Photo Credit: Jewish Press

Dear Mordechai,

If women drink wine from havdallah, do they grow facial hair? Never mind why.


R. Manowitz


Dear R.,

I don’t know. But, look at it this way: I started drinking my father’s leftover havdallah wine when I was about 3, and I didn’t grow facial hair until at least 12th grade.

On the other hand, now I’m a father and I drink it every week, and I’m gaining hair in weird places. Such as the sink. So I don’t know what drinking it actually does. Does it matter that I’m mostly using grape juice?

So it’s possible this wine thing is an old wives’ tale, told by old wives with serious moustaches.

I did look into it, however, and it turns out that women don’t drink havdallah for complicated halachic reasons. Ask your Local Orthodox Rabbi. (He’s the one with the beard and the yarmulka.)

But it’s not like women don’t have a role in havdallah. They traditionally get to hold the candle. And there are all kinds of minhagim with that too. Some say that if they hold it high, they end up marrying a tall boy. Their shidduch has been written in Shamayim since before they were born, though, so this doesn’t change who they’re actually going to marry. It basically means that their future husband is suddenly having a major growth spurt, and his parents are spending their long Motzaei Shabbosim taking him to buy pants. My sisters always held the candle as high as they could, and there’s a black mark on my parents’ kitchen ceiling that shows up in the background of every vort picture, unless the chosson is tall enough to block it.

I’m not sure why they want a tall boy, though. To get things down for them? Things are only stored that high in the first place because someone in the house is tall. Is it because that way they feel like they’re getting 50% more husband?

So in general, between facial hair and chosson height, havdallah seems to be the time of the week for girls to think about shidduchim, which is interesting, considering most dates are on Motzaei Shabbos or Sunday.



Dear Mordechai,

My daughter is going into high school next year, possibly, and my wife says we have to go to open houses. What?!

R. Gross


Dear Gross,

I don’t know. To be honest, I thought having a girl would be just like having a boy, except that I wouldn’t have to take her to shul. But it turns out their entire school system is different. For example, I thought that, as with boys, there’s limudei kodesh and limudei chol, and the only question I’d have to ask is, “How often are the off-Shabbosim”? But it turns out there are also other classes, like Art. I always thought girls are just naturally better at art, but apparently no, they learn it in school. That’s kind of like cheating. I didn’t have official art classes. I had to draw pictures during class.

Also, girls’ high schools have way more extracurricular programs, like “production” (whatever that is) and “chesed.” They have to log in a specific amount of time doing chesed every week, because that’s how chesed works. But boys don’t have to do chesed, apparently. And between that and night seder, it’s physically impossible to find someone to babysit a houseful of little boys if you’re concerned about yichud issues. You kind of just have to leave them in charge of each other and hope no one burns the house down.

I was recently introduced to the concept of high-school open houses because my daughter’s in junior high, which is apparently one of the levels of Gehinom. Every little thing is an issue that can lead to public humiliation. For example, my daughter likes bananas, but when I suggest that she take a banana to school, she says, “I can’t, because someone is going to say, ‘Eww, you have a banana!’”

(It is scientifically proven that louder girls don’t like bananas.)

So I said, “And then what?” because I was trying to attack this with logic.

And she said, “Then all the other girls are going to agree.”

So everybody in your class has an opinion, and you can’t have your own because they’re going to say something?

My daughter herself is not so bad, though. I kind of raised her not to be so judgmental. You can’t be judgmental when your father is a weirdo. Just embarrassed.

She’s welcome.

So what I’ve found out is that every school does the open house thing a little bit different. But basically, there are speeches about how good the school is, testimonials from some of the better students, and then some more speeches for the parents while the girls all go into the other room to make smoothies. The speeches are kind of all the same, though. I think there should be more of a point/counterpoint, so we can make an informed decision. Let’s get some speeches from a girl who doesn’t like the school. Sure you can argue that girls who don’t like the school aren’t going to write speeches for this thing. But what better motivation do they have to do some work than to warn other people away?

I don’t think boys have open houses. When I was going into high school, I didn’t go to one. I just went to a farher, where someone tested me on the Gemara that I learned the first day of eighth grade when I was still paying attention and not drawing in class.

But my wife assures me that we’re going to have to go to boys’ open houses in a couple of years. So maybe it’s a generational thing. There are more schools these days, so it’s not just the school interviewing you, it’s you interviewing the school. So maybe you should come prepared with some questions so you can raise your hand during the speeches and grill the presenters:

-How’s the limudei chol?

-How often are the off-Shabbosim?

-Who makes havdallah on the in-Shabbosim?

-Who holds the havdallah candle?

-Why don’t the parents get smoothies?

-Do you guys say oh or oy?

-What percentage of the homework is expected to be done by the parents?

-Is there a safe space for my daughter to eat food that the other girls don’t like, or does she have to do it in her locker?

-Is regular chesed enough, or do they also have to log a certain amount of hours doing chesed shel emes?

-If you can accept one historical person into your school, alive or dead, who would it be?

-And would they be alive or dead?

-What is that smell?

-What do you guys do during the summer?

-Are your teachers all aware that the other teachers exist, or do they all like giving tests on the same day?

-Is my daughter going to come home on the weekend and tell me that everything I’m doing is wrong? I sure hope so. For what you’re charging, I would like my whole family to get an education.

-What methods do you use to bribe girls to speak at these orientations?

-Is there a men’s room?

-What exactly is Yahadus? I spent 20 years in good yeshivas and it’s never come up.


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