michelle Slatalla to reduce an overloaded guest list. You take the list of people and divide them into categories, i.e. neighbors, co-workers, friends, children’s friends, etc. If you want to invite one person from a category, everyone gets invited. To minimize hurt feelings, consider where the categories overlap, like in a Venn diagram. The concept was brilliant, but unfortunately for me, all my categories overlapped. I couldn’t figure out how to cut any group out, so instead I set the party at a time that would be most convenient for me and Soshie, but not necessarily for others. This way, I figured girls would come only if they really wanted too.

One week before the party, I made the cookies and froze them. Three days before, I went shopping. Two days before, I made sure there were sufficient clean chairs and tables in the house and confirmed the RSVPs. The day before, I cleaned the house. That afternoon, knowing my kids will never stay upstairs in their beds while there’s a party going on, I had them bathed and dressed them in their cutest pajamas and then I let them help me prepare the drinks and platters and set the table.

The party was called for seven and my guests began to arrive at 7:30. Being that it was quite a diverse group of women the challah demonstration was a great icebreaker. The demonstration was superbly done and sorely needed. Apparently, I’m not the only woman who wasn’t endowed with the gift of baking underneath the chuppah. Who knew that the need to proof yeast is only for dry yeast that may have expired and by using fresh yeast, you can save yourself ten minutes or so. It was fascinating to watch Soshie swirl the mixture with one hand as she added the wet ingredients followed by the dry. She poured, without measuring, about two thirds of the recommended amount of flour, and then let the dough rest and form together. I used those ten minutes to speak about the spiritual and unifying factors of making dough and then gave the stage back to Soshie. She continued to add flour until the dough was solid, but still slightly wet and sticky. “Know your dough,” Soshie admonished us, and indeed we were becoming quite familiar with it.

My Memories Of The Tzadaiket, Rebbetzin Kanievsky, z”tl

Wednesday, November 16th, 2011

I wasn’t sure if I should write something about the petira of Rebbetzin Kanievsky, z”tl.

My first reaction was who am I to write about such a great person? How could I possibly describe who she was? She was so great that mere words cannot do her justice.

But then I thought about all the people who did not have the zechut to meet her or to be hugged by her or be greeted by her big smile and even bigger heart, and I thought how will they know what we all lost.

So I decided to try to describe in a few words what my meetings with the Rebbetzin were like so that we can all mourn our loss properly.

We are taught that mitat tzadikim mechaperet - the death of the righteous brings an atonement for us, but that is only true if we take the death of the righteous to heart and try to improve our ways and to be influenced by their teachings.

I have the zechut of being in Eretz Yisrael a few times a year. During each visit my husband and I make time to go visit Rav and Rebbetzin Kanievsky to get a bracha and to give tzedakka. It is hard to describe the way the Rav and Rebbetzin live. Theirs is a small apartment in Bnei Brak, next door to the yeshiva. It consists of an entrance room, bedroom, living/dining room, a porch for a sukkah and a very small kitchen. The walls of the dining room are covered from floor to ceiling with sefarim. In this room is also the chair of the Steipler Rav z”tl (Rav Kanievsky’s father). Rebbetzin Kanievsky a”h would urge people to sit in this chair to recite tehillim and make bakashot. It is a very humbling experience.

I remember the first time the Rebbetzin told me to sit in the chair. I was hesitant. How could I sit in his chair? But very gently, with her warm smile, she insisted and I could not refuse.  It is an incredible uplifting experience to sit in the Steipler’s chair and recite tehillim from the big sefer Tehillim open on the shtender. I felt as if my tehillim and bakashot were going straight up to shamayim with the assistance of the Steipler and his daughter-in-law.

The Rebbetzin’s kitchen was very small. Only 2 people could fit in it at one time, and even then they would have to coordinate their moves so as not to bump into each other. I was told that many people offered to buy them a newer, nicer and bigger apartment, but Rav and Rebbetzin Kanievsky saw nothing wrong with their home. For them it was big enough. It was just right. It was what they had, and all they needed. To me that was so hard to understand. That a couple living in such a small home, that was so very crowded, felt that it was all they needed. They were truly separated from anything materialistic.

But what was truly amazing was that in spite of the actual physical size of the apartment, it was huge. Everyone felt welcome and wanted. No one was ever told that there was no room for them. The Rebbetzin’s heart was big enough to care for the entire generation.

Whenever I was there, there were hundreds of other people there as well – all wanting a bracha from the Rav and the Rebbetzin. The problems they had were as varied as the people themselves. Jews from every walk of life – and in every type of attire – came to ask for brachot – for parnassa, health, shidduchim, shalom bayit – there was no area of life for which a bracha was not asked.

Chronicles Of Crises In Our Communities

Saturday, November 12th, 2011

Dear Rachel,

Several thoughts came to mind when I read the letter regarding the behavior of children in shul and adult reactions to it. In my opinion, this is a serious problem and the letter writer was completely correct, yet it was a strong letter that can be construed by some as bordering on sinas chinam.

If everyone showed basic derech eretz, we wouldn’t have this problem. Unfortunately, not only will many parents do nothing, but they will get angry if anyone says anything, because any criticism could damage their darling children psychologically and impede their development.

When my sons were very young, I would take them outside of shul if they made any noise. As they grew older, I taught them that it was completely forbidden to make a sound during leining, Kedusha, and the Mourner’s Kaddish. Later, I taught them that no talking was permitted during davening. When they were old enough and tested me, I would punish them appropriately. Today I have the nachas and zechus to see my frum, yeshivish son put his finger to his lips if someone talks to him during Kaddish.

Years ago I davened in a shul with a prominent rav. If a baby made a sound during his sermon, he would start screaming that the baby should be taken out. On the other hand, when my sons were growing up we went to a shul where the rav’s attitude was that all babies and children should be brought to shul. I won’t comment on the former case, knowing that most people share my opinion. However, if parents won’t show derech eretz, the rav has to deal with it. The following anecdote will show how one rav coped beautifully:

Many years ago in a shul in Brooklyn, just as the rav began his sermon one Yom Kippur, a baby in the front row started whimpering. The rav began: “On Yom Kippur there are three whom we must forgive.” (The baby started crying louder, and the mother was visibly mortified and frozen.)

The rav continued: “We must forgive ourselves…” The crying intensified. “We must forgive our fellow man…” The crying became still louder. I fail to recall the exact context of the sermon which took place over forty years ago, but I do recall the rav finally saying, “I forgot, there’s a fourth we must forgive. We must forgive babies who cry during the sermon.” Everyone laughed, and the mother relaxed and took the baby out.

Finally, things might be easier if adults also behaved appropriately during davening, especially during the three instances mentioned above. However, that’s a different parsha.

 

A Sweet Year to All!      A Tichel-Wearing LA Girl stirs emotions (Chronicles 10-7 and 10-14)

Dear Rachel,

I would like to thank the tichel-wearing LA girl for sharing her story. Though we live in a very yeshivish community, I often find myself shaking my head in disbelief when coming across young wives who flaunt their long and glamorous (fake) custom locks of hair that cascade down the middle of their backs. There is no way they can miss the looks they get and the seductive message they communicate.

LA girl’s letter (and your reply) was enough to motivate me to honestly assess my own modestly priced wigs. I think I’m going to trim the length of one that may come across as too youthful for a mom of five kids.

Thanks for the eye-opener Thank you LA Girl!

I totally second your point of view! It’s deceptive and untznius’dik, especially when married women flirt and flip their sheitels. As a single man, I find what goes on in the streets of Brooklyn today to be absolutely horrible. Kudos for having the courage to write about it!

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/family/chronicles-of-crises/chronicles-of-crises-in-our-communities/2011/11/12/

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